New York is no longer the most populous state, having lost that position to California in the 1970 census. However, New York City remains the most populous US city, as it has been since at least 1790. New York state ranked 3rd in population in the US with an estimated total of 19,157,532 in 2002, an increase of 1% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, New York's population grew from 17,990,455 to 18,976,457, an increase of 5.5%. The population is projected to reach 19.8 million by 2025. New York's population density in 2000 was 401.9 persons per sq mi, the 6th-highest in the nation. In 2000, the median age for New Yorkers was 35.9, with nearly 24.7% of the populace under age 18 and 12.9% over 65.
First in the state as well as the nation in population was New York City, with 8,084,316 residents in 2002 (up from 7,323,000 in 1990). Other leading cities, with their estimated 2002 populations were Buffalo, 287,698; Rochester, 217,158; Yonkers, 197,234; and Syracuse, 145,164. All these cities have lost population since the 1970s.
With 20,196,649 people, the tri-state New York City metropolitan area remained the nation's largest in 1999; other major metropolitan areas included those of Buffalo, with an estimated 1,175,000 people, and Rochester, with 1,079,073. Albany, the state capital, had an estimated metropolitan population of 869,474 in 1999.
The growth of New York City has been remarkable. In 1790, when the first national census was taken, the city had 49,401 residents. By 1850, its population had boomed to 696,115; by 1900, to 3,437,202, double that of Chicago, the city's closest rival. Manhattan alone housed more people in 1900 than any city outside New York. In 1990, if Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and the Bronx had each been a separate city, they would still have ranked 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 7th in the nation, respectively.