Also one of the largest countries in the world by size, the United States is home to some big cities. Of the biggest cities in the US, ten have populations of more than one million, and the top four each have more than two million inhabitants.
In this post, we’ll look at the 30 largest cities in the US. We’ll see where they’re located, how many people live there, and learn what makes each of them unique.
Where are the biggest US cities?
The biggest cities in the US are located all over the country, as can be seen in the map below. Many of the largest cities are located near the country’s coastlines, and fewer are located near the center of the country.
US Map with cities (click to enlarge):
Interactive Heat Map: Top 30 Cities
The interactive map below highlights the locations of the 30 biggest cities in the US.
30 Biggest Cities in the US
Let’s take a look at the 30 largest cities in the US by population, starting with a Mid-Atlantic city near the nation’s capital.
30. Baltimore, Maryland
2021 Population Estimate: 569,330
Annapolis is the capital city of Maryland, but Baltimore is the most populous in the state. The area has been inhabited for thousands of years, although it was used primarily as hunting grounds by the indigenous Susquehannock people when Europeans arrived in the 17th century. Baltimore played an important role in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
Various neighborhoods in Baltimore have struggled with poverty in recent history, but the city has a diverse economy supported by manufacturing and financial services as well as activities at the Port of Baltimore. The city’s Inner Harbor is an area with a variety of restaurants, shops, and attractions like the Maryland Science Center and the Baltimore Aquarium.
29. Memphis, Tennessee
2021 Population Estimate: 576,498
Only smaller than Nashville, Memphis is the second-largest city in Tennessee. The city is located along the Mississippi River in the southwestern corner of the state and has been a site of human settlements for thousands of years. It was incorporated as a US city in 1826 and was named after Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt.
In modern history, the city has played an important role in the American Civil Rights Movement and was where the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. took place. It is the home of the National Civil Rights Museum. The city also has a strong music culture, and Beale Street hosts many music venues.
28. Louisville, Kentucky
2021 Population Estimate: 628,127
Louisville is the largest city in the state of Kentucky and the 28th-most populous city in the United States. It’s located in the northern, central part of the state near the border with Indiana and the Ohio River. The city was founded in 1778 and was named after King Louis XVI of France.
The Kentucky Derby, one of the most famous horse races in the world, takes place at Churchill Downs in Louisville. The city is also home to the University of Kentucky and the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.
27. Detroit, Michigan
2021 Population Estimate: 628,594
The largest state in Michigan and the largest on the US-Canada border is Detroit. It’s famous for the contributions it’s made to music, the arts, design, and the automotive industry in the US, making it a major cultural center in the country. It’s also given rise to the Motown and techno genres of music.
Detroit experienced economic hardship and population decline due to a loss of jobs in the auto industry and eventually filed for bankruptcy in 2013. The city has since been in the process of improving its economy and was named among the World’s Greatest Places 2022 by Time Magazine.
26. Portland, Oregon
2021 Population Estimate: 632,464
Portland has a population of more than 630,000, which makes it the 26th-largest city in the US. It’s also the largest city in Oregon and the second-largest largest in the Pacific Northwest. Portland is located just below the Columbia River and the Washington-Oregon state border.
Portland was named after the same city in Maine, and today has a reputation for progressive political values and a strong counterculture. The climate in Portland is ideal for growing roses, which has earned it the nickname, “City of Roses.”
25. Las Vegas, Nevada
2021 Population Estimate: 641,162
Las Vegas, Nevada is a city with an international reputation, known for the many casinos, resorts, and neon lights that line the famous Las Vegas Strip. The city is the largest in Nevada and is often just referred to as “Vegas.” It’s among the largest cities in the Southwestern US and is the financial, cultural, and commercial center for Nevada.
The city is located in a basin of the Mojave Desert and is surrounded by mountains. Its location lends Las Vegas a subtropical hot desert climate, meaning long, hot summers and short, mild winters. There are only roughly 26 rainy days each year.
24. Boston, Massachusetts
2021 Population Estimate: 646,790
Located in the Northeastern US in New England, Boston is the 24th-largest city in the US. It’s also the capital city of Massachusetts and the largest in the state. The city played an important historical role in the founding of the United States as the site of the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party.
Today, Boston is the financial and cultural hub of New England. Leading universities Harvard and MIT are located in the city, contributing to its role as a center for scientific research. The city is also an important hub for LGBTQ+ culture and activism.
23. Washington D.C.
2021 Population Estimate: 654,776
Washington D.C. is the 23rd-most populous city in the US. It’s also the capital city of the United States and the country’s only federal district. The city is situated on the east bank of the Potomac River next to Virginia and was named after George Washington, the first president of the US.
As the capital of the US, Washington D.C. is an important world political capital. It’s also one of the most visited cities in the US, receiving upwards of 20 million visitors in 2019, though it is recovering from lower numbers during the pandemic.
22. El Paso, Texas
2021 Population Estimate: 670,050
Texas is such a large state that six of its cities have made it onto this list of the largest cities in the US. El Paso is the sixth-largest city in Texas and the 22nd-largest in the US. It’s located on the US-Mexico border just across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juárez, the largest city in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
More than 80% of El Paso’s population is Hispanic, which makes it the second-largest Hispanic majority city in the US after San Antonio, Texas. The city also ranks among the safest large cities in the US due to its relatively low crime rate.
21. Nashville, Tennessee
2021 Population Estimate: 678,851
The capital and most populous city of Tennessee is Nashville. Often referred to as “Music City,” Nashville is a major center for the music industry in the US, especially country music. The city was founded in 1779 and was named after Francis Nash, a general during the American Revolutionary War.
In addition to its reputation as a music city, Nashville is known for the many educational institutions located in the city such as Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University, and Belmont University, among others. The largest economic sector in the city is the healthcare industry.
20. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
2021 Population Estimate: 687,725
Oklahoma City is the capital of Oklahoma, its biggest city, and among the 20 biggest cities in the US. The city’s cowboy culture and the Native American history in the area are two things it’s known for. The name of the city and the state comes from the Choctaw words okla, which translates to “people,” and humma, which translates to “red.”
Economically, Oklahoma City is strong. The city’s location in the middle of an oil field makes the production of oil, gas, and petroleum products its biggest industry. It’s also got one of the world’s largest cattle markets. The city also features a number of museums and theaters.
19. Denver, Colorado
2021 Population Estimate: 711,463
The capital and largest city of Colorado is Denver. The city’s elevation of exactly one mile (1,609 m) above sea level has earned it the nickname the “Mile High City.” The city is known for its beautiful natural landscapes and the nearby Rocky Mountains as well as museums, art galleries, and live music venues. The city is also known for its robust craft beer scene.
Denver was incorporated as a city in 1861, though it had been previously inhabited by indigenous peoples such as the Apaches, Utes, Arapahoes, Cheyennes, and Comanches. The city was named after Kansas Territorial Governor James W. Denver, and it became the capital of the Colorado Territory in 1867 before it was admitted to the Union in 1876.
18. Seattle, Washington
2021 Population Estimate: 733,919
Seattle is the largest city in the state of Washington and the largest in the Pacific Northwest region of the US. It’s also one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities and is becoming more racially diverse. The city is located next to Puget Sound and offers easy access to many outdoor activities like hiking, boating, and snow sports.
There are a number of large companies that originated in or are based in Seattle, such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Starbucks. The city was also where bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam developed the grunge music genre.
17. San Francisco, California
2021 Population Estimate: 815,201
Located in Northern California in the San Francisco Bay Area is San Francisco, the fourth-largest city in California by population. The city was officially incorporated in 1850 and its name is Spanish for “Saint Francis.” Among the city’s many nicknames are “SF,” “San Fran,” “Frisco,” “The Golden City,” or even just “The City.”
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is iconic, and Alamo Square Park is another popular tourist destination. The city is known for its high cost of living and for hosting the headquarters of major companies like Wells Fargo, Uber, and Twitter.
16. Charlotte, North Carolina
2021 Population Estimate: 879,709
The largest city in North Carolina and the seventh-largest in the Southern US is Charlotte. It is located in the southern part of the state, near the border with South Carolina and was incorporated in 1768. The city was named in honor of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz of Germany, who married King George III in 1761.
Charlotte is the second-largest banking center in the US, hosting the headquarters of several large financial institutions and functioning as an employment center for other large banks. The city is also a center for motorsports in the US and is the home of the country’s only Formula One team, HaasF1.
15. Indianapolis, Indiana
2021 Population Estimate: 882,039
Indianapolis is the capital and most populous city in the state of Indiana. It’s located in the center of the state and has a population of around 880,000, making it the 15th-biggest city in the US. The city’s location along major highways makes it an important transportation hub in the American Midwest and has lent it the nickname, “Crossroads of America.”
The area of Indianapolis had been inhabited for more than ten thousand years when European settlers arrived, and it was inhabited by the Lenape when the land was relinquished to the US in 1818. Indianapolis was founded in 1821.
14. Columbus, Ohio
2021 Population Estimate: 906,528
The city of Columbus in Ohio is the state’s capital and most populous city. The Scioto River runs through the city, along which there are a number of parks with trails and fountains. There are a total of more than 370 parks around Columbus, including the Columbus Park of Roses, which is a 13-acre rose garden.
The economy of Columbus is diverse and based on a number of industries such as education, insurance, banking, fashion, aviation, and logistics, among others. This diversification allowed the city to fare better than others during the Great Recession between 2007 and 2009.
13. Fort Worth, Texas
2021 Population Estimate: 935,508
Fort Worth is the 13th-largest city in the US and the 5th-largest in the state of Texas. It is situated adjacent to Dallas in north central Texas and was founded as a US fort in 1849. It was historically an important center for the Texas Longhorn cattle trade, an activity that earned it the nickname, “Cowtown.”
The cultural aspects of Fort Worth, Texas are largely based on the city’s Frontier Western heritage. The Stockyards historic district is one of the main attractions in the city, and the world’s first indoor rodeo, the Cowtown Coliseum, is located here.
12. Jacksonville, Florida
2021 Population Estimate: 954,614
It isn’t the state’s capital, but Jacksonville is the largest city in Florida by population. It’s located in the northeastern corner of the state near the Atlantic Ocean and the Florida-Georgia state border. The area was originally inhabited by the Timucuna people, becoming a French settlement in the mid-16th century before becoming US territory in 1822. The city is named after former US President Andrew Jackson.
Some key contributors to the Jacksonville economy are the Port of Jacksonville, the banking and insurance industries, and tourism. Golf tourism is one of the biggest industries in the city and the larger northeastern region of Florida.
11. Austin, Texas
2021 Population Estimate: 964,177
Austin may be the fourth-largest city in Texas, but it’s also the state capital. Austin is located just southeast of the center of Texas and is known for being a little bit different than the rest of the state. Specifically, it’s more politically liberal and more culturally diverse than the rest of Texas. It’s also famous for its music scene and has been called the “Live Music Capital of the World.”
In addition to the live music and liberal politics in Austin, it’s known for the many parks and green spaces that dot the city as well as the easy access it offers to outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and swimming.
10. San Jose, California
2021 Population Estimate: 983,489
Silicon Valley is a region in California that is famous worldwide for its role as a global center for high technology, and the city at the heart of this region is San Jose. The city is the third-largest in California and makes the top ten biggest cities in the US with a population of around 983,489.
In addition to its reputation as a center for high-tech industries, San Jose is also known for its cultural diversity and warm, mild climate. The area of the city was inhabited by the Tamien nation before the arrival of the Spanish and the founding of San Jose in 1777.
9. Dallas, Texas
2021 Population Estimate: 1,288,457
Dallas is the first city on this list with a population of more than one million, and it’s the third-largest in Texas. The city is located next to Fort Worth, and these two cities make up the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, which was home to almost 7.5 million people in 2017.
The city of Dallas is located in North Texas, an area that was inhabited by indigenous tribes such as the Caddo, Tawakoni, Wichita, Kickapoo, and Comanche. Beginning in the 18th century, the area was controlled by Spain, France, Mexico, and The Republic of Texas before it was formally incorporated as a US city in 1856.
8. San Diego, California
2021 Population Estimate: 1,381,611
San Diego is one of four Californian cities on this list and is the eighth-largest in the US with a population of around 1,381,611. The city is located just north of California’s border with Mexico on the Pacific coast. Sandy beaches, a warm climate, and plenty of parks are some of the things San Diego is known for.
There are a number of popular cultural attractions in San Diego, especially museums. It’s where you’ll find museums like the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Diego Natural History Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, among others.
7. San Antonio, Texas
2021 Population Estimate: 1,451,853
San Antonio is located in south central Texas and is a major US city. Some of the things it is known for are its iconic River Walk, Hispanic culture, and the Alamo, which is the top tourist attraction in Texas. San Antonio also has a thriving food scene and was named a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy in 2017.
The economy of San Antonio is diversified, and some of the major industries are health care, the military, oil and gas, and tourism. More than 20 million tourists visit the city each year, with the Alamo and the River Walk acting as major attractions.
6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2021 Population Estimate: 1,576,251
Also called Philly or the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia is the largest city in Pennsylvania and the sixth-largest in the US. The city is famous for a number of reasons, including its role in early US history. The city was founded by an English Quaker in 1682 and became a regular meeting place for the Founding Fathers of the United States.
Other Philadelphia claims to fame include Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches, the setting of the movie Rocky, and the Liberty Bell. The city was also established as the first national capital in 1774.
5. Phoenix, Arizona
2021 Population Estimate: 1,624,569
Phoenix is the largest city in Arizona, and as the capital of the state, it’s also the largest capital city in the US. The city’s location in the Sonoran Desert gives it a hot desert climate that doesn’t see much precipitation, although the canal system developed by the indigenous Hohokam people made it possible for large farming communities to thrive here.
The warm weather in Phoenix makes it a popular tourist destination, especially during winter months, when tourists enjoy the city’s many resorts and golf courses. The city is also home to one of the largest zoos in the US.
4. Houston, Texas
2021 Population Estimate: 2,288,250
The biggest city in the state of Texas is Houston, which is located in southeastern Texas, about 50 miles (80 km) from the Gulf of Mexico. Houston is known for its diverse population, the Houston Space Center, and annual festivals like the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the Bayou City Art Festival.
The major economic industries in Houston are oil and natural gas, biomedical research, and aeronautics. Other contributors to the city’s economy are major technology companies and the Houston Ship Channel.
3. Chicago, Illinois
2021 Population Estimate: 2,696,555
Chicago is located on the banks of Lake Michigan in Illinois and is the third-biggest city in the US. Also known as the “Windy City,” Chicago is famous for its cuisine — namely, Chicago-style pizza and hot dogs — its storied music scene, and its history of 1920s gangsters like Al Capone.
Tourism in Chicago is popular, and one of the biggest attractions is Millenium Park, which consists of 25 acres of land and a variety of free cultural events. The city also has hundreds of miles of bicycle paths and 600 parks.
2. Los Angeles, California
2021 Population Estimate: 3,849,297
The city with the second-highest population in the US is Los Angeles, also known as “LA,” in California. The city is located in the southern part of the state, which makes for a warm climate with sunny days all year. LA is famous around the world for the Hollywood film industry and for its attractive beaches.
The name Los Angeles comes from the Spanish for “The Angeles,” and this is why the city is sometimes referred to as the “City of Angels.” There is a diverse group of ethnicities that make up the city’s population, reflected in its ethnic enclaves like Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Armenia, Little Tokyo, and several others.
1. New York City, New York
2021 Population Estimate: 8,467,513
In addition to being the biggest city in the US, New York City is one of the most famous cities in the world. The towering skyscrapers, the neon lights of Times Square, and the city’s reputation for high activity at all times of day and night have earned it its international reputation.
There are more than 8.4 million people living in New York City, which makes it more than twice as big as Los Angeles, the next biggest US city. New York receives millions of tourists from all over the world thanks to attractions like the Museum of Modern Art, the Statue of Liberty, Broadway, and much more.
List of All Cities With Over 100,000 Inhabitants
There are 328 cities in the US with a population of over 100,000.
|1||New York, New York||8,467,513|
|2||Los Angeles, California||3,849,297|
|7||San Antonio, Texas||1,451,853|
|8||San Diego, California||1,381,611|
|10||San Jose, California||983,489|
|13||Fort Worth, Texas||935,508|
|16||Charlotte, North Carolina||879,709|
|17||San Francisco, California||815,201|
|22||El Paso, Texas||678,415|
|23||Washington, District of Columbia||670,050|
|25||Las Vegas, Nevada||646,790|
|32||Albuquerque, New Mexico||562,599|
|40||Colorado Springs, Colorado||483,956|
|41||Raleigh, North Carolina||469,124|
|42||Virginia Beach, Virginia||457,672|
|43||Long Beach, California||456,062|
|53||New Orleans, Louisiana||376,971|
|56||Urban Honolulu CDP, Hawaii||345,510|
|60||Corpus Christi, Texas||317,773|
|62||Santa Ana, California||309,441|
|66||Newark, New Jersey||307,220|
|67||St. Paul, Minnesota||307,193|
|69||Greensboro, North Carolina||298,263|
|70||St. Louis, Missouri||293,310|
|74||Durham, North Carolina||285,527|
|75||Jersey, New Jersey||283,927|
|77||Chula Vista, California||277,220|
|78||Buffalo, New York||276,807|
|79||North Las Vegas, Nevada||274,133|
|80||Gilbert town, Arizona||273,136|
|84||Fort Wayne, Indiana||265,974|
|86||St. Petersburg, Florida||258,201|
|90||Winston-Salem, North Carolina||250,320|
|99||Santa Clarita, California||224,593|
|100||San Bernardino, California||222,203|
|101||Baton Rouge, Louisiana||222,185|
|105||Port St. Lucie, Florida||217,523|
|107||Des Moines, Iowa||212,031|
|108||Moreno Valley, California||211,600|
|111||Rochester, New York||210,606|
|112||Yonkers, New York||209,530|
|113||Fayetteville, North Carolina||208,778|
|116||Cape Coral, Florida||204,510|
|118||Little Rock, Arkansas||201,998|
|122||Salt Lake, Utah||200,478|
|125||Grand Rapids, Michigan||197,416|
|126||Grand Prairie, Texas||197,347|
|127||Overland Park, Kansas||197,106|
|129||Huntington Beach, California||196,652|
|130||Sioux Falls, South Dakota||196,528|
|135||Providence, Rhode Island||189,692|
|139||Newport News, Virginia||184,587|
|143||Fort Lauderdale, Florida||181,668|
|145||Elk Grove, California||178,997|
|148||Cary town, North Carolina||176,987|
|149||Santa Rosa, California||176,938|
|150||Rancho Cucamonga, California||175,142|
|154||Garden Grove, California||170,488|
|157||Pembroke Pines, Florida||169,391|
|158||Fort Collins, Colorado||168,538|
|163||Paterson, New Jersey||157,794|
|165||Macon-Bibb County, Georgia||156,762|
|174||Charleston, South Carolina||151,612|
|188||Syracuse, New York||146,103|
|197||West Valley, Utah||139,110|
|201||Columbia, South Carolina||137,541|
|203||Cedar Rapids, Iowa||136,467|
|207||Elizabeth, New Jersey||135,407|
|208||New Haven, Connecticut||135,081|
|211||Sterling Heights, Michigan||133,269|
|213||Coral Springs, Florida||132,822|
|216||Athens-Clarke County unified government (balance), Georgia||127,358|
|217||Santa Clara, California||127,151|
|219||Fargo, North Dakota||126,748|
|221||Simi Valley, California||125,975|
|225||Thousand Oaks, California||125,754|
|229||Round Rock, Texas||123,876|
|232||Palm Bay, Florida||122,942|
|235||Ann Arbor, Michigan||121,536|
|238||College Station, Texas||120,019|
|240||Wilmington, North Carolina||117,643|
|241||North Charleston, South Carolina||117,472|
|243||West Palm Beach, Florida||117,286|
|247||West Jordan, Utah||116,541|
|250||Broken Arrow, Oklahoma||116,330|
|253||Manchester, New Hampshire||115,462|
|258||High Point, North Carolina||114,086|
|267||Las Cruces, New Mexico||112,914|
|274||Pompano Beach, Florida||111,348|
|275||Miami Gardens, Florida||110,867|
|278||Costa Mesa, California||110,750|
|279||San Buenaventura (Ventura), California||109,925|
|281||Santa Maria, California||109,711|
|282||Sugar Land, Texas||109,373|
|284||South Fulton, Georgia||108,575|
|286||Concord, North Carolina||107,697|
|288||Sandy Springs, Georgia||107,180|
|289||West Covina, California||107,017|
|290||Green Bay, Wisconsin||107,015|
|292||Jurupa Valley, California||106,941|
|293||El Monte, California||106,907|
|298||Spokane Valley, Washington||105,905|
|299||Rio Rancho, New Mexico||105,834|
|301||El Cajon, California||105,432|
|305||Davie town, Florida||104,882|
|308||South Bend, Indiana||103,353|
|310||Wichita Falls, Texas||102,988|
|311||Lee's Summit, Missouri||102,781|
|314||San Mateo, California||102,200|
|323||New Bedford, Massachusetts||100,941|
Data source: City and Town Population Totals 2021, US Census Bureau.