Columbus and the Midwest- Historic Population and Density

***Originally posted on September 17, 2013. Updated 9/18/2015***

I’ve compared Columbus to peer cities nationally in terms of density and population, but I’ve never compared Columbus to the Midwest as a whole historically for those categories. For the following, I used the top 15 largest Midwest cities as of 2014.

Red indicates a fallen ranking while blue indicates a rise. Black is no change.

Historic Population Rankings
1840
1. Cincinnati: 46,338
2. St. Louis: 16,469
3. Detroit: 9,102
4. Cleveland: 6,071
5. Columbus: 6,048
6. Chicago: 4,470
7. Indianapolis: 2,695
8. Milwaukee: 1,700
9. Toledo: 1,222
10. Kansas City: Not incorporated.
11. Lincoln: Not incorporated.
12. Minneapolis: Not incorporated.
13. Omaha: Not incorporated.
14. St. Paul: Not incorporated.
15. Wichita: Not incorporated.

1850
1. Cincinnati: 115,435
2. St. Louis: 77,860
3. Chicago: 29,963
4. Detroit: 21,019
5. Milwaukee: 20,061
6. Columbus: 17,882
7. Cleveland: 17,034
8. Indianapolis: 8,091
9. Toledo: 3,829
10. St. Paul: 1,112
11. Kansas City: Not incorporated.
12. Lincoln: Not incorporated.
13. Minneapolis: Not incorporated.
14. Omaha: Not incorporated.
15. Wichita: Not incorporated.

1860
1. Cincinnati: 161,044
2. St. Louis: 160,773
3. Chicago: 112,172
4. Detroit: 45,619
5. Milwaukee: 45,246
6. Cleveland: 43,417
7. Indianapolis: 18,611
8. Columbus: 18,554
9. Toledo: 13,768
10. St. Paul: 10,401
11. Minneapolis: 5,809
12. Kansas City: 4,418
13. Omaha: 1,883
14. Lincoln: Not incorporated.
15. Wichita: Not incorporated.

1870
1. St. Louis: 310,864
2. Chicago: 298,977
3. Cincinnati: 216,239
4. Cleveland: 92,829
5. Detroit: 79,577
6. Milwaukee: 71,440
7. Indianapolis: 48,244
8. Kansas City: 32,260
9. Toledo: 31,584
10. Columbus: 31,274
11. St. Paul: 20,030
12. Omaha: 16,083
13. Minneapolis: 13,066
14. Lincoln: 2,441
15. Wichita: 689

1880
1. Chicago: 503,185
2. St. Louis: 350,518
3. Cincinnati: 255,139
4. Cleveland: 160,146
5. Detroit: 116,340
6. Milwaukee: 115,587
7. Indianapolis: 75,056
8. Kansas City: 55,785
9. Columbus: 51,647
10. Toledo: 50,137
11. Minneapolis: 46,887
12. St. Paul: 41,473
13. Omaha: 30,518
14. Lincoln: 13,003
15. Wichita: 4,911

1890
1. Chicago: 1,099,850
2. St. Louis: 451,770
3. Cincinnati: 296,908
4. Cleveland: 261,353
5. Detroit: 205,877
6. Milwaukee: 204,468
7. Minneapolis: 164,738
8. Omaha: 140,452
9. St. Paul: 133,156
10. Kansas City: 132,716
11. Indianapolis: 105,436
12. Columbus: 88,150
13. Toledo: 81,434
14. Lincoln: 55,164
15. Wichita: 23,853

1900
1. Chicago: 1,698,575
2. St. Louis: 575,238
3. Cleveland: 381,768
4. Cincinnati: 325,902
5. Detroit: 285,704
6. Milwaukee: 285,315
7. Minneapolis: 202,718
8. Indianapolis: 169,164
9. Kansas City: 163,752
10. St. Paul: 163,065
11. Toledo: 131,822
12. Columbus: 125,560
13. Omaha: 102,555
14. Lincoln: 40,169
15. Wichita: 24,671

1910
1. Chicago: 2,185,283
2. St. Louis: 687,029
3. Cleveland: 560,663
4. Detroit: 465,766
5. Milwaukee: 373,857
6. Cincinnati: 363,591
7. Minneapolis: 301,408
8. Kansas City: 248,381
9. Indianapolis: 233,650
10. St. Paul: 214,744
11. Columbus: 181,511
12. Toledo: 168,497
13. Omaha: 124,096
14. Wichita: 52,450
15. Lincoln: 43,973

1920
1. Chicago: 2,701,705
2. Detroit: 993,678
3. Cleveland: 796,841
4. St. Louis: 772,897
5. Milwaukee: 457,147
6. Cincinnati: 401,247
7. Minneapolis: 380,582
8. Kansas City: 324,410
9. Indianapolis: 314,194
10. Toledo: 243,164
11. Columbus: 237,031
12. St. Paul: 234,698
13. Omaha: 191,061
14. Wichita: 72,217
15. Lincoln: 54,948

1930
1. Chicago: 3,376,438
2. Detroit: 1,568,662
3. Cleveland: 900,429
4. St. Louis: 821,960
5. Milwaukee: 578,249
6. Minneapolis: 464,356
7. Cincinnati: 451,160
8. Kansas City: 399,746
9. Indianapolis: 364,161
10. Toledo: 290,718
11. Columbus: 290,564
12. St. Paul: 271,606
13. Omaha: 214,006
14. Wichita: 111,110
15. Lincoln: 75,933

1940
1. Chicago: 3,396,808
2. Detroit: 1,623,452
3. Cleveland: 878,336
4. St. Louis: 816,048
5. Milwaukee: 587,472
6. Minneapolis: 492,370
7. Cincinnati: 455,610
8. Kansas City: 400,178
9. Indianapolis: 386,972
10. Columbus: 306,087
11. St. Paul: 287,736
12. Toledo: 282,349
13. Omaha: 223,844
14. Wichita: 114,966
15. Lincoln: 81,984

1950
1. Chicago: 3,620,962
2. Detroit: 1,849,568
3. Cleveland: 914,808
4. St. Louis: 856,796
5. Milwaukee: 637,392
6. Minneapolis: 521,718
7. Cincinnati: 503,998
8. Kansas City: 456,622
9. Indianapolis: 427,173
10. Columbus: 375,901
11. St. Paul: 311,349
12. Toledo: 303,616
13. Omaha: 251,117
14. Wichita: 168,279
15. Lincoln: 98,884

1960
1. Chicago: 3,550,404
2. Detroit: 1,670,144
3. Cleveland: 876,050
4. St. Louis: 750,026
5. Milwaukee: 741,324
6. Cincinnati: 502,550
7. Minneapolis: 482,872
8. Indianapolis: 476,258
9. Kansas City: 475,539
10. Columbus: 471,316
11. Toledo: 318,003
12. St. Paul: 313,411
13. Omaha: 301,598
14. Wichita: 254,698
15. Lincoln: 128,521

1970
1. Chicago: 3,366,957
2. Detroit: 1,514,063
3. Cleveland: 750,903
4. Indianapolis: 744,624
5. Milwaukee: 717,099
6. St. Louis: 622,236
7. Columbus: 539,677
8. Kansas City: 507,087
9. Cincinnati: 452,525
10. Minneapolis: 434,400
11. Toledo: 383,818
12. Omaha: 346,929
13. St. Paul: 309,980
14. Wichita: 276,554
15. Lincoln: 149,518

1980
1. Chicago: 3,005,072
2. Detroit: 1,203,368
3. Indianapolis: 700,807
4. Milwaukee: 636,212
5. Cleveland: 573,822
6. Columbus: 564,871
7. St. Louis: 452,801
8. Kansas City: 448,159
9. Cincinnati: 385,460
10. Minneapolis: 370,951
11. Toledo: 354,635
12. Omaha: 313,939
13. Wichita: 279,272
14. St. Paul: 270,230
15. Lincoln: 171,932

1990
1. Chicago: 2,783,726
2. Detroit: 1,027,974
3. Indianapolis: 731,327
4. Columbus: 632,910
5. Milwaukee: 628,088
6. Cleveland: 505,616
7. Kansas City: 435,146
8. St. Louis: 396,685
9. Minneapolis: 368,383
10. Cincinnati: 364,040
11. Omaha: 335,795
12. Toledo: 332,943
13. Wichita: 304,011
14. St. Paul: 272,235
15. Lincoln: 191,972

2000
1. Chicago: 2,896,016
2. Detroit: 951,270
3. Indianapolis: 781,926
4. Columbus: 711,470
5. Milwaukee: 596,974
6. Cleveland: 478,403
7. Kansas City: 441,545
8. Omaha: 390,007
9. Minneapolis: 382,618
10. St. Louis: 348,189
11. Wichita: 344,284
12. Cincinnati: 331,285
13. Toledo: 313,619
14. St. Paul: 287,151
15. Lincoln: 225,581

2010
1. Chicago: 2,695,598
2. Indianapolis: 829,445
3. Columbus: 787,033
4. Detroit: 713,777
5. Milwaukee: 594,833
6. Kansas City: 459,787
7. Omaha: 408,958
8. Cleveland: 396,815
9. Minneapolis: 382,578
10. Wichita: 382,368
11. St. Louis: 319,294
12. Cincinnati: 296,945
13. Toledo: 287,208
14. St. Paul: 285,068
15. Lincoln: 258,379

2014
1. Chicago: 2,722,389
2. Indianapolis: 848,788
3. Columbus: 835,957
4. Detroit: 680,250
5. Milwaukee: 599,642
6. Kansas City: 470,800
7. Omaha: 446,559
8. Minneapolis: 407,207
9. Cleveland: 389,521
10. Wichita: 388,413
11. St. Louis: 317,419
12. Cincinnati: 298,165
13. St. Paul: 297,640
14. Toledo: 281,031
15. Lincoln: 272,996

2020 Projection based on recent estimates.
1. Chicago: 2,736,032
2. Columbus: 905,875
3. Indianapolis: 873,774
4. Detroit: 646,682
5. Milwaukee: 606,730
6. Kansas City: 494,731
7. Omaha: 460,487
8. Minneapolis: 445,321
9. Wichita: 395,751
10. Cleveland: 380,149
11. St. Louis: 308,348
12. St. Paul: 306,448
13. Cincinnati: 302,288
14. Lincoln: 297,136
15. Toledo: 270,837

Columbus seems poised to take the #2 spot from Indianapolis around or just after 2020. Also, 11 of 15 would’ve seen growth 2010-2020. Cleveland, Toledo, St. Louis and Detroit would be the only cities that still lost.

2014 Density
1. Chicago: 11,634.1
2. Minneapolis: 6,972.7
3. Milwaukee: 6,188.3
4. St. Paul: 5,296.1
5. St. Louis: 4,809.4
6. Detroit: 4,760.3
7. Cleveland: 4,721.5
8. Omaha: 3,755.8
9. Columbus: 3,747.0
10. Cincinnati: 3,745.8
11. Lincoln: 3,620.6
12. Toledo: 3,246.1
13. Wichita: 2,374.2
14. Indianapolis: 2,306.5
15. Kansas City: 1,475.9

2020 Projected density using recent estimates.
1. Chicago: 11,692.4
2. Minneapolis: 7,625.4
3. Milwaukee: 6,261.4
4. St. Paul: 5,452.8
5. St. Louis: 4,671.9
6. Cleveland: 4,607.9
7. Detroit: 4,525.4
8. Columbus: 4,060.4
9. Lincoln: 3,940.8
10. Omaha: 3,872.9
11. Cincinnati: 3,797.6
12. Toledo: 3,220.4
13. Wichita: 2,419.0
14. Indianapolis: 2,374.4
15. Kansas City: 1,550.9




New Metro and County Population Estimates

The Census issued 2012 estimates for metropolitan areas as well as counties.

First the statewide county maps for numerical change for 2010-2011 and 2011-2012.

Some good and bad with these. The bad is that fewer counties were estimated to be growing from 2011-2012 than were in 2010-2011. The good news it that central core counties improved their growth or slowed their losses, such as Franklin, Cuyahoga and Hamilton. This may mean that population is consolidating around urban cores rather than being spread out… or it may just mean that more counties are losing population.

Top 10 Counties with Greatest Numerical Growth
1. Franklin: +16,273
2. Delaware: +2,444
3. Warren: +1,893
4. Hamilton: +1,350
5. Wood: +1,291
6. Butler: +657
7. Clermont: +619
8. Hancock: +560
9. Stark: +540
10. Geauga: +362

If we take every county estimate, Ohio grew by 10,502, which is a slight improvement from 2011’s 8,447, which itself was faster than 2010’s 7,608. Still very slow, but seemingly getting a bit better each year.

As far as the metropolitan areas, their boundaries were changed last week as new definitions for what constitutes a metro area were introduced. This produced some rather drastic changes to metro areas and their populations.

Old and New Metro Boundaries and their Old and New Populations
Akron: Did not change boundaries and still consists of Summit and Portage counties.
2011: 702,854
2012: 702,262

Canton: Did not change and is still Stark and Carroll counties.
2011: 403,164
2012: 403,455

Cincinnati: Added Union County, Indiana, but dropped Franklin County, Indiana.
2011: 2,122,330
2012: 2,128,603

Cleveland: Did not change and is still Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Geauga and Medina counties.
2011: 2,068,397
2012: 2,063,535

Columbus: Added Perry and Hocking Counties.
2011: 1,925,137
2012: 1,944,002

Dayton: Dropped Preble County.
2011: 801,040
2012: 800,972

Toledo: Dropped Ottawa County.
2011: 609,320
2012: 608,711

Youngstown: Did not change, still Mahoning, Trumbull and Mercer County, PA.
2011: 561,697
2012: 558,206

As you can see, 5 of the 8 are losing population, though most had slower losses in 2012 than they did in 2011. This may also be a sign of population moving toward the urban centers, or again, could just be a blip.

One of the interesting pieces of data about the metro areas is the section on components of population change, meaning where did the growth or loss come from.

Total Metro Births July 1, 2011 to July 1, 2012 and Rank

1. Cincinnati: +27,374
2. Columbus: +25,910
3. Cleveland: +22,484
4. Dayton: +9,414
5. Akron: +7,418
6. Toledo: +7,285
7. Youngstown: +5,446

Total Metro Deaths July 1, 2011 to July 1, 2012 and Rank
1. Cleveland: -20,290
2. Cincinnati: -18,204
3. Columbus: -14,457
4. Dayton: -7,930
5. Youngstown: -6,811
6. Akron: -6,756
7. Toledo: -5,678

Natural Change (Births vs Deaths) July 1,2011 to July 1, 2012 and Rank
1. Columbus: +11,453
2. Cincinnati: +9,170
3. Cleveland: +2,194
4. Toledo: +1,607
5. Dayton: +1,484
6. Akron: +662
7. Youngstown: -1,365

Domestic Migration July 1, 2011 to July 1, 2012 and Rank
1. Columbus: +2,688
2. Akron: -2,248
3. Youngstown: -2,341
4. Dayton: -2,717
5. Toledo: -2,931
6. Cincinnati: -6,036
7. Cleveland: -10,579

Columbus is the only metro seeing positive domestic migration in Ohio.

International Migration July 1, 2011 to July 1, 2012 and Rank
1. Columbus: +4,729
2. Cleveland: +3,555
3. Cincinnati: +3,217
4. Dayton: +1,175
5. Akron: +1,009
6. Youngstown: +778
7. Toledo: +676

Total In-Migration July 1, 2011 to July 1, 2012 and Rank
1. Columbus: +7,417
2. Youngstown: -974
3. Akron: -1,239
4. Dayton: -1,542
5. Toledo: -2,255
6. Cincinnati: -2,819
7. Cleveland: -7,024

Canton is the only other Ohio metro that saw a net postive in-migration for the time period besides Columbus.

Metro Density Comparisons Part 1

Post Update 8/30/2013.

The Columbus Metropolitan Area resides within a group of metros between 1.5 and 2.5 million people. I wanted to take a look at population densities between that group of metros to see how different they really are and where Columbus might fall within them.

Metro Area Population in 2011 and 2012 by Rank
2011 2012
1. Pittsburgh: 2,359,746 — 1. Pittsburgh: 2,360,733
2. Portland, OR: 2,262,605 — 2. Charlotte: 2,296,569
3. San Antonio: 2,194,927 — 3. Portland, OR: 2,289,800
4. Sacramento: 2,176,235 — 4. San Antonio: 2,234,003
5. Orlando: 2,171,360 — 5. Orlando: 2,223,674
6. Cincinnati: 2,138,038 — 6. Sacramento: 2,196,482
7. Cleveland: 2,068,283 — 7. Cincinnati: 2,128,603
8. Kansas City: 2,052,676 — 8. Cleveland: 2,063,535
9. Las Vegas: 1,969,975 — 9. Kansas City: 2,038,724
10. San Jose, CA: 1,865,450 — 10. Las Vegas: 2,000,759
11. Columbus: 1,858,464 — 11. Columbus: 1,944,002
12. Charlotte: 1,795,472 — 12. Indianapolis: 1,928,982
13. Austin: 1,783,519 — 13. San Jose: 1,894,388
14. Indianapolis: 1,778,568 — 14. Austin: 1,834,303
15. Virginia Beach: 1,679,894 — 15. Nashville: 1,726,693
16. Nashville: 1,617,142 — 16. Virginia Beach: 1,699,925
17. Providence, RI: 1,600,224 — 17. Providence: 1,601,374
18. Milwaukee: 1,562,216 — 18. Milwaukee: 1,566,981

As you can see, this is a pretty diverse group, from the Northeast, Midwest, Sun Belt and West Coast.

Metro Area Size in Square Miles in 2011 and 2012 by Rank
20112012
1. Las Vegas: 8,091 — 1. Las Vegas: 8,091
2. Kansas City: 7,951 — 2. San Antonio: 7,387
3. San Antonio: 7,387 — 3. Kansas City: 7,374
4. Sacramento: 6,936 — 4. Sacramento: 6,936
5. Portland, Or: 6,817 — 5. Portland, OR: 6,817
6. Nasvhille: 5,763 — 6. Nashville: 6,379
7. Pittsburgh: 5,706 — 7. Pittsburgh: 5,706
8. Cincinnati: 4,394 — 8. Charlotte: 5,180
9. Austin: 4,280 — 9. Columbus: 4,850
10. Columbus: 3,967 — 10. Cincinnati: 4,394
11. Indianapolis: 3,888 — 11. Indianapolis: 4,341
12. Orlando: 3,491 — 12. Austin: 4,280
13. Virginia Beach: 2,647 — 13, Orlando: 3,491
14. Charlotte: 2,611 — 14. San Jose: 2,695
15. Cleveland: 1,997— 15. Virginia Beach: 2,647
16. Milwaukee: 1,823 — 16. Cleveland: 1,997
17. Providence: 1,636— 17. Milwaukee: 1,823
18. San Jose: 1,304 — 18. Providence: 1,636

Metro Area Population Density Per Square Mile in 2011 and 2012 by Rank
20112012
1. San Jose: 1,430.6 — 1. Cleveland: 1,033.3
2. Cleveland: 1,035.7 — 2. Providence: 978.8
3. Providence: 978.1 — 3. Milwaukee: 859.6
4. Milwaukee: 856.9 — 4. San Jose: 702.9
5. Charlotte: 687.7 — 5. Virginia Beach: 642.2
6. Virginia Beach: 634.6 — 6. Orlando: 637.0
7. Orlando: 622.0 — 7. Cincinnati: 484.4
8. Cincinnati: 486.6 — 8. Indianapolis: 444.4
9. Columbus: 468.5 — 9. Charlotte: 443.4
10. Indianapolis: 457.5 — 10. Austin: 428.6
11. Austin: 416.7 — 11. Pittsburgh: 413.7
12. Pittsburgh: 413.6 — 12. Columbus: 400.8
13. Portland, OR: 331.9 — 13. Portland: 335.9
14. Sacramento: 313.8 — 14. Sacramento: 316.7
15. San Antonio: 297.1 — 15. San Antonio: 302.4
16. Nashville: 280.6 — 16. Kansas City: 276.5
17. Kansas City: 258.2 — 17. Nashville: 270.7
18. Las Vegas: 243.5 — 18. Las Vegas: 247.3

Higher metro population doesn’t necessarily equate to higher density. The smaller metros tend to have higher densities. Columbus is middle of the pack.

Core County Population in 2011 and 2012 by Rank
20112012
1. Clark (Las Vegas): 1,969,975 — 1. Clark (Las Vegas): 2,000,759
2. Santa Clara (San Jose): 1,809,378 — 2. Santa Clara (San Jose): 1,837,504
3. Bexar (San Antonio): 1,756,153 — 3. Bexar (San Antonio) 1,785,704
4. Sacramento (Sacramento): 1,436,105 — 4. Sacramento (Sacramento): 1,450,121
5. Cuyahoga (Cleveland): 1,270,294 — 5. Cuyahoga (Cleveland): 1,265,111
6. Allegheny (Pittsburgh): 1,227,066 — 6. Allegheny (Pittsburgh): 1,229,338
7. Franklin (Columbus): 1,178,799 — 7. Orange (Orlando): 1,202,234
8. Orange (Orlando): 1,169,107 — 8. Franklin: (Columbus): 1,195,338
9. Travis (Austin): 1,063,130 — 9. Travis (Austin): 1,095,584
10. Milwaukee (Milwaukee): 952,532 — 10. Mecklenburg (Charlotte): 969,031
11. Mecklenburg (Charlotte): 944,373 — 11. Milwaukee (Milwaukee): 955,205
12. Marion (Indianapolis): 911,296 — 12. Marion (Indianapolis): 918,977
13. Hamilton (Cincinnati): 800,362 — 13. Hamilton (Cincinnati): 802,038
14. Multnomah (Portland): 748,031 — 14. Multnomah (Portland): 759,256
15. Jackson (Kansas City): 676,360 — 15. Jackson (Kansas City): 677,377
16. Davidson (Nashville): 635,475 — 16. Davidson (Nashville): 648,295
17. Providence (Providence): 626,709 — 17. Providence (Providence): 628,323
18. Virginia Beach (No County): 442,707 — 18. Virginia Beach (No County): 447,021

Core County Area Size in Square Miles in 2011 by Rank

Clark (Las Vegas): 8,091
Santa Clara (San Jose): 1,304
Bexar (San Antonio): 1,257
Travis (Austin): 1,022
Orange (Orlando): 1,004
Sacramento (Sacramento): 995
Allegheny (Pittsburgh): 745
Jackson (Kansas City): 616
Mecklenburg (Charlotte): 546
Franklin (Columbus): 544
Davidson (Nashville): 526
Multnomah (Portland): 466
Cuyahoga (Cleveland): 457
Providence (Providence): 436
Hamilton (Cincinnati): 413
Marion (Indianapolis): 403
Virginia Beach (No County): 248
Milwaukee (Milwaukee): 242

Core County Population Density Per Square Mile in 2011 and 2012 by Rank
20112012
1. Milwaukee (Milwaukee): 3,936.1 — 1. Milwaukee: 3,947.1
2. Cuyahoga (Cleveland): 2,779.6 — 2. Cuyahoga: 2,768.3
3. Marion (Indianapolis): 2,261.3 — 3. Marion: 2,280.3
4. Franklin (Columbus): 2,166.9 — 4. Franklin: 2,197.7
5. Hamilton (Cincinnati): 1,937.9 — 5. Hamilton: 1,942.0
6. Virginia Beach (No County): 1,785.1 — 6. Virginia Beach: 1,802.5
7. Mecklenburg (Charlotte): 1,729.6 — 7. Mecklenburg: 1,774.8
8. Allegheny (Pittsburgh): 1,647.1 — 8. Allegheny: 1,650.1
9. Multnomah (Portland: 1,605.2 — 9. Multnomah: 1,629.3
10. Sacramento (Sacramento): 1,443.3 — 10. Sacramento: 1,457.4
11. Providence (Providence): 1,437.4 — 11. Providence: 1,441.1
12. Bexar (San Antonio): 1,397.1 — 12. Bexar: 1,420.6
13. Santa Clara (San Jose): 1,387.6 — 13. Santa Clara: 1,409.1
14. Davidson (Nashville): 1,208.1 — 14. Davidson: 1,232.5
15. Orange (Orlando): 1,164.4 — 15. Orange: 1,197.4
16. Jackson (Kansas City): 1,098.0 — 16. Jackson: 1,099.6
17. Travis (Austin): 1,040.2 — 17. Travis: 1,072.0
18. Clark (Las Vegas): 243.5 — 18. Clark: 247.3

The core counties of metros within the Midwest are clearly the most dense, with most hovering around or above 2,000 people per square mile. Columbus has the 4th densist core county of the bunch.

City Population in 2011 and 2012 by Rank
20112012
1. San Antonio: 1,359,758— 1. San Antonio: 1,382,951
2. San Jose: 967,487— 2.San Jose: 982,765
3. Indianapolis: 827,609— 3. Austin: 842,592
4. Austin: 820,611— 4. Indianapolis: 836,507
5. Columbus: 797,434— 5. Columbus: 809,798
6. Charlotte: 751,087— 6. Charlotte: 775,202
7. Nashville: 609,644— 7. Nashville: 624,496
8. Milwaukee: 597,867— 8. Portland: 603,106
9. Portland: 593,820— 9. Milwaukee: 598,916
10. Las Vegas: 589,317— 10. Las Vegas: 596,424
11. Sacramento: 472,178— 11. Sacramento: 475,516
12. Kansas City: 463,202— 12. Kansas City: 464,310
13. Virginia Beach: 442,707— 13. Virginia Beach: 447,021
14. Cleveland: 393,806— Cleveland: 390,928
15. Pittsburgh: 307,484— Pittsburgh: 306,211
16. Cincinnati: 296,223— Cincinnati: 296,550
17. Orlando: 243,195— Orlando: 249,562
18. Providence: 178,053— Providence: 178,432


City Area Size in Square Miles in 2011 by Rank

Nashville: 527.9
Virginia Beach: 497.3
San Antonio: 412.1
Indianapolis: 372.0
Kansas City: 319.0
Charlotte: 297.7
Austin: 297.0
Columbus: 217.2
San Jose: 180.0
Portland: 145.1
Las Vegas: 135.8
Orlando: 110.7
Sacramento: 100.1
Milwaukee: 96.8
Cleveland: 82.5
Cincinnati: 79.4
Pittsburgh: 58.3
Providence: 20.5

City Population Density Per Square Mile in 2011 and 2012* by Rank
2011
1. Providence: 8,685.5— 1. Providence: 8,704.0
2. Milwaukee: 6,176.3— 2. Milwaukee: 6,187.1
3. San Jose: 5,374.9— 3. San Jose: 5,459.8
4. Pittsburgh: 5274.2— 4. Pittsburgh: 5,252.3
5. Cleveland: 4,773.4— 5. Sacramento: 4,750.4
6. Sacramento: 4,717.1— 6. Cleveland: 4,738.5
7. Las Vegas: 4,339.6— 7. Las Vegas: 4,391.9
8. Portland: 4,092.5— 8. Portland: 4,156.5
9. Cincinnati: 3,726.1— 9. Cincinnati: 3,734.9
10. Columbus: 3,671.4— 10. Columbus: 3,728.4
11. San Antonio: 3,299.6— 11. San Antonio: 3,355.9
12. Austin: 2,763.0— 12. Austin: 2,837.0
13. Charlotte: 2,523.0— 13. Charlotte: 2,604.0
14. Indianapolis: 2,224.8— 14. Orlando: 2,254.4
15. Orlando: 2,196.9— 15. Indianapolis: 2,248.7
16. Kansas City: 1,452.0— 16. Kansas City: 1,455.5
17. Nashville: 1,154.8— 17. Nashville: 1,183.0
18. Virginia Beach: 890.2— 18. Virginia Beach: 898.9

*2012 numbers assumes city area size did not change.

So for the most part, when it comes to metro density, Columbus runs mostly in the middle, although it does have a rather dense core county.

I’ll examine some tract densities in Part 2, as well as the overall trends for Columbus and w
here it might fall come 2020.

The Recovery of Downtown vs Cleveland and Cincinnati Part #1




Columbus’ downtown has seen many many changes, especially over the last decade. Developments like the Arena District, Columbus Commons, the Scioto Mile and more have brought new life to the area. Dozens of new restaurants have opened the past year or two alone, and a new grocery store will be opening for area residents in February. More developments coming up include the Scioto River restoration project that will create acres of new Downtown park space and pathways, and the redevelopment of the Scioto Peninsula behind COSI should connect the two sides of the river. All of this had led to rising population, now approaching 7,000. More than 1,000 residential units are currently under construction and more is on the way. So the question I was wondering is how has population been changing not only in Columbus’ downtown, but in comparison to Cleveland and Cincinnati. Both of those cities have also seen major projects in their downtown cores and are seeing an uptick in their downtown populations.

First, I examined the 1950 city limits for all three cities. This was the last census year before sprawl really took hold and changed the city dynamics and growth patterns. 1950 is also when most cities in Ohio reached their peak urban population, so I thought it would be interesting to see how those old boundaries had changed over the years. I went to the US census website and began to look up all the census tracts that existed in each city in 1950. Those would represent my base area that I would use to see the changes in the city core. All of the 3-Cs have grown beyond those 1950 boundaries, especially Columbus, but these areas were the hardest hit when the urban decline came the last 50-60 years while the suburbs grew. The results are both sobering and hopeful.

Population by year for the area within the 1950 city limits.

1950 Boundary Population Change 1950-2010
Cincinnati: -225,489
Cleveland: -536,351
Columbus: -141,319

1950 Boundary Population % Change 1950-2010
Cincinnati: -44.7%
Cleveland: -58.6%
Columbus: -37.6%

So what do these numbers show? Well, it’s clear that all 3 cities had urban core population declines the past 60 years just like just about every other city in the nation did. This was mostly a result of the suburban movement.
In Cleveland, the rate of loss had gradually been slowing down since the 1970s, but suddenly skyrocketed again in the 2000s. I’m not sure what exactly caused this. The double recessions made it more difficult for people to move, so if anything, the losses should’ve not accelerated. Cleveland lost over 90,000 people in its urban core from 2000-2010, the highest lost by % and total of any Ohio city.
In Cincinnati, population loss had peaked in the 1970s and the rate of loss fell substantially the following decade. However, the past 2 decades have actually seen a gradual acceleration of losses. The 2000-2010 period saw the second biggest total loss for the urban core.
For Columbus, it’s been the opposite picture. Like the other 2-Cs, losses peaked in the 1970s. Since then, the urban core losses have been in gradual decline. The 2000-2010 period had the smallest rate and total loss of any decade the past 60 years.

So interesting results, but these numbers don’t show any trends of what’s going on inside the 1950 boundaries, especially not the relatively small part that would be the downtowns. So let’s break the numbers down to the tract level.

# of Tracts in 1950*
Cincinnat: 107
Cleveland: 201
Columbus: 48

*The number of tracts changed from 1950 on as some were split or consolidated. This made it more complicated, but luckily the Census gives lists on how tracts changed over time, so one can figure out what tract became what and reasonably keep up with the same boundaries that existed in 1950.

So with this breakdown, we can see more of the trends within the 1950 boundaries. In Cincinnati, a long decline was followed by a recovery in 1990, only to have the next 20 years show an increasing decline. The 2010 census showed the fewest number of tracts growing on record. This is the worst performance of the 3-Cs. Cleveland also had a steep decline followed by a recovery, but it too declined more at the last census, but not nearly to the low point it reached in the 1970s and 1980s.

Meanwhile, Columbus also faced an initial steep decline and barely had any tracts growing during the 1970s. Since then, the trend has been up. The 16 growing tracts in 2010 were the highest since the 1940s. This is the best performance of the 3-Cs, and Columbus had the highest % of growing tracts in its core. Still, those 16 represent less than 1/3rd of the total tracts within the 1950 boundaries. So while there appears to be recovery ongoing in Columbus, especially compared to Cleveland and Cincinnati, it’s not where it needs to be.

So let’s look to the future. All these tracts are trending in certain directions themselves. While they may be losing now, they may be trending toward an eventual gain, and vice versa. If we follow the trends ongoing for the urban core tracts, where might the picture look like in say, 2020?

Tract Trends for Those Tracts Growing in Population in 2010

Trends are listed from what, in my opinion are the most positive to the most negative.

Growing in both 2000 and 2010, but Growth Accelerating Over Time and % of Total Tracts
Cincinnati: 0- 0%
Cleveland: 7- 4.6%
Columbus: 5- 11.3%

Shrinking in 2000 but Growing in 2010 and % of Total Tracts
Cincinnati: 10- 9.5%
Cleveland: 20- 13.1%
Columbus: 10- 18.9%

Growing in both 2000 and 2010, but Growth Slowing Over Time and % of Total Tracts
Cincinnati: 1- 1.0%
Cleveland: 1- 0.7%
Columbus: 1- 1.9%

Shrinking in both 2000 and 2010, but Loss Slowing Over Time and % of Total
Cincinnati: 28- 26.7%
Cleveland: 21- 13.7%
Columbus: 15- 28.3%

These tracts are those most likely to switch to positive growth come 2020. This is arguably one of the more positive trends and may deserve to be bumped a bit higher on the list.

Growing in 2000 but Shrinking in 2010 and % of Total
Cincinnati: 18- 17.1%
Cleveland: 42- 27.5%
Columbus: 5- 9.4%

Shrinking in both 2000 and 2010, but Loss Accelerating and % of Total
Cincinnati: 48- 45.7%
Cleveland: 93- 60.8%
Columbus: 17- 32.1%

These are the worst of the worst tracts, likely representing the most declined parts of the urban core. It’s pretty surprising to see that almost 2/3rds of Cleveland’s tracts are in this condition.

The tract trends paint a very interesting picture about each city’s urban core future. If we expanded these trends to the next census in 2020, this is what you might see.

All this information, however, deals with the entire urban core. What about just the Central Business Districts, or the downtown ares for each city? In Part #2, I will examine those numbers and trends for the very heart of these cities.