[Talk-us] Possible method for identifying major US cities

Nathan Edgars II neroute2 at gmail.com
Wed Oct 20 23:46:59 BST 2010

The US Census Bureau has something called a Statistical Area:
The actual areas are based on county lines (except in New England),
but may have more than one "principal city". For example, the
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area has
principal cities of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Largo, and
the Albany-Lebanon, OR Micropolitan Statistical Area has principal
cities of Albany and Lebanon. This gives us two levels of importance
for these "principal cities" - those that are part of a Metropolitan
Statistical Area and those that are part of a Micropolitan Statistical
Area. (Note that a principal city can be a town or even an
unincorporated census-designated place.) The main disadvantage I can
find is that these are based on population, and may omit historically
important places; for example, St. Augustine is within the
Jacksonville, FL Metropolitan Statistical Area, but is not a principal
city, while the significantly more populous but much newer Palm Coast
(to the south) has its own MSA.

If you're interested in the topic, please take a look at
(lists starting on pages 29, 64, and (for New England) 141) and see if
it roughly matches your idea of what the major cities are in your

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