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First American Cities in History to Reach 100,000 People

Can you name the cities in North and South America which reached a population of 100,000 before 1900 AD?
According to 4000 Years of Urban Growth by Tertius Chandler and rough estimates calculated from historical US censuses.
Some of these cities no longer exist
Both historical and modern-day names accepted
Quiz by Dekkie
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Last updated: October 20, 2023
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First submittedOctober 12, 2023
Times taken10,785
Average score58.2%
Rating4.58
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Year
Country
City
450
Mexico
Teotihuacán
1500
Mexico
Tenochtitlan
1569
Bolivia
Potosí
1810
U.S.
New York City
1825
Cuba
Havana
1828
Brazil
Rio de Janeiro
1839
U.S.
Baltimore
1840
U.S.
New Orleans
1842
U.S.
Boston
1842
Brazil
Recife
1843
U.S.
Philadelphia
1847
U.S.
Cincinnati
1850
Brazil
Salvador
1851
U.S.
Brooklyn
1853
U.S.
St. Louis
1858
U.S.
Chicago
1858
Argentina
Buenos Aires
1859
Chile
Santiago
1860
Peru
Lima
Year
Country
City
1864
U.S.
San Francisco
1866
Canada
Montreal
1867
U.S.
Buffalo
1869
U.S.
Newark
1869
U.S.
Washington D.C.
1870
Uruguay
Montevideo
1870
U.S.
Louisville
1872
U.S.
Cleveland
1872
U.S.
Pittsburgh
1875
U.S.
Jersey City
1876
Chile
Valparaíso
1877
U.S.
Detroit
1877
U.S.
Providence
1878
U.S.
Milwaukee
1882
U.S.
Minneapolis
1883
U.S.
Kansas City
1883
U.S.
Rochester
1884
Canada
Toronto
Year
Country
City
1886
U.S.
Saint Paul
1887
U.S.
Omaha
1888
Colombia
Bogotá
1889
U.S.
Allegheny
1889
U.S.
Indianapolis
1890
U.S.
Denver
1893
Brazil
São Paulo
1894
U.S.
Columbus
1894
U.S.
Worcester
1896
U.S.
Syracuse
1897
Argentina
Rosario
1897
U.S.
New Haven
1899
U.S.
Fall River
1899
U.S.
Paterson
1899
U.S.
Scranton
1900
Mexico
Guadalajara
1900
U.S.
Los Angeles
1900
U.S.
Memphis
23 Comments
+10
Level 55
Oct 12, 2023
It should probably be noted that I did not use all of Chandler's estimates here, specifically Tenochtitlan / Mexico City. His book likely used older data that caused an underestimation of 80,000, while the general concensus now is that the city likely had about 200,000 inhabitants.

Futhermore, some of the dates of the US cities Chandler provided were estimated from including absorbed cities (e.g. Philadelphia, Boston and Pittsburgh) or just plain erroneous (e.g. Washington D.C., Louisville).

+3
Level 61
Oct 12, 2023
nice quiz but please bring back the languages quizzes they're my favorite!
+10
Level 55
Oct 12, 2023
Thanks! At one point I will. Those quizzes require a lot of time and research. What I can tell however is that the next language quiz will be on the Eastern Roman Empire under Justinian the Great.
+7
Level 71
Oct 12, 2023
I'm assuming the St. Joseph on here is the one in Missouri. From what I can tell, the official population according to the 1900 census was 102,979, though it was only 52,324 in 1890 and was back to 77,403 by 1910. This weird "peak" in population was due to double counting by city officials, who wanted to make St Joseph look like it had grown more rapidly than it had, and as such, St Joseph probably should not be on here, since it has never actually had 100K people (the actual peak was probably about 80K in 1930).
+5
Level 55
Oct 12, 2023
Interesting, had no idea that this was the case. I'll take it out then.
+3
Level 73
Oct 19, 2023
Almost guessed Brasilia...
+4
Level 60
Nov 21, 2023
I tried Honolulu.
+4
Level 74
Oct 19, 2023
You should have "KC" as a type-in for Kansas City
+3
Level 55
Oct 20, 2023
Done.
+6
Level 77
Oct 19, 2023
I love seeing a quiz title and knowing it’s a Dekkie quiz before even opening it. Great quiz!
+4
Level 55
Oct 20, 2023
Thanks!
+1
Level 74
Nov 2, 2023
I never knew about Allegheny. Cool!
+2
Level 55
Nov 2, 2023
Merged with Pittsburgh in 1907. It was a separate urban center before it merged, kinda like how Brooklyn was also separate at first.
+4
Level 76
Nov 4, 2023
What a remarkable number one. It's abandoned these days, apart from some massive pyramids that I climbed once upon a time!
+3
Level 55
Nov 5, 2023
A lot of pre-Columbian cities in America just were never that populous, though its been said that sites like Yax Mutal (Tikal), Oxhuitza (Caracol) and Kan (El Mirador) might've reached the same height as Teotihuacan and Tenochtitlan.
+5
Level 72
Nov 5, 2023
Not going to lie, never thought there would be a quiz with both Fall River and Teotihuacan as answers. Very cool!
+5
Level 90
Nov 21, 2023
Very interesting that there was no city in Texas with 100k. In fact the largest city was San Antonio with 53k. Boy have times changed.
+3
Level 55
Nov 21, 2023
Also still when Galveston could be considered a major town in Texas, though the hurricane hit the city mere months after the 1900 census was taken.
+3
Level 71
Nov 21, 2023
Wow, I'm impressed by how Sao Paulo has gone in just about 130 years from having 100,000 to 22 million people! They come at the tail end of this list, and yet they are now almost tied with New York (which had a huge head start) for being the most populous city on it!
+2
Level 55
Nov 21, 2023
Since I'm personally not very well-versed on American history at all, it was very interesting to see some of the cities on here not being among the biggest today.
+1
Level 84
Nov 22, 2023
Teotihuacan....let's be a little more lenient on spelling?
+1
Level 44
Nov 23, 2023
Is it fair to have Brooklyn separate from NYC? Although it historically had been its own city, shouldn't we automatically get two for typing in NYC?
+2
Level 55
Nov 23, 2023
I mean, the caveat does very clearly state that some of these cities no longer exist.