When it comes to the United States, many people wonder how many cities there are in the country.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: there are over 19,000 cities in the United States.

In this article, we’ll dive into the details of what constitutes a city in the US, how the number of cities has changed over time, and some interesting facts about the largest and smallest cities in America.

What is a City in the United States?

Before discussing the number of cities in America, it’s important to understand what constitutes a city in the United States. A city is a legally defined municipal corporation that has been incorporated under the laws of the state in which it is located. Generally, a city is created when a group of people living in a defined area decide to incorporate and form a government to provide services to its residents.

The legal definition of a city can vary from state to state, but generally, cities have the power to levy taxes, pass laws, and provide services such as police and fire protection, garbage collection, and water and sewer services.

There are different types of cities in America, and they are classified based on their form of government and population size. The two main types of cities are:

  • Mayor-Council Cities: In this form of government, the city is headed by an elected mayor who serves as the city’s chief executive officer. The mayor is responsible for overseeing the city’s day-to-day operations, and the city council, which is also elected, serves as the city’s legislative body.
  • Council-Manager Cities: In this form of government, the city council serves as the city’s legislative body, and an appointed city manager is responsible for overseeing the city’s day-to-day operations.

According to the United States Census Bureau, as of 2021, there are 19,495 incorporated places in the United States, which includes cities, towns, and villages. Of these, 294 are considered to be cities with populations of 100,000 or more, while 19,201 are considered to be smaller cities, towns, and villages.

It’s important to note that while the Census Bureau provides data on the number of cities in America, the legal definition of a city can vary from state to state, and some states may have different classifications for their municipalities. For more information on the legal definition of a city in your state, you can visit your state’s official website or consult with a local government official.

History of Cities in the United States

America is a vast and diverse country with a rich history of urban development. From small colonial-era settlements to modern-day megalopolises, the United States has a fascinating story to tell about its cities. Let’s explore the history of cities in the United States by looking at three distinct periods: colonial-era settlements, industrialization and urbanization, and modern-day trends.

Colonial-Era Settlements

The first cities in America were established by European colonists in the 17th and 18th centuries. These settlements were often located along the eastern seaboard and were primarily centered around trade and agriculture. Boston, founded in 1630, was one of the earliest cities to be established in America and quickly became a hub for commerce and transportation in the region. Other notable colonial-era cities include New York City, Philadelphia, and Charleston.

Industrialization and Urbanization

The 19th century saw a rapid increase in industrialization and urbanization in the United States. As the country became more industrialized, new cities sprang up around manufacturing centers and transportation hubs. Cities like Chicago, Detroit, and Pittsburgh became centers for steel production, while New Orleans and Houston became major ports for the transportation of goods. By the turn of the 20th century, more than 40% of Americans were living in urban areas.

Modern-Day Trends

Today, the United States is home to some of the largest and most populous cities in the world. New York City, with a population of over 8 million people, is the largest city in America and a global center for finance, media, and culture. Los Angeles, Chicago, and Houston are also among the largest cities in the country. Recently, there has been a trend towards urban revitalization, with many cities investing in infrastructure and public spaces to attract new residents and businesses.

City Population Year Established
Boston 694,583 1630
New York City 8,336,817 1624
Philadelphia 1,584,138 1682
Charleston 137,566 1670
Chicago 2,716,450 1833
Detroit 672,662 1701
Pittsburgh 300,286 1758
New Orleans 391,006 1718
Houston 2,296,224 1836

As you can see, the history of cities in the United States is a diverse and complex one. From colonial-era settlements to modern-day metropolises, the country’s urban landscape has undergone significant changes over the centuries.

If you want to learn more about the history of cities in America, there are many great resources available online. The National Park Service has an excellent resource on the history of American cities, while the U.S. Census Bureau provides a wealth of statistical data on urbanization trends in the United States.

Top 5 Largest Cities in America

  • New York City
  • Los Angeles
  • Chicago
  • Houston
  • Phoenix

The United States is home to many cities, each with its own unique character and set of attractions. As of 2021, there are over 19,000 incorporated cities, towns, and villages in the United States. The top five largest cities in America, according to population, are New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Phoenix.

New York City, also known as the Big Apple, is the most populous city in the United States with over 8.3 million people. It is a global center for finance, art, and culture, and is home to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.

Los Angeles, the second largest city in the United States, is located in Southern California and is home to over 3.9 million people. It is known for its Mediterranean climate, vibrant entertainment industry, and diverse communities.

Chicago, located in the Midwest, is the third largest city in the United States with a population of over 2.7 million. It is known for its architecture, world-class museums, and deep-dish pizza.

Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, is located in Texas and has a population of over 2.3 million. It is known for its oil and gas industry, NASA’s Johnson Space Center, and its diverse culinary scene.

Phoenix, the fifth largest city in the United States, is located in Arizona and has a population of over 1.7 million. It is known for its warm weather, desert landscapes, and outdoor recreation opportunities.

City Population
New York City 8.3 million
Los Angeles 3.9 million
Chicago 2.7 million
Houston 2.3 million
Phoenix 1.7 million

These five cities have a significant impact on the United States’ economy, culture, and history. They attract millions of tourists each year and offer diverse opportunities for residents and visitors alike. Whether you’re looking for the bright lights of the big city or the natural beauty of the Southwest, America’s cities have something for everyone.

Top 5 Smallest Cities in America

If you are curious about the smallest cities in America, you might be surprised to find out that some of them have populations of less than five people! Here are the top 5 smallest cities in America:

  • Monowi, Nebraska: This small town has a population of just one person. Elsie Eiler is the sole resident of Monowi, and she is also the town’s mayor, librarian, bartender, and its only business owner.
  • Lost Springs, Wyoming: With a population of just four people, Lost Springs is the second smallest incorporated town in America. The town was named after a natural spring that was used by pioneers traveling westward.
  • Gross, Nebraska: Gross is a tiny village with a population of 2 people. It is located in Boyd County, and it was named after a local farmer named John Gross.
  • Centralia, Pennsylvania: Once a bustling coal mining town, Centralia is now a ghost town with a population of just five people. The town was abandoned in the 1980s due to a coal mine fire that has been burning underground for decades.
  • McIntire, Iowa: With a population of just 120 people, McIntire is one of the smallest incorporated cities in Iowa. It was named after a local judge named John McIntire.

It’s interesting to note that some of these cities have unique histories and stories to tell. For example, Monowi has become somewhat of a tourist attraction due to Elsie Eiler’s status as the only resident and mayor. Visitors can stop by the town’s only business, which is a tavern owned by Eiler herself.

While these cities may not have the bustling energy of larger metropolises, they still have their own charm and character. It goes to show that sometimes, big things really do come in small packages.

Interesting Facts About Cities in America

America is a vast country with diverse geography, culture, and history. Here are some fascinating facts about the cities in America:

Oldest City in America

The oldest city in America is St. Augustine, Florida, founded by the Spanish in 1565. It has a rich history and attracts millions of tourists every year to explore its historic landmarks, museums, and beautiful beaches.

Fastest Growing Cities in America

According to the United States Census Bureau, the fastest-growing city in America is Buckeye, Arizona, with a population growth rate of 8.5% in 2019. Other rapidly growing cities include Frisco, Texas, and Meridian, Idaho.

Cities with the Most Fortune 500 Companies

New York City has the most Fortune 500 companies in America, with 58 headquarters located in the city. Other cities with a high concentration of Fortune 500 companies include Houston, Texas, and Dallas, Texas.

Cities with the Most Museums

Washington D.C. has the highest number of museums per capita in America, with over 70 museums located in the city. Other cities known for their museums include New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Most Walkable Cities in America

Seattle, Washington, is considered the most walkable city in America, with a walk score of 74. Other cities that are pedestrian-friendly include San Francisco, California, and Boston, Massachusetts.


In conclusion, the number of cities in America is vast and diverse, ranging from the largest metropolises to the smallest towns with populations of only a few people. Despite the differences in size and location, each city has its own unique history and culture that contributes to the rich tapestry of American life. Whether you’re planning to visit or live in one of these cities, it’s fascinating to learn about what makes them special and how they fit into the larger fabric of American society.

Similar Posts