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Old 05-19-2008, 10:43 PM
 
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I've seen a number of posts on this forum where users have made the assertion that metro area population has more bearing than principal city population on how large a city feels, or how large it is in effective practical terms. Generally I agree with this, but I wonder sometimes whether a city below a certain population threshold would look and feel smaller than a larger city with a similar metro area population. Or whether two cities with similar populations would seem different in size if their metropolitan area populations were significantly different.

Hypothetical examples:

One city has a population of150k, another has 450k, and both have metro area populations of a little over a million, say, 1.1-1.2 million. Does the city of 450k seem larger, or does the similar metro area population make them both look and feel similar?

Two cities have populations of around 500k. One has a metro area population of three million, while the other has approx. 1.5 million people in its metro area. Even with similar city populations, does the city with twice the metro area population feel much, much larger, or do they seem closer in size than this?

I'd be interested in users' thoughts, especially thoughts from people who are familiar with two or more cities with either similar city populations but different metro populations, or vice versa.
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Old 05-19-2008, 10:50 PM
 
Location: Hell's Kitchen, NYC
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I think it has more to do with perception than with "feeling."
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Old 05-19-2008, 10:53 PM
 
Location: Beaumont, Texas
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rI think it has a lot to do with the geography.
Riverside, California metro area 4.5 mil. It's the 14th largest metro area (the Inland Empire) but by no means is it a large city. It's spead out over parts of 3 or 4 BIG counties. San Diego's metro area is smaller- yet San Diego is a city. Most of those posts are well deserved civic pride (even Scanton) and people want to point out that their area is just as good as...California, for example.
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Old 05-19-2008, 11:15 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has a little over 300,000 people in the city and a metro of about 2.1 million. It is thought that it may go below 300,000 in the next census. Yet it 'feels' bigger than Omaha, NE with 400,000 and a metro of 800,000. It's hard to explain, really. Part of the feeling may be that Pittsburgh was once a city of 650,000 with a metro of ~2.5 million, whereas Omaha has grown a lot by annexing other cities in Doulglas Co. Nebraska which used to be its suburbs. Its most recent conquest was a town called Elkhorn. Then I think, well, Pittsburgh did that too, just at a different place in time. I do think both numbers are relevant. I know some people disagree.
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Old 05-19-2008, 11:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theSUBlime View Post
I think it has more to do with perception than with "feeling."
Feels, seems, what a person perceives. Call it what you will. "Feel" was just the term I happened to use to acknowledge that the sense a person has of a city's size is subjective. Still, anyone familiar with more than one city similar in city population but different in metro population, or vice versa, will have a good perspective on which city, if either, generally looks, feels, seems, etc., like a larger city.
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Old 05-20-2008, 02:46 AM
 
Location: Hell's Kitchen, NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ogre View Post
Feels, seems, what a person perceives. Call it what you will. "Feel" was just the term I happened to use to acknowledge that the sense a person has of a city's size is subjective. Still, anyone familiar with more than one city similar in city population but different in metro population, or vice versa, will have a good perspective on which city, if either, generally looks, feels, seems, etc., like a larger city.
Wasn't criticizing your wording, just giving you another view. I dunno, (as always) sometimes a city that has a big metro (or city proper for that matter) is smaller than you think or a smaller metro is bigger than you think. Some cities simply have more media presence...is what I'm getting at. For example, Boston has a lot of historical presence, and is very dense but it is much smaller (with respect to population and area) than I thought it would be.
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Old 05-20-2008, 10:03 AM
 
Location: Denver, CO
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I want to reference a post I made a few months ago on the Albuquerque forum. Usually cities with a larger metropolitan area do "feel bigger" than cities with smaller metropolitan areas, but that's not always the case. For example, even though Phoenix has 4 million people and Albuquerque has about 850k, after spending time in both, I don't believe that Phoenix offers anything substantially special (other than major league sports teams) that you can't get in ABQ, despite being almost five times bigger. Phoenix might be five times bigger, but there is no one part of Phoenix that is any denser than an equivalent part of ABQ. And in fact, I think ABQ and surrounding towns in New Mexico within an hour's radius (including Santa Fe) offer more culture than Phoenix! Here's what I said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by vegaspilgrim View Post
I agree with everything you're saying, EnjoyEP and yukon. Let me clarify a little my concern. It's not the actual population of the city I'm concerned about, it's the size of the economy. There are small and medium sized cities with great economies and big cities with weak or declining economies, and everything in between. I figure if a city has half a million people or more, that's more than enough people to support malls, all the latest chains, some parks, libraries, museums, etc,... all the works. Actually, if a city can support all those things with under a million people, then all the better! For example, according to bestbuy.com, there are 2 Best Buy locations in Albuquerque. There are 18 Best Buy stores in the greater Phoenix area. One's enough, two's plenty; would Albuquerque be 9 times better of a city if it had 9 times the number of Best Buy stores? I doubt it. Especially when it comes to cities in the west, with 1x1 mile grids, the whole city is pretty much uniform density. All adding population does is add more of the same stuff; it doesn't make the city qualitatively any different. Phoenix might be over 5 times larger than Albuquerque, but it is no denser. Neither one resembles New York City. The question is does the city have a diverse economy with plenty of jobs that pay enough to make a decent living, giving the local cost of living? That's the question, and that's what I'm currently in the process of researching.
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Old 05-20-2008, 10:14 AM
 
11,289 posts, read 26,184,687 times
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A lot of it has to do with how cities grew historically. St. Louis, Boston, San Fran. They're all cities with relatively small city limits, but they have quite large metro areas. Some of the biggest cities are "newer" urban areas, where the central city annexed the hell out of everything, and gobbled up land before the little streetcar suburbs could really spring up and take hold.

I tend to look at Metro populations, just because some of the city populations are so skewed, it really just doesn't make sense to use them.

Like the fact that Indianapolis is larger than San Fran, but if you go to these places, you easily see that Indianapolis has city limits of hundreds of square miles, it's 1/3 larger than even Chicago, while San Fran has 49 square miles.

Atlanta and Omaha are almost the same size population wise....but which one is the bigger "city".

I use "city" to mean an urban area, not just the random civic boundries.
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Old 05-20-2008, 10:20 AM
 
11,289 posts, read 26,184,687 times
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Here's a list of Urban Areas, Land Areas, and Density.

These are areas that have a contant spread of at least 1,000 people per square mile. If that chain is broken, the urban area is broken. That's why some cities look small, because they're split apart by mostly undeveloped land. There are multiple urban areas within a metro area.

1 New York-Newark, NY-NJ-CT UA 17,799,861 8683.2 5309.3
2 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA UA 11,789,487 4319.9 7068.3
3 Chicago, IL-IN UA 8,307,904 5498.1 3913.6
4 Philadelphia, PA-NJ-DE-MD UA 5,149,079 4660.7 2861.4
5 Miami, FL UA 4,919,036 2890.7 4407.4
6 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX UA 4,145,659 3644.2 2946.4
7 Boston, MA-NH-RI UA 4,032,484 4496.7 2322.6
8 Washington, DC-VA-MD UA 3,933,920 2996 3400.8
9 Detroit, MI UA 3,903,377 3267.1 3094.4
10 Houston, TX UA 3,822,509 3354.7 2951.1
11 Atlanta, GA UA 3,499,840 5083.1 1783.3
12 San Francisco-Oakland, CA UA 3,228,605 1364 6130.4
13 Phoenix-Mesa, AZ UA 2,907,049 2069.4 3638.3
14 Seattle, WA UA 2,712,205 2469.9 2844.1
15 San Diego, CA UA 2,674,436 2026.1 3418.7
16 Minneapolis-Saint Paul, MN UA 2,388,593 2316 2671.2
17 Saint Louis, MO-IL UA 2,077,662 2147 2506.4
18 Baltimore, MD UA 2,076,354 1768.3 3041.3
19 Tampa-Saint Petersburg, FL UA 2,062,339 2077.9 2570.6
20 Denver-Aurora, CO UA 1,984,889 1292 3979.1
21 Cleveland, OH UA 1,786,647 1675.7 2761.4
22 Pittsburgh, PA UA 1,753,136 2207.7 2056.7
23 Portland, OR-WA UA 1,583,138 1227.5 3340.3
24 San Jose, CA UA 1,538,312 673.7 5914.1
25 Riverside-San Bernardino, CA UA 1,506,816 1136.4 3434.1
26 Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN UA 1,503,262 1739.9 2237.8
27 Virginia Beach, VA UA 1,394,439 1364.4 2647
28 Sacramento, CA UA 1,393,498 955.8 3776.1
29 Kansas City, MO-KS UA 1,361,744 1513.6 2330.1
30 San Antonio, TX UA 1,327,554 1055.6 3257.3
31 Las Vegas, NV UA 1,314,357 740.5 4597.1
32 Milwaukee, WI UA 1,308,913 1261.4 2687.5
33 Indianapolis- Carmel, IN UA 1,218,919 1432.1 2204.5
34 Providence, RI-MA UA 1,174,548 1304.4 2332.2
35 Orlando, FL UA 1,157,431 1173.8 2554
36 Columbus, OH UA 1,133,193 1030.1 2849.3
37 New Orleans, LA UA 1,009,283 512.4 5101.6
38 Buffalo, NY UA 976,703 949.7 2663.5
39 Memphis, TN-MS-AR UA 972,091 1035.5 2431.3
40 Austin, TX UA 901,920 823.9 2835.1
41 Bridgeport-Stamford, CT-NY UA 888,890 1205.1 1910.3
42 Salt Lake City, UT UA 887,650 597.6 3847.3
43 Jacksonville, FL UA 882,295 1063.2 2149.2
44 Louisville, KY-IN UA 863,582 1013.5 2207
45 Hartford, CT UA 851,535 1215.6 1814.3
46 Richmond, VA UA 818,836 1131.2 1874.8
47 Charlotte, NC-SC UA 758,927 1126.4 1745
48 Nashville-Davidson County, TN UA 749,935 1115.7 1740.9
49 Oklahoma City, OK UA 747,003 834.9 2317.4
50 Tucson, AZ UA 720,425 754.6 2472.7
51 Honolulu, HI UA 718,182 399.2 4659.8
52 Dayton, OH UA 703,444 838 2174.1
53 Rochester, NY UA 694,396 764.4 2352.7
54 El Paso, TX-NM UA 674,801 567.5 3079.6
55 Birmingham, AL UA 663,615 1015.5 1692.5
56 Omaha, NE-IA UA 626,623 586.3 2768.3
57 Madison, WI UA 601,283 582.1 2892.7
58 Albuquerque, NM UA 598,191 580 2671.1
59 Allentown-Bethlehem, PA-NJ UA 576,408 749.8 1991.1
60 Springfield, MA-CT UA 573,610 800.3 1856.5
61 Akron, OH UA 570,215 797.2 1852.5
62 Sarasota-Bradenton, FL UA 559,229 700.4 2067.8
63 Albany, NY UA 558,947 736.2 1966.4
64 Tulsa, OK UA 558,329 677 2135.9
65 Fresno, CA UA 554,923 359 4003.1
66 Concord, CA UA 552,624 457 3131.8
67 Raleigh, NC UA 541,527 827.8 1694.3
68 Grand Rapids, MI UA 539,080 666.5 2094.7
69 Mission Viejo, CA UA 533,015 354.5 3893.9
70 New Haven, CT UA 531,314 738.9 1862.2
71 McAllen, TX UA 523,144 812.8 1667
72 Toledo, OH-MI UA 503,008 524 2486.1
73 Baton Rouge, LA UA 479,019 726.9 1706.8
74 Colorado Springs, CO UA 466,122 511.2 2361.7
75 Worcester, MA-CT UA 429,882 648.3 1717.3
76 Charleston-North Charleston, SC UA 423,410 598.1 1833.4
77 Wichita, KS UA 422,301 464.9 2352.5
78 Columbia, SC UA 420,537 696.5 1563.7
79 Knoxville, TN UA 419,830 879.3 1236.7
80 Ogden-Layton, UT UA 417,933 466.3 2321.1
81 Youngstown, OH-PA UA 417,437 591.2 1828.7
82 Syracuse, NY UA 402,267 465.3 2239.1
83 Bakersfield, CA UA 396,125 285.7 3590.5
84 Palm Bay-Melbourne, FL UA 393,289 569.1 1789.8
85 Scranton, PA UA 385,237 411 2427.4
86 Des Moines, IA UA 370,505 363.4 2640.4
87 Flint, MI UA 365,096 598.6 1579.7
88 Harrisburg, PA UA 362,782 539.7 1740.9
89 Little Rock, AR UA 360,331 532.4 1752.8
90 Poughkeepsie-Newburgh, NY UA 351,982 686.3 1328.3
91 Chattanooga, TN-GA UA 343,509 751.1 1184.5
92 Oxnard, CA UA 337,591 196.1 4459.7
93 Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC UA 335,630 600.3 1448
94 Spokane, WA-ID UA 334,858 370.5 2340.8
95 Cape Coral, FL UA 329,757 496.8 1719.1
96 Pensacola, FL-AL UA 323,783 568.1 1476
97 Lancaster, PA UA 323,554 516.5 1622.4
98 Mobile, AL UA 317,605 545.9 1506.9
99 Stockton, CA UA 313,392 192.4 4218.4
100 Modesto, CA UA 310,945 222.9 3612.4
101 Reno, NV UA 303,689 307.2 2560.5
102 Provo-Orem, UT UA 303,680 220.2 3572.7
103 Greenville, SC UA 302,194 586.7 1334
104 Lansing, MI UA 300,032 354.5 2192.1
105 Denton-Lewisville, TX UA 299,823 314.9 2466.2
106 Winston-Salem, NC UA 299,290 651.1 1190.6
107 Corpus Christi, TX UA 293,925 285.7 2665
108 Jackson, MS UA 292,637 416.6 1819.4
109 Durham, NC UA 287,796 406.1 1835.7
110 Fort Wayne, IN UA 287,759 350.3 2127.6
111 Santa Rosa, CA UA 285,408 264.1 2798.5
112 Ann Arbor, MI UA 283,904 333.5 2205
113 South Bend, IN-MI UA 276,498 403.5 1774.7
114 Fayetteville, NC UA 276,368 432.9 1653.6
115 Shreveport, LA UA 275,213 400.6 1779.4
116 Boise, ID UA 272,625 281.5 2508.5
117 Port Saint Lucie, FL UA 270,774 437.8 1602
118 Davenport, IA-IL UA 270,626 320.8 2184.8
119 Rockford, IL UA 270,414 360.2 1944.3
120 Trenton, NJ UA 268,472 238.6 2914.4
121 Greensboro, NC UA 267,884 350.9 1977.5
122 Canton, OH UA 266,595 371.7 1857.7
123 Lancaster-Palmdale, CA UA 263,532 234.1 2915.3
124 Daytona Beach-Port Orange, FL UA 255,353 294.1 2248.6
125 Indio-Cathedral City-Palm Springs, CA UA 254,856 255.3 2585
126 Lexington-Fayette County, KY UA 250,994 180.1 3608.9
127 Peoria, IL UA 247,172 318.9 2007.2
128 Barnstable, MA UA 243,667 741.1 851.5
129 Columbus, GA-AL UA 242,324 352.6 1779.8
130 Reading, PA UA 240,264 260.7 2387.2
131 Temecula-Murrieta, CA UA 229,810 247.6 2404
132 Atlantic City, NJ UA 227,180 313 1879.7
133 Round Lake Beach-McHenry-Grayslake, IL-WI UA 226,848 344.9 1703.7
134 Lincoln, NE UA 226,582 202.3 2900.6
135 Anchorage, AK UA 225,744 204.2 2863
136 Eugene, OR UA 224,049 177.4 3270.8
137 Asheville, NC UA 221,570 535.5 1071.6
138 Bonita Springs-Naples, FL UA 221,251 389.1 1472.9
139 Antioch, CA UA 217,591 156.1 3609.8
140 Springfield, MO UA 215,004 294 1894.2
141 Huntsville, AL UA 213,253 407.2 1356.5
142 Evansville, IN-KY UA 211,989 273.8 2005.2
143 Thousand Oaks, CA UA 210,990 223.2 2448.6
144 Savannah, GA UA 208,886 265.2 2040.1
145 Salem, OR UA 207,229 179.3 2993.9
146 Fort Collins, CO UA 206,757 216.7 2471.6
147 Gulfport-Biloxi, MS UA 205,754 349.4 1525.1
148 Tallahassee, FL UA 204,260 294.9 1793.7
149 Lubbock, TX UA 202,225 193 2713.7
150 Victorville-Hesperia-Apple Valley, CA UA 200,436 321.1 1616.8
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Old 05-20-2008, 10:29 AM
 
6,613 posts, read 16,575,213 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiana View Post
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has a little over 300,000 people in the city and a metro of about 2.1 million. It is thought that it may go below 300,000 in the next census. Yet it 'feels' bigger than Omaha, NE with 400,000 and a metro of 800,000. It's hard to explain, really. Part of the feeling may be that Pittsburgh was once a city of 650,000 with a metro of ~2.5 million, whereas Omaha has grown a lot by annexing other cities in Doulglas Co. Nebraska which used to be its suburbs. Its most recent conquest was a town called Elkhorn. Then I think, well, Pittsburgh did that too, just at a different place in time. I do think both numbers are relevant. I know some people disagree.
I agree that both numbers are relevant.

Pittsburgh's an interesting case. It was one of the US's 10 largest cities as recently as 50 years ago, but today it's way down the list. Meanwhile, it's metro population is small potatoes also, unlike most other cities on the top 10 lists in the 20th century. Many of these cities also lost population (Boston, Detroit, Baltimore) but their metros have kep pace to keep them on the top 10 metro areas list.

RE: "feel" (or perception if you prefer), Pittsburgh, with barely 300k population in the city and 2M in the metro, feels bigger to me than Mesa, AZ (400k population), and the metro of which it is a part (Phoenix), especially when you are in the downtowns of these places. Guess it's Pittsburgh's density that screams big city to me louder than does Mesa's/Phoenix's.
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