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Biggest city in every state

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Stuart Seeger // Flickr

Biggest city in every state

Are you someone who loves experiencing the exciting pace, shining lights, and endless opportunities for entertainment that you can find in a major metropolis? Then set your sights on traveling to the biggest city in every state. New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago are known as the top three most populated cities in the country, but what about the rest of the states—the ones with smaller, but often equally entertaining cities that tend to get overlooked?

Stacker compiled information from the 2017 U.S. Census Population Estimates and the 2016 American Community Survey to determine which city in each state is the largest by population. Every city with a population of 50,000 or more was ranked to get this list, with the exception of Vermont—the state doesn’t have a single city with more than 50,000 people, so state-level population was used. Their corresponding metro areas are also included in the population tally.

Read on to discover some tidbits about how the cities came to be as large as they are, and learn a little about what it’s like to live there.

ALSO: Biggest county in every state

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Eric in SF // Wikicommons

Alabama: Birmingham

Population: 210,710

National rank: #107

Corresponding metro area: Birmingham-Hoover (Population: 1.1 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 2.4%

Second largest city: Montgomery (Population: 199,518)

Though it’s the state’s youngest city—Birmingham was founded in 1871—it’s also the largest, thanks to being built at a confluence of railroads and incredibly rich mineral deposits. Today, residents enjoy a range of cultural and historical offerings, world-class golf, and a humongous statue of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and metalworking.

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Pixabay

Alaska: Anchorage

Population: 294,356

National rank: #67

Corresponding metro area: Anchorage (Population: 400,888)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 3.4%

Note: Only one city in this state has a population of over 50,000.

Anchorage was originally built for the Alaska Railroad’s construction needs in 1914, and population boomed immediately after. More growth came between the '30s and '50s when the military took up residence, and again in 1968 after oil was discovered. Today the city has a casual, easy-going vibe and is integrated with wildlife and nature.

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Alan Stark // Flickr

Arizona: Phoenix

Population: 1.6 million

National rank: #5

Corresponding metro area: Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale (Population: 4.7 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 18.9%

Second largest city: Tucson (Population: 535,677)

Jack Swilling, founder of the Swilling Irrigation Canal Company, first settled Phoenix in 1867—and soon a rapid influx of pioneers followed him. By the time the city incorporated in 1881, it already had about 2,500 residents. Those who live in Phoenix today face a limited public transportation system, but the city is quite driveable and there’s a large emphasis on biking. Locals also love water parks, coffee, golfing, and exploring the nearby desert.

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Photolitherland // Wikicommons

Arkansas: Little Rock

Population: 198,606

National rank: #120

Corresponding metro area: Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway (Population: 738,344)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 2.3%

Second largest city: Fort Smith (Population: 88,037)

The first permanent settlers came to Little Rock in 1820 and land prospectors looking to stake their claim arrived soon after. The town made history on account of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African-American students who tried to integrate the local high school in 1957. Music and art are a big part of the city now, and much of the buildings downtown are on the National Register of Historic Places.

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Maxpixel

California: Los Angeles

Population: 4 million

National rank: #2

Corresponding metro area: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim (Population: 13.4 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 46.4%

Second largest city: San Diego (Population: 1.4 million

Los Angeles faced its first population boom in 1842 with the discovery of gold in Placerita Canyon, and the more commonly known California Gold Rush boosted the city’s population again in 1849. About 45 years later, the discovery of oil brought thousands of more settlers, and in 1911, the first movie production company opened. Since then, the city has blossomed for the acting community, and locals are likely to see celebrities hopping around the shops and restaurants all throughout the metro area.

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R0uge // Wikicommons

Colorado: Denver

Population: 704,621

National rank: #19

Corresponding metro area: Denver-Aurora-Lakewood (Population: 2.9 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 8.2%

Second largest city: Colorado Springs (Population: 464,474)

In 1858, nine years after the California Gold Rush, some prospectors from Georgia found gold in Colorado at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Suddenly, hopeful prospectors from all over the country flooded to Denver to try and find their own fortune. Today, the Mile High City enjoys a booming art scene, excellent nature excursions, and a growing craft beer industry.

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Magicpiano // Wikicommons

Connecticut: Bridgeport

Population: 146,579

National rank: #179

Corresponding metro area: Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (Population: 949,921)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 1.7%

Second largest city: New Haven (Population: 131,014)

Bridgeport was originally founded as a farming and fishing town in 1821. Then the railroad came through, almost immediately shifting the focus to manufacturing of everything from sewing machines to bullets. The city now values its multicultural feel and all the ethnic restaurants that come with it, combined with great beaches and an up-and-coming atmosphere.

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Tim Kiser // Wikicommons

Delaware: Wilmington

Population: 71,106

National rank: #501

Corresponding metro area: Wilmington (Population: 288,156)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 0.8%

Note: Only one city in this state has a population of over 50,000.

Wilmington has been growing and changing since it was first settled in 1638 by the Swedish. The King of England granted the town a borough charter in 1739 and it continued to steadily grow up to and after the American Revolution. Modern Wilmington is a corporate paradise, most attractive to financial and insurance companies.

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Andrew Ativus // Wikicommons

Florida: Jacksonville

Population: 892,062

National rank: #12

Corresponding metro area: Jacksonville (Population: 1.5 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 10.3%

Second largest city: Miami (Population: 463,347)

Florida became a U.S. territory in 1821, and by that time, Jacksonville was already a small, but thriving city. By 1845, when Florida became a state, Jacksonville was the biggest commercial region, exporting many goods to the north. People flock to the city today for its spectacular white sand beaches and a thriving sports scene.

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Georgia National Guard // Flickr

Georgia: Atlanta

Population: 486,290

National rank: #38

Corresponding metro area: Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell (Population: 5.9 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 5.6%

Second largest city: Augusta-Richmond County consolidated government (Population: 197,166)

Atlanta was founded in 1837 as a transportation hub at the end of the Western & Atlantic Railroad, and it remains as such today with one of the busiest airports in the country. The past mingles with the present in modern-day Atlanta, seamlessly integrating historic mansions in neighborhoods like Buckhead with architectural masterpiece skyscrapers downtown.

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Edmund Garman // Flickr

Hawaii: Urban Honolulu

Population: 350,395

National rank: #56

Corresponding metro area: Urban Honolulu (Population: 988,650)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 4.1%

Note: Only one city in this state has a population of over 50,000.

Starting in 1820, Honolulu became the central hub for all the Hawaiian islands, when it became a home base for whalers and the sandalwood trade. It has continued to grow since with a rich military and tourism history. Visitors today generally spend their time at Pearl Harbor or in Waikiki while exploring the rest of the diverse city in between.

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Alden Skeie // Good Free Photos

Idaho: Boise City

Population: 226,570

National rank: #98

Corresponding metro area: Boise City (Population: 709,845)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 2.6%

Second largest city: Meridian (Population: 99,926)

Boise initially saw growth during the Oregon Trail days as a shady forested area with a popular trading post, and then again with a gold rush in 1862. World War II introduced a military base to the city, which sparked continued growth. The city is still growing quickly and boasts little crime, as well as mountain, river, and desert activities, a popular jazz festival, burgeoning craft beer scene, and an increasing job market.

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Quinn the Islander // Pixabay

Illinois: Chicago

Population: 2.7 million

National rank: #3

Corresponding metro area: Chicago-Naperville-Elgin (Population: 9.5 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 31.5%

Second largest city: Aurora (Population: 200,965)

Before the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, Chicago was already a huge, bustling city. After locals rebuilt, scores of people came to experience the 1893 World’s Fair, and immigrants descended on the area to make a new home for themselves. Today Chicago is the third-largest city in the country, with about 70 neighborhoods chock-full of celebrity chef-owned restaurants, one-of-a-kind shops and boutiques, world-class museums, and plenty of well-planned urban green spaces like Millennium Park.

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TPSDave // Wikicommons

Indiana: Indianapolis

Population: 863,002

National rank: #16

Corresponding metro area: Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson (Population: 2.0 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 10%

Second largest city: Fort Wayne (Population: 265,904)

Indianapolis was specifically founded in 1821 to become the new state capital of Indiana, and its population has continued to grow since the first residents moved in. The big draw for many people now is the Indy 500, a world-renowned car racing event, as well as its vibrant downtown arts scene.

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Tystik0013 // Pixabay

Iowa: Des Moines

Population: 217,521

National rank: #100

Corresponding metro area: Des Moines-West Des Moines (Population: 645,911)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 2.5%

Second largest city: Cedar Rapids (Population: 132,228)

In 1843, Fort Des Moines was built on the site of the current city, and settlers immediately began moving in next door. World War I caused growth to slow, but it picked back up again in the '20s and throughout the Great Depression. Today Des Moines is known for being a major insurance center—more than 60 firms are located there—and it has more climate-controlled skywalks than any other U.S. city.

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Good Free Photos

Kansas: Wichita

Population: 390,591

National rank: #50

Corresponding metro area: Wichita (Population: 645,628)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 4.5%

Second largest city: Overland Park (Population: 191,278)

Wichita’s early growth was thanks to the cattle trade and agriculture industry, and it was further pushed along by meatpacking, aircraft manufacturing, and oil companies. The aircraft industry still dominates the city, but it’s joined by McConnell Air Force Base. Here, visitors can find an exceptional collection of ancient Native American arts, and also the National Baseball Congress.

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Chris Watson // WIkicommons

Kentucky: Louisville/Jefferson County metro government

Population: 621,349

National rank: #29

Corresponding metro area: Louisville/Jefferson County (Population: 1.3 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 7.2%

Second largest city: Lexington-Fayette urban county (Population: 321,959)

Louisville has been the largest city in Kentucky since 1830, after the invention of the steamboat brought thriving industrial development. Steamboats still bring in a large influx of money to the city, as well as distilleries, the Churchill Downs horse track, and the Louisville Slugger baseball bat factory.

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Michael Maples // Wikicommons

Louisiana: New Orleans

Population: 393,292

National rank: #49

Corresponding metro area: New Orleans-Metairie (Population: 1.3 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 4.6%

Second largest city: Baton Rouge (Population: 225,374)

New Orleans has its late-1700s Spanish owners to thank for turning it into the bustling port city it is today; there was a population boost again in the early 1800s after the Haitian Revolution. Today locals and visitors alike are drawn to the French Quarter for Mardi Gras, Preservation Hall for fabulous jazz, and the city’s various neighborhoods for excellent food, music, and second-line parades.

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Kenneth Zirkel // Wikicommons

Maine: Portland

Population: 66,882

National rank: #542

Corresponding metro area: Portland-South Portland (Population: 532,083)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 0.8%

Note: Only one city in this state has a population of over 50,000.

Portland immediately began to grow in 1632, when the British established it as a port town. After the Revolutionary War, the population boomed thanks to more growth as a commercial port and shipping center. Locals now love the historical aspect of the city, basking in architectural gems from the 1860s, historic abolitionist sites, and the waterfront.

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Pixabay

Maryland: Baltimore

Population: 611,648

National rank: #30

Corresponding metro area: Baltimore-Columbia-Towson (Population: 2.8 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 7.1%

Second largest city: Frederick (Population: 71,408)

Baltimore’s strategic location on the water at the head of an estuary has been a boon for the city’s growth. It was founded as a tobacco and grain shipping port, soon became a flour-milling powerhouse, and eventually embraced shipbuilding. Baltimore was also the eastern end of the country’s first railroad. The city continues to be a shipping and transportation hub, and now is an education center with high-quality colleges and world-class arts and culture.

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King of Hearts // Wikicommons

Massachusetts: Boston

Population: 685,094

National rank: #21

Corresponding metro area: Boston-Cambridge-Newton (Population: 4.8 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 7.9%

Second largest city: Worcester (Population: 185,677)

Boston has been thriving since it was settled in 1630, seeing the first sailing ship ever built in the U.S., the first public school in America, the first newspaper in the country, and more. Today, locals enjoy a vibrant city with the past still integrated in landmarks like Faneuil Hall, Boston Common, and road layouts closely matching the horse paths of time gone by.

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Arthur Siegel // Wikicommons

Michigan: Detroit

Population: 673,104

National rank: #23

Corresponding metro area: Detroit-Warren-Dearborn (Population: 4.3 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 7.8%

Second largest city: Grand Rapids (Population: 198,829)

Industry always brought residents to Detroit. It started with the beer industry, when Stroh’s opened in 1850, and then the auto industry spurred on by Ford. Detroit is currently in the process of revitalization after the collapse of the auto industry sent the city spiraling into poverty; the arts and literature scenes are booming and people have started to consider Detroit to be a new Greenwich Village.

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Ron Reiring // Flickr

Minnesota: Minneapolis

Population: 422,331

National rank: #46

Corresponding metro area: Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington (Population: 3.6 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 4.9%

Second largest city: St. Paul (Population: 306,621)

The native Sioux and Ojibwe were the first inhabitants of what’s now known as Minneapolis; missionaries came in 1680 and a military fort followed in the early 1800s. The city soon became the epicenter for lumber and flour in the U.S., and population boomed as a result. Current residents are largely of Scandinavian descent, and that heritage shows in themed shops, cafes, and cultural institutions.

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CHMeredith // WIkicommons

Mississippi: Jackson

Population: 166,965

National rank: #156

Corresponding metro area: Jackson (Population: 158,640)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 1.9%

Second largest city: Gulfport (Population: 71,822)

During the Civil War, Jackson—which was built up as the new state capital—was burned to the ground three different times. The population only began to expand again after 1900. Today residents enjoy exciting culture and nightlife, including the country’s 10th largest planetarium and the annual USA International Ballet Competition.

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Charvex // Wikicommons

Missouri: Kansas City

Population: 488,943

National rank: #37

Corresponding metro area: Kansas City (Population: 2.1 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 5.7%

Second largest city: St. Louis (Population: 308,626)

Shortly after the Civil War, Kansas City took on the cattle industry, becoming one of the world’s largest cattle markets by 1870 and pushing the population to more than 60,000 people. Kansas City has since blossomed into a foodie hub for people looking for what’s largely considered some of the best BBQ in the country.

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Sara Goth // Wikicommons

Montana: Billings

Population: 109,642

National rank: #275

Corresponding metro area: Billings (Population: 170,498)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 1.3%

Second largest city: Missoula (Population: 73,340)

Billings was originally built as a railroad town with just two commercial streets. The population expanded greatly during the homesteading years, and by 1900 it had about 10,000 residents. Montana Avenue, one of the original town streets, had a revival in the early 2000s, and now has a booming entertainment and restaurant district.

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Raymond Bucko, SJ // Wikicommons

Nebraska: Omaha

Population: 466,893

National rank: #40

Corresponding metro area: Omaha-Council Bluffs (Population: 933,316)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 5.4%

Second largest city: Lincoln (Population: 284,736)

In the late 1800s, Omaha became known as the “Magic City” because of how fast its population was growing, thanks to a huge influx of industrial work. The city is currently best known for its baseball connections: The College World Series is held at local Rosenblatt Stadium every year.

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Carol M. Highsmith // Wikicommons

Nevada: Las Vegas

Population: 641,676

National rank: #28

Corresponding metro area: Las Vegas (Population: 27,748)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 7.4%

Second largest city: Henderson (Population: 302,539)

Las Vegas was, and still is, the heart of the Wild West—where gambling and illicit activities flourished until organized crime moved in and opened casinos in the 1940s. Vegas still holds its wild reputation and the amount of casinos has grown exponentially, but locals know there’s more to enjoy—the city has a vast and exciting wilderness just outside the city limits.

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John Phelan // Wikicommons

New Hampshire: Manchester

Population: 111,196

National rank: #263

Corresponding metro area: Manchester-Nashua (Population: 409,697)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 1.3%

Second largest city: Nashua (Population: 88,341)

Cotton textile mills brought workers and residents to Manchester in 1805, and the population flourished even through the decline of the textile industry and the rise of other industrial operations in the 1930s. The city today is based in the financial industry, though there are several colleges and art museums, as well as the preserved home of Gen. John Stark from the Battle of Bunker Hill.

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Jamaalcobbs // Wikicommons

New Jersey: Newark

Population: 285,154

National rank: #70

Corresponding metro area: New York-Newark-Jersey City (Population: 20.3 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 3.3%

Second largest city: Jersey City (Population: 270,753)

Unlike other towns at the time that experienced growth because of agriculture or industry, Newark flourished thanks to education—a local private academy that evolved into the University of Delaware. The university is still there, as well as an excellent art scene and local nature parks like Weequahic and Branch Brook Park.

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Laura Clugston // Good Free Photos

New Mexico: Albuquerque

Population: 558,545

National rank: #32

Corresponding metro area: Albuquerque (Population: 910,726)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 6.5%

Second largest city: Las Cruces (Population: 101,712)

Early Spanish settlers founded this city along the Rio Grande River and brought it to life in the 1700s, building a tight-knit colony of homes and businesses. Albuquerque today has a lovingly restored historic center chock-full of tourist shops, and a modern downtown with rooftop dining and a pedal tavern that hits prime local spots. Nearby, residents can hike among ancient petroglyphs and drive a trail of vintage neon signs.

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Sam Valadi // Wikicommons

New York: New York City

Population: 8.6 million

National rank: #1

Corresponding metro area: New York-Newark-Jersey City (Population: 20.3 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 100%

Second largest city: Buffalo (Population: 258,612)

Originally founded as New Amsterdam, New York City was bustling from the beginning thanks to location, industry, and a regularly growing influx of immigrants. Now the “city that never sleeps” is the largest in the country, home to Broadway, Times Square, Wall Street, and densely populated boroughs.

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Riction // Wikicommons

North Carolina: Charlotte

Population: 859,035

National rank: #17

Corresponding metro area: Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia (Population: 2.5 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 10%

Second largest city: Raleigh (Population: 464,758)

Charlotte was already a thriving town by the time of the American Revolution, but it really took off post-Civil War with the introduction of railroads and cotton mills. Its population grew again between the '60s and '80s as it became known as a progressive stronghold throughout integration. Today there’s a large and vibrant downtown with renowned architecture, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and historic Independence Square.

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Ron Reiring // Flickr

North Dakota: Fargo

Population: 122,359

National rank: #225

Corresponding metro area: Fargo (Population: 241,356)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 1.4%

Second largest city: Bismarck (Population: 72,865)

What started as a Wild West town in Fargo quickly grew to a metropolitan area by 1892 thanks to cheap and fertile farmland nearby. The city now has more than 300 restaurants, plenty of local breweries, and a full slate of yearly events and festivals.

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Pixabay

Ohio: Columbus

Population: 879,170

National rank: #14

Corresponding metro area: Columbus (Population: 303,811)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 10.2%

Second largest city: Cleveland (Population: 385,525)

Columbus was another city specifically built to be the state capital, and when it moved there in 1816, the population continued to grow. A large part of present-day life centers around college football, but there are also a lot of culture to enjoy in neighborhoods like Short North and German Village.

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Greater Oklahoma City Chamber // Wikicommons

Oklahoma: Oklahoma City

Population: 643,648

National rank: #27

Corresponding metro area: Oklahoma City (Population: 1.4 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 7.5%

Second largest city: Tulsa (Population: 401,800)

The first burst of settlers in Oklahoma City was the Land Run of 1899, bringing about 50,000 people into what was then considered the Unassigned Lands to claim their piece of property. Its population continues to grow today, and residents enjoy spots like the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark, high-end restaurants, and more.

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Steven Pavlov // Wikicommons

Oregon: Portland

Population: 647,805

National rank: #26

Corresponding metro area: Portland-South Portland (Population: 532,083)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 7.5%

Second largest city: Salem (Population: 169,798)

What started as a settlement at the end of the Oregon Trail burst into life after World War II, when shipbuilding and aircraft construction dominated the city’s industries. Now Portland is a progressive hub, stereotypically home to hipsters and environmental warriors, and has a downtown full of wellness-focused restaurants and shops.

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Pixabay

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia

Population: 1.6 million

National rank: #6

Corresponding metro area: Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington (Population: 6.1 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 18.3%

Second largest city: Pittsburgh (Population: 302,407)

Philadelphia can be considered the birthplace of the United States, where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed, and where residents flocked to be part of the new country and its founding. That history is still present throughout the city, and locals and tourists can visit places like Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell site, Old City, and Independence National Historical Park.

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Will Hart // Wikicommons

Rhode Island: Providence

Population: 81,202

National rank: #418

Corresponding metro area: N/A 

Population of this city compared to New York City: 0.9%

Second largest city: Warwick (Population: 80,871)

Providence is known as one of the oldest cities in the United States, as it was founded in 1636 as part of the 13 colonies. After it was almost destroyed in a 1936 storm, the town rebuilt its infrastructure into what it is today. It's known for having a small town feel while still satisfying those who want a big city vibe. It is also the home of successful colleges and universities, including Brown University.

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Good Free Photos

South Carolina: Charleston

Population: 134,875

National rank: #201

Corresponding metro area: Charleston-Mattoon (Population: 62,887)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 1.6%

Second largest city: Columbia (Population: 133,114)

In 1861, Charleston—already a busy seaport—was home to the first shots fired of the Civil War. After the war, the city was forced to restore old buildings because there wasn’t enough money to build new ones, and the city once again began to prosper as a medical and navy hub. Historic aspects of the city still dominate, like cobblestone streets, old Southern style buildings, and a handful of spooky cemeteries, all juxtaposed with a buzzing nightlife and celebrated culinary scene.

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Seabear70 // Wikicommons

South Dakota: Sioux Falls

Population: 176,888

National rank: #143

Corresponding metro area: Sioux Falls (Population: 259,094)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 2.1%

Second largest city: Rapid (Population: 74,421)

Sioux Falls grew up around its namesake waterfall, just a few blocks from the current downtown. Its population boomed with homesteaders and the introduction of the railroad to the area. Today the city’s residents enjoy a small, but active downtown that’s easily walkable and features a local culinary icon: chislic, which is cubes of deep-fried and salted red meat.

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Good Free Photos

Tennessee: Nashville-Davidson metropolitan government

Population: 667,560

National rank: #24

Corresponding metro area: Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin (Population: 1.9 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 7.7%

Second largest city: Memphis (Population: 652,236)

Nashville was devastated by the Civil War, but business, industry, and education pursuits helped to rebuild the city afterward. Music was first introduced into the economy in 1824, when a local music publishing company released a hymn book and singing textbook called “Western Harmony.” Nashville is now the Music City, home to both famous and aspiring country musicians and musical landmarks like the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium, and Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.

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Elfon // Wikicommons

Texas: Houston

Population: 2.3 million

National rank: #4

Corresponding metro area: Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land (Population: 6.9 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 26.8%

Second largest city: San Antonio (Population: 1.5 million

Houston grew as a shipping port and railroad center since the 1850s, followed by oil and manufacturing. NASA moved nearby in 1961, spurring a population burst that continued through the '70s. Now, the city is defined by skyscrapers and air-conditioned underground walkways; it’s also one of the only cities in the country with a professional symphony orchestra, as well as professional opera, ballet, and theatre companies.

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Pasteur // Wikicommons

Utah: Salt Lake City

Population: 200,544

National rank: #116

Corresponding metro area: Salt Lake City (Population: 1.2 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 2.3%

Second largest city: West Valley (Population: 136,170)

Salt Lake City was founded by Mormon pioneers, and the city grew up around them, drawing railroad workers and miners to the population. The Church of Latter-Day Saints still dominates the modern and cosmopolitan city, but residents enjoy great restaurants and music venues, nearby nature, and the country’s largest selection of craft chocolatiers.

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Maria Michelle // Pixabay

Vermont: Burlington

Population: 42,239

National rank: #770

Corresponding metro area: Burlington (Population: 46,212)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 0.5%

Note: No cities in this state have a population over 50,000.

First founded in 1773, Burlington’s early days were moved forward by the sawmill and shipbuilding industries. In the 1900s, tourism took over. Now the city is known for maple syrup, a nearby museum that reconstructs early American life, and several colleges.

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Protoant // Wikicommons

Virginia: Virginia Beach

Population: 450,435

National rank: #44

Corresponding metro area: Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News (Population: 1.7 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 5.2%

Second largest city: Norfolk (Population: 244,703)

First Landing State Park is the historical epicenter of Virginia Beach—it’s where European settlers first landed before heading up to settle Jamestown. The city continued to grow thanks to new settlers, pirates (like the infamous Blackbeard), and the military. Locals today enjoy an immense boardwalk along the waterfront downtown, numerous resorts, farm-to-table restaurants, and a selection of nearby state parks with biking and hiking trails.

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Bala // Wikicommons

Washington: Seattle

Population: 724,745

National rank: #18

Corresponding metro area: Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue (Population: 3.9 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 8.4%

Second largest city: Spokane (Population: 217,108)

Seattle was first built on lumber, coal, and shipyards, and the population soared when the railroad came in the 1880s. The city is the home of the first Starbucks, giant tech corporations, and tourist draws like Pike Place Market and Puget Sound.

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O Palsson // Wikicommons

West Virginia: Charleston

Population: 47,929

National rank: #769

Corresponding metro area: Charleston-Mattoon (Population: 62,887)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 0.6%

Note: Only one city in this state has a population of over 50,000.

Thanks to a strategic location on the migration route to the Ohio River Valley, Charleston began to grow immediately after it was settled in the late 1700s. Today the city has a range of cultural activities like local art galleries and great music—the Haddad Riverfront Park near the historic downtown has free performances all summer.

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Wisconsin: Milwaukee

Population: 595,351

National rank: #31

Corresponding metro area: Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis (Population: 1.6 million)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 6.9%

Second largest city: Madison (Population: 255,214)

Milwaukee, the city that beer built, has always seen growth because of its involvement in the brewing industry—it’s home to Pabst, Schlitz, Blatz, and Miller. It’s currently going through a population burst as the city revitalizes itself and people in nearby Chicago recognize its cultural benefit and lower cost of living.

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Michel Rathwell // Flickr

Wyoming: Cheyenne

Population: 63,624

National rank: #581

Corresponding metro area: Cheyenne (Population: 98,327)

Population of this city compared to New York City: 0.7%

Second largest city: Casper (Population: 57,814)

The first Union Pacific Railroad townsite was built here in 1867, drawing thousands to a city that quickly became a Wild West hotspot. Today Cheyenne still holds to its rough and tumble past through Western wear shops and a historic downtown, but with modern conveniences including high-end restaurants and boutiques.

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