Your state of mind might not be in the city

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You know, I always hated telling people I was from Georgia. Don't get me wrong, I love the Peach State, and am proud that I was born and raised there. What drove me crazy was when I told people who weren't from the Deep South that I lived there. Why? Because of the inevitable question:

"Atlanta?"

Like Atlanta is the only place in Georgia.

But you know, people from other places have to deal with the same thing, mainly in those states where a single city jumps to mind, like Hawaii (Honolulu) or North Dakota (Fargo). Can you name another city in Hawaii? If so, you're in the minority. But I digress.

Where am I going with this? I began to ponder the numbers. What are the odds that a Georgian is really from Atlanta? Or that a Hawaiian lives in Honolulu? So, I did what all good researchers do, I dug up the statistics.

The results were a tad surprising. There are only a handful of U.S. cities whose populations make up more than 10 percent of their state's population. (We're talking cities, NOT metropolitan areas.) Here's the list:

 

STATE

POP.

CITY

POP.

PCT.

New York

19,306,183

New York City

8,214,426

42.55%

Alaska

670,053

Anchorage

278,700

41.59%

Hawaii

1,285,498

Honolulu

377,357

29.35%

New Mexico

1,954,599

Albuquerque

504,949

25.83%

Arizona

6,166,318

Phoenix

1,512,986

24.54%

Nebraska

1,768,331

Omaha

419,545

23.73%

Nevada

2,495,529

Las Vegas

552,539

22.14%

Illinois

12,831,970

Chicago

2,833,321

22.08%

South Dakota

781,919

Sioux Falls

142,396

18.21%

Rhode Island

1,067,610

Providence

175,255

16.42%

Oklahoma

3,579,212

Oklahoma City

537,734

15.02%

Oregon

3,700,758

Portland

537,081

14.51%

North Dakota

635,867

Fargo

90,599

14.25%

Nebraska

1,768,331

Lincoln

241,167

13.64%

Idaho

1,466,465

Boise

198,638

13.55%

Kentucky

4,206,074

Louisville

554,496

13.18%

Kansas

2,764,075

Wichita

357,698

12.94%

Indiana

6,313,520

Indianapolis

785,597

12.44%

Colorado

4,753,377

Denver

566,974

11.93%

Pennsylvania

12,440,621

Philadelphia

1,448,394

11.64%

Maryland

5,615,727

Baltimore

631,366

11.24%

Tennessee

6,038,803

Memphis

670,902

11.11%

Wyoming

515,004

Cheyenne

55,362

10.75%

Oklahoma

3,579,212

Tulsa

382,872

10.70%

Montana

944,632

Billings

100,148

10.60%

California

36,457,549

Los Angeles

3,849,378

10.56%

Wisconsin

5,556,506

Milwaukee

573,358

10.32%

 

So there ya go. Atlanta isn't on the list. (But read on.)

Many of the highest entries are from the newest states in the Union "“ Alaska, Hawaii, New Mexico and Arizona. It's also worth noting that Nebraska and Oklahoma have two cities each on the list.

Of course, this doesn't take into consideration metropolitan areas, which was a necessary factor since many urban areas (think NYC or Chicago) span multiple states. But those numbers do made a difference. While only 1 in 10 Californians live in the city of Los Angeles, 1 in 3 live in "metropolitan" L.A. (which includes Long Beach and Santa Ana). When you factor in the suburban influence, Las Vegas leaps to the top of the list. Greater Las Vegas is home to 80 percent of the total population of Nevada.

And, lo and behold, although only 5 percent of Georgians live in Atlanta proper, the numbers change dramatically when you take the whole of metropolitan Atlanta into consideration. By doing that, I found what I had feared all along "“ about 55 percent of Georgia residents live there.

So if someone tells you they're from Georgia, I guess it's fair to follow up by asking about Atlanta. After all, you've got better-than-even odds of being right.

July 17, 2007 - 6:40am
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