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Old 10-31-2013, 08:03 AM
Location: Washington, DC area
10,842 posts, read 19,413,421 times
Reputation: 5697


Using urbanized populations (while still not perfect, I find this better than MSA or CSA rankings) how would you break this list of 400k plus metros down? I tend to call a lot of metro areas "big cities" when some people think only the top ten are big metros while others think that a metro of 200k is "big". So I was just curious to see what others thought.. Personally, I think I would draw the line with New Orleans being the last city I would consider a Big City even though some of those cities are considerably smaller than the ones near the top. They are still big cities in my mind.

New York, NY - 18,351,295
Los Angeles, CA - 12,150,996
Chicago, IL - 8,608,208
Miami, FL - 5,502,379
Philadelphia, PA - 5,441,567
Dallas--Fort Worth, TX - 5,121,892
Houston, TX - 4,944,332
Washington, DC - 4,586,770
Atlanta, GA - 4,515,419
Boston, MA - 4,181,019
Detroit, MI - 3,734,090
Phoenix, AZ - 3,629,114
San Francisco--Oakland, CA - 3,281,212
Seattle, WA - 3,059,393
San Diego, CA - 2,956,746
Minneapolis--St. Paul, MN - 2,650,890
Tampa--St. Petersburg, FL - 2,441,770
Denver, CO - 2,374,203
Baltimore, MD - 2,203,663
St. Louis, MO - 2,150,706
Riverside San Bernardino, CA - 1,932,666
Las Vegas, NV - 1,886,011
Portland, OR - 1,849,898
Cleveland, OH - 1,780,673
San Antonio, TX - 1,758,210
Pittsburgh, PA - 1,733,853
Sacramento, CA - 1,723,634
San Jose, CA - 1,664,496
Cincinnati, OH - 1,624,827
Kansas City, MO - 1,519,417
Orlando, FL - 1,510,516
Indianapolis, IN - 1,487,483
Virginia Beach, VA - 1,439,666
Milwaukee, WI - 1,376,476
Columbus, OH - 1,368,035
Austin, TX - 1,362,416
Charlotte, NC - 1,249,442
Providence, RI - 1,190,956
Jacksonville, FL - 1,065,219
Memphis, TN - 1,060,061
Salt Lake City, UT - 1,021,243
Louisville, KY - 972,546
Nashville, TN - 969,587
Richmond, VA - 953,556
Buffalo, NY - 935,906
Hartford, CT - 924,859
Bridgeport--Stamford, CT - 923,311
New Orleans, LA - 899,703
Raleigh, NC - 884,891
Oklahoma City, OK - 861,505
Tucson, AZ - 843,168
El Paso, TX - 803,086
Urban Honolulu, HI - 802,459
Birmingham, AL - 749,495
Albuquerque, NM - 741,318
McAllen, TX - 728,825
Omaha, NE - 725,008
Dayton, OH - 724,091
Rochester, NY - 720,572
Allentown, PA - 664,651
Tulsa, OK - 655,479
Fresno, CA - 654,628
Sarasota--Bradenton, FL - 643,260
Springfield, MA - 621,300
Concord, CA - 615,968
Albany--Schenectady, NY - 594,962
Baton Rouge, LA - 594,309
Mission Viejo--Lake Forest--San Clemente, CA - 583,681
Grand Rapids, MI - 569,935
Akron, OH - 569,499
New Haven, CT- 562,839
Colorado Springs, CO - 559,409
Knoxville, TN - 558,696
Columbia, SC - 549,777
Charleston, SC - 548,404
Ogden--Layton, UT - 546,026
Cape Coral, FL - 530,290
Bakersfield, CA - 523,994
Toledo, OH - 507,643
Worcester, MA - 486,514
Provo--Orem, UT - 482,819
Wichita, KS - 472,870
Palm Bay--Melbourne, FL - 452,791
Des Moines, IA - 450,070
Harrisburg, PA - 444,474
Murrieta--Temecula--Menifee, CA - 441,546
Little Rock, AR - 431,388
Poughkeepsie--Newburgh, NY - 423,566
Syracuse, NY - 412,317
Lancaster, PA - 402,004
Madison, WI - 401,661
Greenville, SC - 400,492
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Old 10-31-2013, 08:21 AM
321 posts, read 360,827 times
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I would include Raleigh and Oklahoma City. I feel if you have a major sport, NBA, MLS, NHL, NFl or MLB you have reached big city status. You have to be big enough to even have a franchise. I see a few on the list that are exceptions and I would consider those big cities as well. Oklahoma City is where I would cut it off.
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Old 10-31-2013, 07:55 PM
56 posts, read 61,336 times
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I'd actually put the Big Cities marker between Orlando and Indianapolis. I'm mostly going by international recognition, which is why it's so high. Not many people outside of the USA know where Indianapolis is (they think it's in India) or even Richmond. People vaguely recognize New Orleans, but they don't really know WHERE it is. The cities above Orlando are universally (almost) recognized.

I'm glad you used Urbanized areas rather than "city limits" or MSAs/CSAs. DC is usually ranked twenty-something when comparing city limits because it's such a small demarcation . But when you look at the surrounding urban areas like Bethesda, Arlington, Silver Spring, Alexandria and everything else, which are part of the DC sphere of influence, we are actually more populous than many cities. Thanks for using urban areas!
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Old 10-31-2013, 08:34 PM
981 posts, read 2,351,856 times
Reputation: 1472
Some of your numbers are off Phoenix's metro is roughly 4.3 million and Atlanta's metro is well over 5 million and St. Louis's metro is nearly 3 million. I like the above response. When your city has professional sports franchises then you know you've reached "Big City" status.
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Old 10-31-2013, 08:49 PM
Location: Metro Atlanta & Savannah, GA - Corpus Christi, TX
4,471 posts, read 7,286,802 times
Reputation: 2217
Green Bay has a pro football team. Would you consider it a big city?
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Old 10-31-2013, 09:22 PM
Location: Jersey City
6,488 posts, read 16,148,250 times
Reputation: 5632
Interesting question. I'd draw the line somewhere between Cincinnati and Orlando. Cincinnati feels "big city" to me, while Orlando does not. Kansas City falls between these two on the list. Not sure which side it falls on because I've never been there.

So from Orlando down to about Rochester would be mid-sized metros. Allentown, and most cities below it, feels like a small city.
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Old 10-31-2013, 09:39 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 15 days ago)
Location: Foot of the Rockies
86,987 posts, read 102,540,351 times
Reputation: 33045
It's hard to actually draw a "line". Omaha feels "big city" to me. It has five Fortune 500 companies, and is HQ for several more large cos. It has a nice downtown area. Virginia Beach,about twice the size, not so much of a big city feel, IMO.

Omaha's 'fab five' of Fortune 500 firms stand tall - Omaha.com
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Old 10-31-2013, 10:23 PM
Location: roaming gnome
12,391 posts, read 24,555,922 times
Reputation: 5662
Most of them are big, I only care about walkable and vibrant.
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Old 11-01-2013, 12:30 AM
981 posts, read 2,351,856 times
Reputation: 1472
Originally Posted by WanderingImport View Post
Green Bay has a pro football team. Would you consider it a big city?
Ok guess I didn't think my response through. Where I live in Phoenix our suburbs are larger than Green Bay.
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Old 11-01-2013, 12:35 AM
Location: Where Else...?
740 posts, read 1,019,730 times
Reputation: 657
I would go by what the census dictates and that is how many people within the city limits, not just the entire metro area...so if there's at least a million to 2 mil within the city limits, I think that would qualify as a big city.....
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