Are you curious about what the biggest cities in the United States are? This is actually a somewhat difficult question to answer. It depends on whether or not you define “biggest city” by land area or by population.
In terms of land area, the top ten largest cities in the US are:
In terms of population, the largest cities are:
Now that we’ve established which cities are the largest by both land area and population, let’s take a closer look at each of these cities.
Biggest Cities By Land Area
Four out of the top ten largest cities by land area in the US are found in Alaska: Sitka, Juneau, Wrangell, and Anchorage.
Sitka, Alaska is the city with the largest land area in the United States, having a land area of approximately 2870 square miles or 7400 square kilometers. This makes Sitka one of the least densely populated cities in the US, as it has a population only around 8,880 people. Sitka is located in the south-eastern part of the state. Sitka functions as a large port on the west coast, and it is the 6th largest seafood harvest port in the entire country.
Juneau, Alaska is the capital city of Alaska, found within the Alaskan panhandle, and it is the second biggest city in the US in terms of land area, with an area of around 3254 square miles or around 8,428 square kilometers. The population of Juneau is estimated to be about 31,280 individuals. Juneau is an isolated city, without a substantial road network surrounding it (thanks to the mountainous terrain), and most travel in and out of the city must be done by boat or plane. The tourism industry, the fishing industry, and mining make up notable portions of the city’s economy. Despite several attempts to move Alaska’s capital to Fairbanks, Juneau has remained Alaska’s capital.
Wrangell, Alaska is located to the southeast of Juneau, and like Sitka and Juneau it has a large land area. The city has a land area of approximately 8970 square kilometers or 3460 square miles. In terms of population, the city is home to around 2,500 people. Wrangell encompasses the urban portion of Wrangell Island and the more remote outer regions, making up the Wrangell Borough. Fishing is the primary economic activity in Wrangell.
Anchorage, Alaska is the fourth largest city by land area in the US. The total land area of the Anchorage borough is around 1963 square miles or 5083 square kilometers. The city’s population is around 291,820 people in size. Anchorage functions as the largest port in Alaska, receiving around 95% of all goods that come to Alaska. Anchorage serves as a major sector for state and federal government, military, transportation, and tourism. Anchorage is found on the southern-central edge of Alaska, sitting on a peninsula at the end of Cook Inlet. A large amount of wildlife is found in the Anchorage area, including moose and bears.
Jacksonville, Florida is the fifth largest city in terms of area in the United States, with a total land area of around 875 square miles, or 2265 square kilometers. The population of Jacksonville is around 822,000 people. Much like other coastal cities on this list, Jacksonville serves as a major deepwater port. Jacksonville has also seen recent growth as a tech center, with many large Fortune 500 companies like Fidelity National Financial, Southeastern Grocers and CSX corporation set up in the city. Jacksonville is also host to three different naval facilities, and it serves as the third largest naval region in the US.
Anaconda, Montana is the sixth largest city in the US in terms of land area, with a total area of approximately 742 square miles or 1920 square kilometers. The population of Anaconda is around 9300. Anaconda is located along the continental divide, and it is fora long time mineral processing was the primary driver of the city’s economy. This mineral processing contaminated much of the surrounding area, and clean up operations have attempted to reduce much of the contamination in recent years.
Montana is also home to one of the other largest cities by land area in the US, the city of Butte, Montana. Butte is home to around 33,500 people and it covers a land area of around 1860 square kilometers or 718 square miles. The city started out as mining camp in 1864, and like Anaconda, environmental issues caused by mining and mineral processing have affected the surrounding area. The city has transitioned to investing in energy companies, mainly renewable energy companies, to support their economy.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma is the capital city of the state of Oklahoma and it is home to around 1,397,000 people. In terms of land area, the city comprises around 620 square miles or 1606 square kilometers in area. Oklahoma City has grown substantially over the past decade, and it has a strong economy with many businesses starting in the city. Two Fortune 500 companies are headquartered there, and three major interstates run through the city.
Houston, Texas is the fourth largest city in the United States in terms of population and the ninth largest city in terms of area, with a land area of around 637 square miles or 1623 square kilometers of land area. Houston is home to around 2,100,000 people. Houston is home to a strong energy sector, including natural gas and solar/wind power. Aeronautics and biomedical research are also major industries within eh city. The Port of Houston is among the ten largest ports in the world and it handles imports for Texas and the US as a whole. Houston is home to many parks, over 330 total.
Phoenix, Arizona is the fifth most populated city in the United States, as well as the tenth largest city in the United States by terms of land area. The city has a land area of approximately 519 square miles or 1343 square kilometers. Phoenix initially relied on agriculture and natural resources to support itself, but in recent times, real estate, insurance, retail trade, health care, and manufacturing are the biggest industries in the city. Phoenix has grown substantially in the past couple decades, and it is the second-fastest growing city in the US, with only Las Vegas surpassing it.
The Largest Cities By Population
The ten largest cities in the US by population are:
New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Antonia, San Diego, Dallas, and San Jose.
New York City
New York City is the largest city in terms of population in the entire United States. The population of New York City is approximately 8,400,000 people. In terms of land area, New York City is comprised of around 468,480 square miles or 302,600 square kilometers in size.
New York City is divided into five different boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and The Bronx. In terms of economics, New York City has incredibly versatile and varied economic sectors like world trade, retailing, tourism, new media, transportation, legal services and many more.
The city of Los Angeles is the second largest city in the US after New York City, the largest city in the state of California, and it has a population of around 3,990,00 people. The entertainment industry drives much of Los Angeles’ economic activity, with many movie, television and video game companies set up there. The aerospace industry, international trade, fashion, and tourism industries are also major drivers of LA’s economy. LA is sometimes called the “Creative Capital of the World”, as many of its residents work in creative industries.
Chicago is the third largest city in the US in terms of population. It has an estimated population of 2,705,000 people, and Chicago serves as a major hub for the telecommunications and technology industries. Chicago is home to O’Hare International Airport, and in addition to air traffic, a large amount of railroad freight moves through the city.
See Houston’s entry above.
See Phoenix’s entry above.
Philadelphia is the sixth largest city in the US, with a population of of around 1584,000 people. Philadelphia has a rich cultural history, with the Liberty Bell and the site of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence found within the city. Pennslyvania is home to a number of Fortune 1000 companies, and its economy is driven by health care, information technology, trade, biotechnology, and manufacturing.
San Antonio is the seventh most populated city in the US with a population of around 1,511,000 people. San Antonio has continued to grow since the late twentieth century, and the city’s population double from around 650,000 people in 1970 to around 1.2 million in 2005. San Antonio’s economy is driven mainly by health care, military and government services, financial services, and tourism.
San Diego is found in California, and with a population of approximately 1,419,000 people, it is the eighth largest city in the United States. In terms of land area, the city of San Diego comprises about 372 mi.² or 964 km² in area. San Diego is known for its mild, pleasant weather, with an average of approximately 70°F or 21°C, and highs of 70°F or 26 degrees Celsius. The military/defense sector supports much of San Diego’s economy, and the city is home to the biggest naval fleet on the planet. Research and manufacturing jobs, as well as international trade and tourism also drive the city’s economy.
Dallas Texas is home to approximately 1,345,000 people, making it the ninth largest city in the US by population. In terms of area, the city sits on around 386 mi.² or 999 km² of area. Dallas is an extremely diverse city, with many of its citizens coming from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, and it is also home to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport which happens to be one of the busiest airports on the globe. Dallas has a strong economy supported by many large companies including alliance data systems, JCPenney, Dr. Pepper, Exxon Mobil, Southwest Airlines, Texas Instruments and more.’
San Jose is home to around 1,036,000 people, making it the 10th most populated city in the country, as well as the third most populated city in the state of California following Los Angeles and San Diego. San Jose functions as the center of Silicon Valley, and as such much of its economy is driven by computer technology and other forms of technology research and engineering. While San Jose has a strong economy, the cost of living in the city is one of the highest in the nation.