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Your state's largest cities through history


krazeeboi

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Which cities in your state have at one point or another held the title of the state's largest city? For South Carolina, only two cities could make that claim: Charleston (from our state's founding to sometime in the mid-20th century) and Columbia (from mid-20th century onward).

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This is a hard one! Cities are apparently reticent to say "yeah, we were the largest, but then we stopped growing and now we're number 27..."

I compared historical figures for Memphis & Nashville:

Memphis -- Nashville

1830: 663 -- 5,566

1840: 1,799 -- 7,868

1850: 8,841 -- 10,165

1860: 22,623 -- 18,015

1870: 40,226 -- 25,865

1880: 33,592 -- 51,017

1890: 64,495 -- 76,168

1900: 102,320 -- 80,865

1910: 131,105 -- 110,364

1920: 162,351 -- 118,342

1930: 253,140 -- 153,866

1940: 292,942 -- 167,402

1950: 396,000 -- 174,307

1960: 497,524 -- 170,874

1970: 623,520 -- 448,003

1980: 646,356 -- 455,651

1990: 610,337 -- 488,374

2000: 650,100 -- 569,891

2005: 680,768 -- 575,261

So it looks like Nashville was the largest 1830 - 1850. Memphis became largest 1860 - 1870, then back to Nashville 1880-1890. Since 1900 Memphis has been the largest city in Tennessee, although note Nashville's consolidation in the 1960's.

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I looked at the historical records, and this is what shows in NC from 1820-present.

1820-New Bern town, NC.................. 3,663

1830-New Bern town, NC.................. 3,796

1840-Wilmington town, NC................ 5,335

1850-Wilmington town, NC................ 7,264

1860-Wilmington town, NC................ 9,552

1870-Wilmington town, NC................ 13,446

1880-Wilmington town, NC................ 17,350

1890-Wilmington town, NC................ 20,056

1900-Wilmington town, NC................ 20,976

1910-Charlotte city, NC.................... 34,014

1920-Winston-Salem city, NC............ 48,395

1930-Charlotte city, NC.................... 82,675

1940-Charlotte city, NC.................... 112,986

1950-Charlotte city, NC.................... 134,042

1960-Charlotte city, NC.................... 200,882

1970-Charlotte city, NC.................... 241,178

1980-Charlotte city, NC.................... 314,447

1990-Charlotte city, NC.................... 395,934

2000-Charlotte city, NC.................... 540,828

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Little Rock has always been the largest in the state of Arkansas.

Pine Bluff used to be second, but Ft. Smith passed it up a while ago. Pine Bluff is now about 6th in the state.

1. Little Rock (185,000ish)

2. Ft. Smith (81,000)

3. Fayetteville (70,000ish)

4. Springdale (65,000)

5. North Little Rock (61,000)

6. Pine Bluff (55,085)

7. Jonesboro (56,000ish)

8. Conway (51,000-55,000ish)

9. Rogers (50,000)

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I looked at the historical records, and this is what shows in NC from 1820-present.

1820-New Bern town, NC.................. 3,663

1830-New Bern town, NC.................. 3,796

1840-Wilmington town, NC................ 5,335

1850-Wilmington town, NC................ 7,264

1860-Wilmington town, NC................ 9,552

1870-Wilmington town, NC................ 13,446

1880-Wilmington town, NC................ 17,350

1890-Wilmington town, NC................ 20,056

1900-Wilmington town, NC................ 20,976

1910-Charlotte city, NC.................... 34,014

1920-Winston-Salem city, NC............ 48,395

1930-Charlotte city, NC.................... 82,675

1940-Charlotte city, NC.................... 112,986

1950-Charlotte city, NC.................... 134,042

1960-Charlotte city, NC.................... 200,882

1970-Charlotte city, NC.................... 241,178

1980-Charlotte city, NC.................... 314,447

1990-Charlotte city, NC.................... 395,934

2000-Charlotte city, NC.................... 540,828

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What I find amazing about this is the difference in Charlotte population in just 50 years. Look at 1950 and look at 2000....more than double. I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and in the 50's (though that was before my time) Birmingham was somewhere around 350,000, the city now is lucky to count 225,000 or 230,000.....don't have the exact figures, yet it's metro has exploded and doing very well.
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What I find amazing about this is the difference in Charlotte population in just 50 years. Look at 1950 and look at 2000....more than double. I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and in the 50's (though that was before my time) Birmingham was somewhere around 350,000, the city now is lucky to count 225,000 or 230,000.....don't have the exact figures, yet it's metro has exploded and doing very well.
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Galveston was the largest city in Texas until 1900 when a hurricane largely destroyed it. After that Houston replaced it in prominence and is the largest city today, followed by Dallas and San Antonio as distant 2nd and 3rd.

In Arkansas, Little Rock has been the largest city since the 1830s.

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More research into Virginia yilded this breakdown:

1790 - Richmond - 3,761

1800 - Norfolk - 6,926

1810 - Richmond - 9,735

1850 - Richmond - 27,570

1900 - Richmond - 85,050

1950 - Richmond - 230,310

1960 - Norfolk - 305,872

1970 - Norfolk - 307,951

1980 - Norfolk - 266,979

1990 - Virginia Beach - 393,069

2000 - Virginia Beach - 425,257

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Galveston was the largest city in Texas until 1900 when a hurricane largely destroyed it. After that Houston replaced it in prominence and is the largest city today, followed by Dallas and San Antonio as distant 2nd and 3rd.

In Arkansas, Little Rock has been the largest city since the 1830s.

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