Albany was once the 9th largest city in the nation, by population. And Schenectady the 17th. And Troy the 19th.
It's true. Of course, that was in 1840, 1800, and 1840.
Inspired by this chart of the nation's most populous metro areas over the country's history [via], we figured it'd be interesting to chart the national ranks (up to 100) of New York cities from 1790-2010. A few of the rankings surprised us (Cohoes! Watervliet!). And the trends help illustrate New York State's shifting position within the nation.
OK, let's have a look...
A graph and table are above in large format -- click or scroll all the way up.
A few things
+ At various points in the mid-to-late 19th century, New York State had 14 of the largest cities in the country.
+ It's remarkable that New York City has held the top spot for so long. (Brooklyn drops off the graph because it was combined with New York.)
+ The 20th century is pretty much one long decline.
+ 1820-1860 must have been an interesting time for the influence of the area now known as the Capital Region -- at various points it had as many as four of the nation's 100 biggest cities.
+ Look at what's now Watervliet at #97 in 1850. And Cohoes at #97 in 1870.
+ The population totals in some of those early years are... modest. In 1790 Albany was the 19th most populous city in the country -- with 3,498 people.
+ Even though Albany's national rank crested from 1830-1840, its actual population didn't reach its high mark until 1950 when it hit almost 135,000. (The Census Bureau estimates there were 97,904 people living in Albany as of 2012.)
+ Schenectady's an interesting case -- it drops out of the top 100 for four decades, reappearing in 1910. Between 1900 and 1910 the city's population increased almost 130 percent. Can you guess what happened around that time?
Wikipedia: Demographics of New York
Wikipedia: Demographics of the United States [via the Census Bureau]
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