America’s largest cities in 1820

Shifts in the nation’s economy are reflected in the 1820 Census, where Missouri and Maine are about to be admitted as states. The major population centers, however, are still seaports.

  1. New York (123,706), making it the first American city to surpass 100,000 population.
  2. Philadelphia (63,802). If the two suburbs, below, were included, it would approach that 100k threshold.
  3. Baltimore (62,738). The port has leapt to third place and is nearly as big as Philadelphia City. While
  4. Boston (43,298) has fallen way behind.
  5. New Orleans (27,176). The biggest city west of the Appalachian Mountains, it’s still smaller than today’s Dover, New Hampshire. In other words, most of these cities weren’t really big.
  6. Charleston, South Carolina (24,780). It’s the center of urban life in the South. But from everything I’ve heard, it was largely of a small-town flavor.
  7. Northern Liberties, Pennsylvania (19,678). Now a neighborhood of Philadelphia.
  8. Southwark, Pennsylvania (14,713). Now a neighborhood in South Philadelphia.
  9. Washington, District of Columbia (13,247). First appearance of the new capital in the Top Ten, where it wouldn’t appear again until 1950.
  10. Salem, Massachusetts (12,731). New England is losing its edge in the American scene, relatively.

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