Like Joshua and Jaya in my novel Nearly Canaan, I was surprised by the relative importance of smaller urban areas in the Pacific Northwest. Look how quickly the population figures drop.
Looking at the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, here are the ten largest cities by metropolitan area population. These figures have mushroomed since I lived in the region four decades ago and even desert communities have been deemed desirable destinations for retirees. As for geographic perspective, remember that the Seattle standard statistical metropolitan area includes the wilderness of Mount Rainier National Park. Anyplace else have an active volcano?
- Seattle, 3.9 million. Ranked 20th in the U.S. Feels more like Boston, Chicago, or Atlanta in its impact.
- Portland, 2.4 million. Ranked 30th in the U.S.
- Boise, Idaho, 730,426
- Spokane, Washington, 559,891
- Salem, Oregon, 432,102
- Eugene-Springfield, Oregon, 379,611
- Olympia, Washington, 286,419
- Tri-Cities, Washington, 296,224
- Bremerton, Washington, 269,805
- Yakima, Washington, 251,446. The major metropolis for the middle third of a large state.
Note that six of the ten are west of the Cascade range. None are in the eastern half of Oregon.
Just to the north, Vancouver, British Columbia, has 2.4 million population, making it Canada’s third largest metropolis.
What would your community match on the list?