Columbus Metro Density vs. Peer and Midwest Metros

No, this is not a repost. Awhile back, I did a post on population by mile marker from “City Hall”. You can find that post here: http://allcolumbusdata.com/?p=1079
In the post, I compared Columbus with the 14 other largest Midwest metros.

Over the years, I’ve learned that Columbus has a very suburban reputation, meaning that it is perceived to have very low density throughout, especially because it aggressively annexed suburban areas into the city limits decades ago. With those claims, I wondered what the density would be if Columbus’ area size was scaled down to others to find out if it really deserves the suburban reputation. Bare with me, because there is a lot to look at.

First, I used Columbus’ 18 peer metros (population 1.5-2.5 million) as well as the 14 large Midwest metros. Since there was some overlap in the 2 groups, it made for a total group comparison of 27. So a fairly sizeable group. Next, I used the mile marker population, which in the City Hall census analysis is made up of circles going out from the center. So it’s just a matter of finding the area of each circle and dividing the population into that. What’s left is the density by area.

Density at Mile Marker 1, with an Area of 3.14 Square Miles.

2000———————————-2010
1. Chicago: 42,492.4______________________ 1. Chicago:57,870.7
2. Minneapolis: 36,801.6__________________ 2. Minneapolis: 39,339.5
3. Providence, RI: 36,476.1_______________ 3. Providence, RI: 36,693.0
4. San Jose, CA: 31,854.8_________________ 4. San Jose, CA: 33,438.9
5. Las Vegas: 27,618.8____________________ 5. Milwaukee: 27,471.7
6. Milwaukee: 26,755.1____________________ 6. Portland, OR: 25,987.6
7. Grand Rapids, MI: 25,748.1_____________ 7. Las Vegas: 25,069.1
8. Pittsburgh: 25,570.7___________________ 8. Grand Rapids, MI: 24,080.6
9. Cincinnati: 22,728.0___________________ 9. Pittsburgh: 23,464.3
10. Portland, OR: 21,256.1________________ 10. Austin, TX: 23,149.4
11. Toledo: 20,973.6______________________ 11. Cincinnati: 20,781.5
12. Austin, TX: 20,301.9__________________ 12. San Antonio, TX: 18,596.8
13. San Antonio, TX: 20,156.7_____________ 13. Omaha: 17,905.7
14. Akron: 19,946.2_______________________ 14. Toledo: 17,751.3
15. Omaha: 17,922.6_______________________ 15. Akron: 17,106.7
16. Dayton: 16,311.5______________________ 16. Columbus: 15,817.5
17. Columbus: 16,151.6____________________ 17. Nashville: 15,529.3
18. Indianapolis: 15,865.6________________ 18. Sacramento, CA: 15,512.7
19. Nashville: 15,554.4___________________ 19. Charlotte, NC: 14,873.9
20. Sacramento, CA: 15,385.7______________ 20. Indianapolis: 14,356.4

Density at Mile Marker 2, with an Area of 12.57 Square Miles.
2000————————————–2010
1. Chicago: 22,808.1______________________ 1. Chicago: 25,339.9
2. San Jose, CA: 18,854.7_________________ 2. San Jose, CA: 19,696.3
3. Minneapolis: 17,936.8__________________ 3. Minneapolis: 18,212.2
4. Milwaukee: 16,799.9____________________ 4. Milwaukee: 16,609.1
5. Providence, RI: 16,134.9_______________ 5. Providence, RI: 16,457.6
6. Las Vegas: 16,016.4____________________ 6. Las Vegas: 15,331.4
7. Pittsburgh: 13,232.7___________________ 7. Austin, TX: 12,524.4
8. San Antonio, TX: 12,427.0______________ 8. Pittsburgh: 12,123.2
9. Cincinnati: 12,250.1___________________ 9. Portland, OR: 11,881.0
10. Austin, TX: 12,152.8__________________ 10. San Antonio, TX: 11,690.5
11. Columbus: 11,203.7____________________ 11. Sacramento, CA: 11,324.8
12. Akron: 10,999.9_______________________ 12. Cincinnati: 10,997.2
13. Grand Rapids, MI: 10,884.2____________ 13. Columbus: 10,726.0
14. Sacramento, CA: 10,606.1______________ 14. Grand Rapids, MI: 10,146.0
15. Dayton: 9,756.8_______________________ 15. Akron: 9,737.1
16. Indianapolis: 9,383.0_________________ 16. Omaha: 8,993.2
17. Omaha: 8,960.7________________________ 17. Indianapolis: 8,147.3
18. Toledo: 8,816.9_______________________ 18. Dayton: 8,100.0
19. Orlando: 8,212.5______________________ 19. Charlotte: 8,086.8
20. Charlotte: 8,095.5____________________ 20. Nashville: 7,777.6

Density at Mile Marker 3, with an Area of 28.27 Square Miles
2000————————————2010
1. Chicago: 17,528.7_____________________ 1. Chicago: 18,003.2
2. San Jose, CA: 13,883.0________________ 2. San Jose, CA: 14,549.2
3. Las Vegas: 11,646.0___________________ 3. Las Vegas: 11,576.2
4. Minneapolis: 11,494.2_________________ 4. Minneapolis: 11,503.3
5. Milwaukee: 11,448.9___________________ 5. Milwaukee: 11,288.0
6. Providence: 11,173.7__________________ 6. Providence, RI: 11,240.2
7. Pittsburgh: 10,594.4__________________ 7. Pittsburgh: 9,738.7
8. San Antonio. TX: 9,234.3______________ 8. Portland, OR: 8,973.6
9. Portland, OR: 8,257.0_________________ 9. San Antonio, TX: 8,846.8
10. Cincinnati: 8,141.9__________________ 10. Columbus: 7,834.0
11. Columbus: 8,134.9____________________ 11. Sacramento, CA: 7,668.7
12. Sacramento, CA: 7,261.5______________ 12. Austin, TX: 7,534.0
13. Austin, TX: 7,232.3__________________ 13. Cincinnati: 7,273.6
14. Akron: 6,925.4_______________________ 14. Grand Rapids, MI: 6,540.0
15. Grand Rapids, MI: 6,852.0____________ 15. Akron: 6,284.9
16. Indianapolis: 6,727.9________________ 16. Orlando: 6,055.1
17. Toledo: 6,651.5______________________ 17. Omaha: 5,968.3
18. Dayton: 6,382.8______________________ 18. Toledo: 5,982.1
19. St. Louis: 6,093.7___________________ 19. Indianapolis: 5,879.9
20. Kansas City: 6,025.1_________________ 20. St. Louis: 5,663.8

Density at Mile Marker 4, with an Area of 50.27 Square Miles
2000———————————2010
1. Chicago: 15,447.2____________________ 1. Chicago: 15,205.9
2. San Jose, CA: 12,209.3_______________ 2. San Jose, CA: 12,629.6
3. Las Vegas: 9,788.0___________________ 3. Las Vegas: 10,022.2
4. Minneapolis: 8,874.4_________________ 4. Minneapolis: 8,921.8
5. Milwaukee: 8,823.8___________________ 5. Milwaukee: 8,725.5
6. Providence, RI: 8,454.3______________ 6. Providence, RI: 8,483.8
7. Pittsburgh: 8,216.0__________________ 7. Portland, OR: 7,785.5
8. Portland, OR: 7,282.9________________ 8. Pittsburgh: 7,602.6
9. San Antonio, TX: 7,208.6_____________ 9. San Antonio, TX: 6,995.5
10. Cincinnati: 6,922.8_________________ 10. Cincinnati: 6,279.4
11. Columbus: 6,449.3___________________ 11. Columbus: 6,257.4
12. Sacramento, CA: 5,744.7_____________ 12. Sacramento, CA: 6,138.5
13. Austin, TX: 5,541.5_________________ 13. Austin, TX: 5,847.2
14. St. Louis: 5,447.5__________________ 14. Omaha: 5,047.2
15. Cleveland: 5,356.2__________________ 15. St. Louis: 5,001.6
16. Indianapolis: 5,348.8_______________ 16. Grand Rapids, MI: 4,922.9
17. Detroit: 5,163.1____________________ 17. Orlando: 4,911.7
18. Omaha: 5,019.8______________________ 18. Indianapolis: 4,793.5
19. Akron: 4,900.7______________________ 19. Akron: 4,532.0
20. Dayton: 4,889.3_____________________ 20. Cleveland: 4,521.8

Density at Mile Marker 5, with an Area of 78.54 Square Miles

Note that this area size is about the current city size of Cincinnati and Cleveland.
2000————————————2010
1. Chicago: 14,213.6___________________ 1. Chicago: 13,591.0
2. San Jose, CA: 10,464.0______________ 2. San Jose, CA: 11,037.1
3. Las Vegas: 8,521.9__________________ 3. Las Vegas: 9,062.8
4. Minneapolis: 7,443.0________________ 4. Minneapolis: 7,455.9
5. Milwaukee: 7,081.2__________________ 5. Milwaukee: 7,029.1
6. Pittsburgh: 7,009.9_________________ 6. Pittsburgh: 6,492.7
7. San Antonio, TX: 6,326.6____________ 7. Portland, OR: 6,442.3
8. Providence, RI: 6,048.3_____________ 8. San Antonio, TX: 6,223.4
9. Portland, OR: 5,950.1_______________ 9. Providence, RI: 6,055.8
10. Cincinnati: 5,588.9________________ 10. Sacramento, CA: 5,664.2
11. Cleveland: 5,494.6_________________ 11. Orlando: 5,274.1
12. Columbus: 5,252.9__________________ 12. Columbus: 5,152.1
13. Sacramento, CA: 5,104.0____________ 13. Cincinnati: 5,096.2
14. Orlando: 4,993.7___________________ 14. Austin, TX: 4,993.7
15. Austin, TX: 4,786.5________________ 15. Cleveland: 4,602.4
16. Detroit: 4,748.7___________________ 16. St. Louis: 4,285.4
17. St. Louis: 4,731.5_________________ 17. Indianapolis: 4,086.1
18. Indianapolis: 4,447.7______________ 18. Omaha: 3,962.2
19. Akron: 4,025.9_____________________ 19. Grand Rapids, MI: 3,887.3
20. Grand Rapids, MI: 3,990.6__________ 20. Akron: 3,778.8

So if Columbus was the same size as Cincinnati and Cleveland, it would be the most dense city of the 3. And it’s generally in the top half of the grouping in its most urban areas.

But what about further out, past the urban core?

Density at Mile Marker 10, with an Area of 314.16 Square Miles.

This area size is much larger than the city limits of Columbus, but it gives an idea of the larger area’s density and not just within the city limits.
2000———————————–2010
1. Chicago: 9,344.3______________________ 1. Chicago: 8,795.0
2. San Jose, CA: 4,563.2_________________ 2. San Jose, CA: 4,809.8
3. Minneapolis: 4,183.2__________________ 3. Las Vegas: 4,794.2
4. Detroit: 4,117.4______________________ 4. Portland, OR: 4,230.3
5. Las Vegas: 3,877.3____________________ 5. Minneapolis: 4,178.3
6. Portland: 3,780.8_____________________ 6. San Antonio, TX: 3,454.9
7. Cleveland: 3,308.4____________________ 7. Detroit: 3,354.7
8. Pittsburgh: 3,279.8___________________ 8. Columbus: 3,163.9
9. San Antonio, TX: 3,217.8______________ 9. Pittsburgh: 3,080.4
10. Milwaukee: 3,013.7___________________ 10. Orlando: 3,055.0
11. Columbus: 2,973.3____________________ 11. Sacramento, CA: 3,016.4
12. St. Louis: 2,937.6___________________ 12. Milwaukee: 3,006.2
13. Cincinnati: 2,873.4__________________ 13. Cleveland: 2,923.7
14. Orlando: 2,783.9_____________________ 14. Indianapolis: 2,772.6
15. Sacramento, CA: 2,736.7______________ 15. St. Louis: 2,751.3
16. Indianapolis: 2,652.6________________ 16. Cincinnati: 2,746.8
17. Kansas City: 2,599.0_________________ 17. Kansas City: 2,538.3
18. Providence, RI: 2,360.0______________ 18. Austin, TX: 2,439.6
19. Austin, TX: 2,111.3__________________ 19. Providence, RI: 2,375.1
20. Dayton: 1,920.7______________________ 20. Charlotte, NC: 2,332.7

So what does all this tell us? That while Columbus is not the most dense city of its peer group, or within the Midwest group, it probably does not wholly deserve its low-density, suburban reputation. Most of the measurements are in the top half of the grouping for density, yes, but it is clearly the most weak in the urban core closest to Downtown, as that ranking is the lowest for it. The Mile 0 population, for example, is down near the very bottom, and that is a good reason why densities are not as high as they should/could be. Currently, Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods are seeing a residential development boom, so that will help, but the city needs to think a lot bigger if it wants that stereotype to truly go away. The recent abandonment of the Convention Center mixed-use project is not a good way to go about that goal… and it should be a goal.