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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I realize this really is a matter of opinion, but I want to get some other points of view on the subject. The most interesting aspect to me is that someone from Dallas, Houston, Atlanta , or Miami certainly believes they are in a "big city", and would consider places like Charlotte, New Orleans, San Antonio, or Austin as "small". Yet, people from New York City, Chicago, or Los Angeles would consider them all "small". I have personally come up with this way to categorize large cities; when a metro surpasses 2 million you can be considered a "big city", when a metro surpasses 5 million you can be considered a "metropolis", and when a metro surpasses the 10 million mark you become a "megapolis", "giant", or whatever other name you can think up. Because places that large are few and far between, and really cannot be compared to 99% of cities.
 

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I think Atlanta, Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, etc. are big cities. But, I think Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Charlotte, Birmingham, Memphis, etc are also big cities. Some cities are simply "bigger" than others, but, once you reach a metro population of around a half of a million people, I consider that to be a big city....not huge, but, big...that's a lot of people living in one area. Now, when you bring into the fold the word, "major," you are looking at a different area that doesn't necessarily rely on population as much. I would say Miami, Atlanta, New Orleans, Birmingham, Charlotte, Memphis, Houston, Dallas/Fort Worth, etc are major cities. But, I would also say that places like Raleigh/Durham, Mobile, Baton Rouge, Little Rock, Jacksonville, etc. aren't quite in the "major" category, even though these cities have a population to be considered "big."
 

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I think the definition of big city has changed over the past 35 years. It used to apply more exclusively to more typical urban areas like Chicago, NY, LA San Fran, etc. etc. However, with the growth of suburbia and the decline of center cities
I think the definition of big city to most people has more to do with the image than anything else (just like everything else in this society). For example, most people would consider Atlanta, Houston and Dallas big cities although they are by and large suburban in nature. Either way there are the same problems that are associated with more 'true' urban areas--bad traffic, higher crime in some areas, etc.

So in that regard it probably refers to about 20 cities/metros in the US.
 

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I agree that "big" cities are pegged at around the 2 million mark. I think of "medium" cities as being between 500,000 and 1.5 million. Small cities are less than 500,000 but more than 100,000. Anything under 100,000 is a town to me, not a city.

NYC, Chicago and the like are not merely "big", they're HUGE!
 

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I think those are all "American" definitions of "big city." Once I moved to Asia and visited no-name "suburbs" of places like Osaka, Tokyo and Nagoya with populations of 600,000-700,000 in areas under 30 sq miles, I realized just how "small" most American cities really are.

Now that I have this new perspective, the only "big" cities in the US in my opinion are New York and LA. Chicago might squeeze in, but even places like Boston, Washington and SF are moderately small to me now.
 

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I think there are various marks to consider when thinking about size of a city:
metro
urban area
urban core

Of course there is not a measurement of the urban core, beyond the ranking of population in 1920, but perhaps a view of the population densities would provide some insight. The urban area is also considered to mark what the continious size of the primary city. Then there is the metro of course.
 

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I had read in one of those travel books that a city attains big city status when it reaches 500,000, but to me that's not accurate because the central city of Atlanta is not 500,000 but it's metro is over 5,000,000 and in my opinion the metro is what counts.
 

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bigboyz2004 said:
I had read in one of those travel books that a city attains big city status when it reaches 500,000, but to me that's not accurate because the central city of Atlanta is not 500,000 but it's metro is over 5,000,000 and in my opinion the metro is what counts.
atlanta is relatively small though. probably the smallest sunbelt city outside miami in area in its tier.
 

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texasboy said:
atlanta is relatively small though. probably the smallest sunbelt city outside miami in area in its tier.
Agreed - even discounting municipal boundaries, Atlanta is likely only 100k within it's immediate urban core as Miami, Houston & Dallas are significantly larger (200k to 500k).

In my view - Atlanta is a medium sized urban core, a large urban area (over 1 million) & a large metro.
 

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TheBrad said:
Agreed - even discounting municipal boundaries, Atlanta is likely only 100k within it's immediate urban core as Miami, Houston & Dallas are significantly larger (200k to 500k).

In my view - Atlanta is a medium sized urban core, a large urban area (over 1 million) & a large metro.
well really i was defending the fact of why atlanta's city population is under 500K and the metro is close to 5 million, which has something to do with the area of the city of atlanta, which i believe is barely over 100 square miles if i am not mistaken. i really was not referring to the urban core. when bigboyz2004 was referring to central city Atlanta, i thought he was talking about the city limits and not the core.
 

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Big Cities

Norfolk (1,600,000) and Richmond (1,100,000) should at least be mentioned in this thread as "Major" if not Big cities, don't you folks agree?
 

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Our history with sprawl has taught us that city population can be very deceiving. You have situations such as Atlanta's in which the city pop doesn't show the whole picture and areas such as Phoenix, the country's 5th largest city (by census estimate) yet when you're there you wouldn't think it due to its suburban character.

I'm fond of UA definitions. Over 1 million in UA you're big within your region. Over 2 million in UA you're big in the country. Over 5 or 10 million in UA you're big anywhere.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
lammius said:
Our history with sprawl has taught us that city population can be very deceiving. You have situations such as Atlanta's in which the city pop doesn't show the whole picture and areas such as Phoenix, the country's 5th largest city (by census estimate) yet when you're there you wouldn't think it due to its suburban character.

I'm fond of UA definitions. Over 1 million in UA you're big within your region. Over 2 million in UA you're big in the country. Over 5 or 10 million in UA you're big anywhere.
I was just on the census 2000 site and couldn't find UA rankings. Could someone list maybe the top 50 with population from the 2000 census? If, so, thank you in advance!
 

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TheBrad said:
Agreed - even discounting municipal boundaries, Atlanta is likely only 100k within it's immediate urban core as Miami, Houston & Dallas are significantly larger (200k to 500k).

In my view - Atlanta is a medium sized urban core, a large urban area (over 1 million) & a large metro.
Did you already forget this?

Population Comparisons Based on Distance from Downtown

Which you posted and showed Atlanta to be very similar to the other large cities>
 

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^ Thanks for the reminder - I got the number - 100k - (besides my ass ;)) from an abandoned project where I attempted to valuate urban cores for large cities. That is where I got that number from...
 

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I heard something on NPR about the size of US cities. There are (I believe) 4 US cities with a population over 1 million (city proper, not metro area). China alone has over 100. I would agree with the person from Japan that globally American cities are pretty small. But what defines a city as big for me is the city's image, marketability and the culture that it produces (cultural and learning centers are ’bigger” than employment centers, though a combination is ideal). Regardless of the number of folks living in Phoenix, for example, I'll never consider it a "big" city because it doesn't produce anything big. Bear in mind that both Athens and Florence at the height of their importance probably had populations only in the 10's of thousands. That said, some of the cities mentioned here as big don’t even register as “world cities”, but smaller ones do. A big city without an image or product that is globally appealing is nothing more than a bedroom community.
 

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why don't we just look at population density?and stop bickering about urban cores and crap alike.
 

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The Mad Hatter!! said:
http://demographia.com/db-uauscan.htm

in my opinon this answers it,i know many won't agree but w/e
i don't know. it's hard to find the true density of cities, but wouldn't you disagree with a lot of those cities above Philly and Seattle.

i think the best way is the radius method as shown in the other thread unless the city has a unique geographical location, but naturally that makes the density level even greater.
 

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I can believe that New Orleans is #6 with density. We have nowhere to go, but, up, and I'm getting confirmations of new 50 and 60 storey structures to be announced very soon in this city. I attended a speech today by someone with the Mayor's economic development team.
 
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