9/11 Timeline: Three Hours That Changed Everything
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9/11 Timeline: Three Hours That Changed Everything

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9/11 terrorist attack timeline

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9/11 Timeline: Three Hours That Changed Everything

For Americans and people watching around the world, September 11, 2001, is a day that will never be forgotten.

Within three hours, New York’s tallest buildings were reduced to rubble, and the Pentagon—the nerve center of the American armed forces—was burning and partially collapsed. Thousands of civilians had lost their lives and were seriously injured, and the entire country was in collective shock, still trying to make sense of how a coordinated act of terrorism of that magnitude was allowed to take place on American soil.

In the 20 years since 9/11, the events that occurred that morning have been analyzed in-depth from a thousand different angles. Even though the attacks took place in the era just before mobile phones had viable cameras, there are countless images and videos of the event. As well, we now have the 9/11 Commission Report, which compiles interviews from over 1,200 people in 10 countries, and draws upon two and a half million pages of documents to present its findings.

For many people younger than Generation X, 9/11 is a feeling—a grim milestone from their youth—but the details are likely more fuzzy. The timeline visualization above is a high-level record of what happened that morning during the three hours when everything changed.

A Chronology of Terror

In its most simple form, the 9/11 attacks can be described as a coordinated hijacking of four commercial airplanes, which were then used to fly into high profile targets in New York City and Washington, DC. Here is a summary of the planes involved in the incident:

911 hijacked planes

These four flights play a central role in what unfolded that morning. In the early hours of September 11, 2001, a collection of 19 would-be hijackers made their way through security at airports in Boston, Newark, and Washington, DC.

Our three-hour timeline begins just before 8am, as the first plane involved in the attack leaves the tarmac just outside of Boston. (In situations where the exact time isn’t known, a range is given.)


Sept 11, 2001, 7:59am – American Airlines Flight 11, a Boeing 767 carrying 81 passengers and 11 crew members, departs from Logan International Airport in Boston, bound for Los Angeles International Airport.

8:14 – United Airlines Flight 175, a Boeing 767, carrying 56 passengers and 9 crew members, departs from Logan International Airport in Boston, bound for Los Angeles International Airport.

8:14 – Flight 11 is hijacked over central Massachusetts. There are five hijackers on board.

8:20 – American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757 with 58 passengers and 6 crew members, departs from Washington Dulles International Airport, for Los Angeles International Airport.

8:42 – United Airlines Flight 93, a Boeing 757 with 37 passengers and 7 crew members, departs from Newark International Airport, bound for San Francisco International Airport.

8:42–8:46 – Flight 175 is hijacked above northwest New Jersey. There are five hijackers on board.

8:46 – Flight 11 crashes into the north face of the North Tower (1 WTC) of the World Trade Center, between floors 93 and 99. All 92 people on board are killed.

8:50–8:54 – Flight 77 is hijacked above southern Ohio. There are five hijackers on board.

9:03 – Flight 175 crashes into the south face of the South Tower (2 WTC) of the World Trade Center, between floors 77 and 85. All 65 people on board are killed.

9:28 – Flight 93 is hijacked above northern Ohio. There are four hijackers on board.

9:37 – Flight 77 crashes into the western side of The Pentagon. All 64 people on board are killed.

9:45 – United States airspace is shut down; all operating aircraft are ordered to land at the nearest airport.

9:59 – The South Tower of the World Trade Center collapses, 56 minutes after the impact of Flight 175.

10:03 – Flight 93 is crashed by its hijackers in a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Later reports indicate that passengers had learned about the World Trade Center and Pentagon crashes and were resisting the hijackers. All 44 people on board are killed in the crash.

10:28 – The North Tower of the World Trade Center collapses, 1 hour and 42 minutes after the impact of Flight 11. The Marriott Hotel at the base of the two towers is also destroyed.

10:50 – Five stories of the western side of the Pentagon collapse due to the fire.


Two and a half hours after the first plane left Boston, the iconic “Twin Towers” lay in ruins in Lower Manhattan, and brave first responders and military personnel were scrambling to save lives and secure the country.

Life in America was set on a new trajectory.

Information Shockwave

Two decades is a long time in the world of technology and media. Though the communication channels of that era may seem slow by today’s standards, the September 11 terrorist attacks still took place in the age of 24-hour cable news coverage and nascent online reporting.

Add in the fact that New York was (and still is) a linchpin of global media, and it’s easy to see why media coverage of the attack spread so quickly.

911 media information spread timeline

Within two minutes of the first impact on the World Trade Center, a nearby camera crew covering New York’s mayoral primary election was already broadcasting a live feed of the burning building to a TV audience. Within three minutes, news of the attack hit the Associated Press newswire, and moments after that, most major networks cut away from scheduled programming to cover the story.

Less than 10 minutes after the impact, President Bush–who was attending an event at a Florida elementary school–was informed of the crash (which at that point was characterized as an accident).

Because media outlets were able to cover the incident so quickly, millions of people witnessed the second plane striking the South Tower in real-time a mere 17 minutes after the first impact. This was a defining moment as millions of people around the world experience the events precisely as they unfolded.

The still-young internet was strained that day. Moments after the impact of the North Tower, the CNN and MSNBC websites experienced a crushing load of traffic that overwhelmed servers. The FBI’s website also experienced issues after posting the images of the 9/11 hijackers later that day.

Lasting Impact

The Pentagon has been repaired, and a shiny, 94-story World Trade Center now punctuates the skyline of Lower Manhattan, but not all wounds have healed.

For one, many 9/11 survivors are living with lingering health issues believed to be linked to the toxic smoke from the attack and building collapse. Many others are living with the absence of the nearly 3,000 loved-ones who died during the attacks.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is still a lasting legacy of the 9/11 attacks. When DHS began operations in 2003, it was the largest U.S. government reorganization in the 50 years since the Department of Defense was created. In addition to this largely “hidden” layer of security, people now encounter more vigorous security protocol at airports around the world.

As well, the recent withdrawal from Afghanistan was a reminder that long shadow of the attack is still influencing events today, even two decades later.

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Misc

This Giant Map Shows All the Metropolitan Areas in the U.S.

Fitting a complex population center into a tidy statistical box is no easy feat. Thankfully, this U.S. Census Bureau map is up to the challenge.

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Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas of the United St

This Giant Map Shows All the Metropolitan Areas in the U.S.

The United States is the third most populous country in the world, made up of close to 20,000 cities and towns, and 333 million individuals.

Dividing these population clusters into a coherent framework of statistical areas is no small feat, and the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest map shows just how complex of a task it is.

This enormous map—which covers the entire country, including Puerto Rico—includes 392 metropolitan statistical areas and 547 micropolitan statistical areas.

For reference, here are all the current metropolitan statistical areas in the United States, organized by population:

RankMetropolitan statistical areaPopulation (2020)Change since 2010
1New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA MSA20,140,4706.58%
2Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA MSA13,200,9982.90%
3Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI MSA9,618,5021.66%
4Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX MSA7,637,38719.96%
5Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX MSA7,122,24020.30%
6Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV MSA6,385,16213.02%
7Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD MSA6,245,0514.69%
8Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL MSA6,138,33310.31%
9Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, GA MSA6,089,81515.19%
10Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH MSA4,941,6328.55%
11Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, AZ MSA4,845,83215.57%
12San Francisco-Oakland-Berkeley, CA MSA4,749,0089.54%
13Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA MSA4,599,8398.88%
14Detroit–Warren–Dearborn, MI MSA4,392,0412.23%
15Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA MSA4,018,76216.83%
16Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI MSA3,690,26110.26%
17San Diego-Chula Vista-Carlsbad, CA MSA3,298,6346.57%
18Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL MSA3,175,27514.09%
19Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO MSA2,963,82116.53%
20Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD MSA2,844,5104.94%
21St. Louis, MO-IL MSA2,820,2531.17%
22Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL MSA2,673,37625.25%
23Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC MSA2,660,32918.56%
24San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX MSA2,558,14319.40%
25Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA MSA2,512,85912.89%
26Sacramento-Roseville-Folsom, CA MSA2,397,38211.55%
27Pittsburgh, PA MSA2,370,9300.62%
28Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown, TX MSA2,283,37133.04%
29Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV MSA2,265,46116.10%
30Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN MSA2,256,8845.58%
31Kansas City, MO-KS MSA2,192,0359.09%
32Columbus, OH MSA2,138,92612.46%
33Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN MSA2,111,04011.82%
34Cleveland-Elyria, OH MSA2,088,2510.53%
35San Juan-Bayamón-Caguas, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area2,002,906-14.77%
36San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA MSA2,000,4688.90%
37Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN MSA1,989,51920.86%
38Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC MSA1,799,6745.00%
39Providence-Warwick, RI-MA MSA1,676,5794.73%
40Jacksonville, FL MSA1,605,84819.34%
41Milwaukee-Waukesha, WI MSA1,574,7311.21%
42Oklahoma City, OK MSA1,425,69513.78%
43Raleigh-Cary, NC MSA1,413,98225.08%
44Memphis, TN-MS-AR MSA1,337,7791.65%
45Richmond, VA MSA1,314,43410.78%
46Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN MSA1,285,4396.88%
47New Orleans-Metairie, LA MSA1,271,8456.89%
48Salt Lake City, UT MSA1,257,93615.63%
49Hartford-East Hartford-Middletown, CT MSA1,213,5310.09%
50Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY MSA1,166,9022.76%
51Birmingham-Hoover, AL MSA1,115,2895.11%
52Rochester, NY MSA1,090,1350.97%
53Grand Rapids-Kentwood, MI MSA1,087,5929.45%
54Tucson, AZ MSA1,043,4336.44%
55Urban Honolulu, HI MSA1,016,5086.64%
56Tulsa, OK MSA1,015,3318.30%
57Fresno, CA MSA1,008,6548.40%
58Worcester, MA-CT MSA978,5296.71%
59Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA MSA967,60411.82%
60Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT MSA957,4194.43%
61Greenville-Anderson, SC MSA928,19512.63%
62Albuquerque, NM MSA916,5283.32%
63Bakersfield, CA MSA909,2358.29%
64Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY MSA899,2623.28%
65Knoxville, TN MSA879,7737.96%
66McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX MSA870,78112.39%
67Baton Rouge, LA MSA870,5695.41%
68El Paso, TX MSA868,8598.05%
69New Haven-Milford, CT MSA864,8350.27%
70Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ MSA861,8894.96%
71Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA MSA843,8432.49%
72North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL MSA833,71618.72%
73Columbia, SC MSA829,4708.06%
74Dayton-Kettering, OH MSA814,0491.85%
75Charleston-North Charleston, SC MSA799,63620.32%
76Stockton, CA MSA779,23313.71%
77Greensboro-High Point, NC MSA776,5667.29%
78Boise City, ID MSA764,71824.03%
79Cape Coral-Fort Myers, FL MSA760,82222.96%
80Colorado Springs, CO MSA755,10516.96%
81Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR MSA748,0316.90%
82Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL MSA725,04620.42%
83Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA MSA709,46616.98%
84Akron, OH MSA702,219-0.14%
85Springfield, MA MSA699,1620.90%
86Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown, NY MSA697,2214.02%
87Ogden-Clearfield, UT MSA694,86316.36%
88Madison, WI MSA680,79612.45%
89Winston-Salem, NC MSA675,9665.52%
90Provo-Orem, UT MSA671,18527.41%
91Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, FL MSA668,92113.32%
92Syracuse, NY MSA662,057-0.08%
93Durham-Chapel Hill, NC MSA649,90315.18%
94Wichita, KS MSA647,6103.94%
95Toledo, OH MSA646,604-0.74%
96Augusta-Richmond County, GA-SC MSA611,0008.17%
97Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL MSA606,61211.64%
98Jackson, MS MSA591,9780.97%
99Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA MSA591,7127.69%
100Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA MSA585,78413.80%
101Scranton–Wilkes-Barre, PA MSA567,5590.70%
102Chattanooga, TN-GA MSA562,6476.53%
103Lancaster, PA MSA552,9846.46%
104Modesto, CA MSA552,8787.47%
105Portland-South Portland, ME MSA551,7407.32%
106Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR MSA546,72524.22%
107Lansing-East Lansing, MI MSA541,2971.24%
108Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA MSA541,243-4.34%
109Fayetteville, NC MSA520,3788.17%
110Lexington-Fayette, KY MSA516,8119.47%
111Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent, FL MSA509,90513.57%
112Huntsville, AL MSA491,72317.75%
113Reno, NV MSA490,59615.32%
114Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA MSA488,8631.03%
115Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, SC-NC MSA487,72229.46%
116Port St. Lucie, FL MSA487,65714.98%
117Lafayette, LA MSA478,3842.49%
118Springfield, MO MSA475,4328.87%
119Killeen-Temple, TX MSA475,36717.29%
120Visalia, CA MSA473,1177.00%
121Asheville, NC MSA469,01510.39%
122York-Hanover, PA MSA456,4384.94%
123Vallejo, CA MSA453,4919.71%
124Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA MSA448,2295.74%
125Salinas, CA MSA439,0355.78%
126Salem, OR MSA433,35310.91%
127Mobile, AL MSA430,197-0.09%
128Reading, PA MSA428,8494.23%
129Manchester-Nashua, NH MSA422,9375.54%
130Corpus Christi, TX MSA421,9334.17%
131Brownsville-Harlingen, TX MSA421,0173.64%
132Fort Wayne, IN MSA419,6017.97%
133Salisbury, MD-DE MSA418,04611.84%
134Gulfport-Biloxi, MS MSA416,2597.15%
135Flint, MI MSA406,211-4.60%
136Savannah, GA MSA404,79816.45%
137Peoria, IL MSA402,391-3.33%
138Canton-Massillon, OH MSA401,574-0.70%
139Anchorage, AK MSA398,3284.60%
140Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX MSA397,5652.27%
141Shreveport-Bossier City, LA MSA393,406-1.30%
142Trenton-Princeton, NJ MSA387,3405.68%
143Montgomery, AL MSA386,0473.07%
144Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL MSA384,3241.22%
145Tallahassee, FL MSA384,2984.60%
146Eugene-Springfield, OR MSA382,9718.89%
147Ocala, FL MSA375,90813.47%
148Naples-Marco Island, FL MSA375,75216.87%
149Ann Arbor, MI MSA372,2587.97%
150Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, NC MSA365,276-0.06%
151Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY-OH MSA359,862-2.98%
152Fort Collins, CO MSA359,06619.84%
153Lincoln, NE MSA340,21712.60%
154Gainesville, FL MSA339,24711.20%
155Rockford, IL MSA338,798-3.04%
156Boulder, CO MSA330,75812.29%
157Greeley, CO MSA328,98130.12%
158Columbus, GA-AL MSA328,8836.85%
159Green Bay, WI MSA328,2687.19%
160Spartanburg, SC MSA327,99715.37%
161South Bend-Mishawaka, IN-MI MSA324,5011.65%
162Lubbock, TX MSA321,36810.51%
163Clarksville, TN-KY MSA320,53517.01%
164Roanoke, VA MSA315,2512.12%
165Evansville, IN-KY MSA314,0490.80%
166Kingsport-Bristol, TN-VA MSA307,614-0.62%
167Kennewick-Richland, WA MSA303,62219.85%
168Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater, WA MSA294,79316.86%
169Hagerstown-Martinsburg, MD-WV MSA293,8449.18%
170Utica-Rome, NY MSA292,264-2.38%
171Duluth, MN-WI MSA291,6380.34%
172Crestview-Fort Walton Beach-Destin, FL MSA286,97321.67%
173Longview, TX MSA286,1842.21%
174Aguadilla-Isabela, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area286,064-15.72%
175Wilmington, NC MSA285,90512.17%
176San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, CA MSA282,4244.74%
177Merced, CA MSA281,2029.93%
178Waco, TX MSA277,5479.80%
179Sioux Falls, SD MSA276,73021.23%
180Cedar Rapids, IA MSA276,5207.20%
181Bremerton-Silverdale-Port Orchard, WA MSA275,6119.75%
182Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ MSA274,534-0.01%
183Erie, PA MSA270,876-3.45%
184Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA MSA270,8613.23%
185Amarillo, TX MSA268,7616.68%
186Tuscaloosa, AL MSA268,67412.32%
187Norwich-New London, CT MSA268,555-2.01%
188College Station-Bryan, TX MSA268,24817.31%
189Laredo, TX MSA267,1146.72%
190Kalamazoo-Portage, MI MSA261,6704.53%
191Lynchburg, VA MSA261,5933.55%
192Charleston, WV MSA258,859-6.89%
193Yakima, WA MSA256,7285.55%
194Fargo, ND-MN MSA249,84319.67%
195Binghamton, NY MSA247,138-1.82%
196Fort Smith, AR-OK MSA244,310-1.57%
197Appleton, WI MSA243,1477.75%
198Prescott Valley-Prescott, AZ MSA236,20911.93%
199Macon-Bibb County, GA MSA233,8020.65%
200Tyler, TX MSA233,47911.33%
201Topeka, KS MSA233,152-0.31%
202Daphne-Fairhope-Foley, AL MSA231,76727.16%
203Barnstable Town, MA MSA228,9966.07%
204Bellingham, WA MSA226,84712.78%
205Rochester, MN MSA226,3299.40%
206Burlington-South Burlington, VT MSA225,5626.77%
207Lafayette-West Lafayette, IN MSA223,7166.38%
208Medford, OR MSA223,2599.87%
209Champaign-Urbana, IL MSA222,5382.17%
210Lake Charles, LA MSA222,40211.42%
211Charlottesville, VA MSA221,5249.91%
212Las Cruces, NM MSA219,5614.94%
213Hilton Head Island-Bluffton-Beaufort, SC MSA215,90815.45%
214Athens-Clarke County, GA MSA215,41511.88%
215Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ MSA213,2676.53%
216Chico, CA MSA211,632-3.80%
217Ponce, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area211,465-19.48%
218Columbia, MO MSA210,86410.76%
219Springfield, IL MSA208,640-0.73%
220Johnson City, TN MSA207,2854.31%
221Houma-Thibodaux, LA MSA207,137-0.50%
222Monroe, LA MSA207,1041.31%
223Elkhart-Goshen, IN MSA207,0474.80%
224Jacksonville, NC MSA204,57615.08%
225Yuma, AZ MSA203,8814.15%
226Gainesville, GA MSA203,13613.05%
227Florence, SC MSA199,964-2.73%
228St. Cloud, MN MSA199,6715.59%
229Bend, OR MSA198,25325.69%
230Racine, WI MSA197,7271.19%
231Warner Robins, GA MSA191,61414.33%
232Saginaw, MI MSA190,124-5.02%
233Punta Gorda, FL MSA186,84716.80%
234Terre Haute, IN MSA185,031-2.49%
235Billings, MT MSA184,16710.17%
236Redding, CA MSA182,1552.78%
237Dover, DE MSA181,85112.04%
238Kingston, NY MSA181,851-0.35%
239Joplin, MO MSA181,4093.36%
240Yuba City, CA MSA181,2088.58%
241Jackson, TN MSA180,5040.45%
242St. George, UT MSA180,27930.53%
243El Centro, CA MSA179,7022.96%
244Bowling Green, KY MSA179,63913.27%
245Abilene, TX MSA176,5796.85%
246Muskegon, MI MSA175,8242.11%
247Iowa City, IA MSA175,41914.96%
248Midland, TX MSA175,22023.68%
249Panama City, FL MSA175,2163.77%
250Auburn-Opelika, AL MSA174,24124.24%
251Arecibo, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area173,218-13.16%
252Hattiesburg, MS MSA172,2316.05%
253Eau Claire, WI MSA172,0076.74%
254Oshkosh-Neenah, WI MSA171,7302.84%
255Burlington, NC MSA171,41513.42%
256Coeur d'Alene, ID MSA171,36223.73%
257Bloomington, IL MSA170,9540.81%
258Greenville, NC MSA170,2431.25%
259Waterloo-Cedar Falls, IA MSA168,4610.38%
260East Stroudsburg, PA MSA168,327-0.89%
261Pueblo, CO MSA168,1625.72%
262Wausau-Weston, WI MSA166,4282.22%
263Blacksburg-Christiansburg, VA MSA166,3782.10%
264Odessa, TX MSA165,17120.45%
265Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, HI MSA164,7546.41%
266Janesville-Beloit, WI MSA163,6872.09%
267Bloomington, IN MSA161,0390.93%
268Jackson, MI MSA160,3660.07%
269Sebastian-Vero Beach, FL MSA159,78815.76%
270State College, PA MSA158,1722.72%
271Idaho Falls, ID MSA157,42918.13%
272Decatur, AL MSA156,4941.73%
273Madera, CA MSA156,2553.57%
274Chambersburg-Waynesboro, PA MSA155,9324.22%
275Grand Junction, CO MSA155,7036.12%
276Elizabethtown-Fort Knox, KY MSA155,5724.88%
277Santa Fe, NM MSA154,8237.39%
278Monroe, MI MSA154,8091.83%
279Niles, MI MSA154,316-1.59%
280Vineland-Bridgeton, NJ MSA154,152-1.75%
281Homosassa Springs, FL MSA153,8438.93%
282Hanford-Corcoran, CA MSA152,486-0.32%
283Bangor, ME MSA152,199-1.12%
284Alexandria, LA MSA152,192-1.12%
285Dothan, AL MSA151,0073.69%
286Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL MSA150,7912.48%
287Jefferson City, MO MSA150,3090.34%
288Sioux City, IA-NE-SD MSA149,9404.43%
289Albany, GA MSA148,922-3.21%
290Wichita Falls, TX MSA148,128-2.10%
291Valdosta, GA MSA148,1266.12%
292Texarkana, TX-AR MSA147,519-1.13%
293Logan, UT-ID MSA147,34817.46%
294Flagstaff, AZ MSA145,1017.95%
295Rocky Mount, NC MSA143,870-5.59%
296Lebanon, PA MSA143,2577.25%
297Dalton, GA MSA142,8370.43%
298Morristown, TN MSA142,7094.47%
299Winchester, VA-WV MSA142,63211.02%
300Morgantown, WV MSA140,0387.96%
301La Crosse-Onalaska, WI-MN MSA139,6274.46%
302Wheeling, WV-OH MSA139,513-5.70%
303Rapid City, SD MSA139,07410.04%
304Napa, CA MSA138,0191.12%
305Sumter, SC MSA136,700-4.02%
306Springfield, OH MSA136,001-1.69%
307Harrisonburg, VA MSA135,5718.26%
308Sherman-Denison, TX MSA135,54312.13%
309Battle Creek, MI MSA134,310-1.35%
310Jonesboro, AR MSA134,19610.88%
311Manhattan, KS MSA134,0465.48%
312Bismarck, ND MSA133,62620.79%
313Johnstown, PA MSA133,472-7.10%
314Carbondale-Marion, IL MSA133,435-4.11%
315Hammond, LA MSA133,1579.96%
316The Villages, FL MSA129,75238.89%
317Mount Vernon-Anacortes, WA MSA129,52310.80%
318Pittsfield, MA MSA129,026-1.67%
319Albany-Lebanon, OR MSA128,61010.23%
320Glens Falls, NY MSA127,039-1.46%
321Lawton, OK MSA126,652-2.79%
322Cleveland, TN MSA126,1648.96%
323Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ MSA125,447-4.49%
324Staunton, VA MSA125,4335.85%
325Ames, IA MSA125,2528.12%
326Mansfield, OH MSA124,9360.37%
327San Angelo, TX MSA122,8888.78%
328Altoona, PA MSA122,822-3.36%
329New Bern, NC MSA122,168-3.65%
330Wenatchee, WA MSA122,01210.04%
331Farmington, NM MSA121,661-6.45%
332Owensboro, KY MSA121,5595.93%
333St. Joseph, MO-KS MSA121,467-4.60%
334San Germán, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area120,280-12.50%
335Lawrence, KS MSA118,7857.18%
336Sheboygan, WI MSA118,0342.19%
337Missoula, MT MSA117,9227.89%
338Goldsboro, NC MSA117,333-4.31%
339Weirton-Steubenville, WV-OH MSA116,903-6.07%
340Watertown-Fort Drum, NY MSA116,7210.42%
341Anniston-Oxford, AL MSA116,441-1.80%
342Beckley, WV MSA115,079-7.86%
343Twin Falls, ID MSA114,28314.74%
344Williamsport, PA MSA114,188-1.66%
345California-Lexington Park, MD MSA113,7778.20%
346Brunswick, GA MSA113,4951.00%
347Michigan City-La Porte, IN MSA112,4170.85%
348Muncie, IN MSA111,903-4.90%
349Lewiston-Auburn, ME MSA111,1393.19%
350Longview, WA MSA110,7308.12%
351Kankakee, IL MSA107,502-5.24%
352Ithaca, NY MSA105,7404.11%
353Grand Forks, ND-MN MSA104,3625.99%
354Fond du Lac, WI MSA104,1542.48%
355Decatur, IL MSA103,998-6.11%
356Bay City, MI MSA103,856-3.63%
357Gettysburg, PA MSA103,8522.41%
358Mankato, MN MSA103,5667.06%
359Gadsden, AL MSA103,436-0.95%
360Lima, OH MSA102,206-3.88%
361Sebring-Avon Park, FL MSA101,2352.48%
362Cheyenne, WY MSA100,5129.56%
363Hot Springs, AR MSA100,1804.33%
364Dubuque, IA MSA99,2665.99%
365Rome, GA MSA98,5842.35%
366Victoria, TX MSA98,3314.60%
367Cape Girardeau, MO-IL MSA97,5171.29%
368Fairbanks, AK MSA95,655-1.97%
369Ocean City, NJ MSA95,263-2.06%
370Corvallis, OR MSA95,18411.22%
371Cumberland, MD-WV MSA95,044-7.99%
372Pocatello, ID MSA94,8964.68%
373Mayagüez, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area93,412-19.62%
374Parkersburg-Vienna, WV MSA89,490-3.43%
375Grants Pass, OR MSA88,0906.50%
376Pine Bluff, AR MSA87,751-12.47%
377Great Falls, MT MSA84,4143.80%
378Elmira, NY MSA84,148-5.27%
379Yauco, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area84,112-21.63%
380Kokomo, IN MSA83,6581.09%
381Midland, MI MSA83,494-0.16%
382Bloomsburg-Berwick, PA MSA82,863-3.15%
383Columbus, IN MSA82,2087.05%
384Hinesville, GA MSA81,4244.50%
385Casper, WY MSA79,9555.97%
386Grand Island, NE MSA77,0385.93%
387Danville, IL MSA74,188-9.11%
388Guayama, PR Metropolitan Statistical Area72,240-14.22%
389Lewiston, ID-WA MSA64,3755.73%
390Enid, OK MSA62,8463.74%
391Walla Walla, WA MSA62,5846.47%
392Carson City, NV MSA58,6396.09%

From Metro to Micro

The wide variety of population patterns around the country can make it tricky to divide regions up into uniform units. There are two main divisions to consider when viewing this map:

  1. Metropolitan Areas (metro areas) have at least one urban core area of at least 50,000 population. These are the largest population centers, sometimes encompassing many counties. In some instances, these metro areas are further subdivided into Metropolitan Divisions.
  2. Micropolitan Areas are the smallest areas measured on this map (indicated by a lighter shade of green). These smaller regions, which are generally located further away from large cities, have at least one urban core area of at least 10,000 but fewer than 50,000 people.

One thing to note about all of these definitions is that the cities in these regions must have significant ties to a neighboring region—usually in the form of commuting ties. This is what warrants binding adjacent counties into a measurable area.

Another unique layer of data on this map is the shading that indicates the actual urbanized area within metro areas. In the example of Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta, it’s easy to see how urban sprawl has expanded the urban area into a number of neighboring counties.

With this context in mind, we’ll take a closer look at three points of interest on the map that show this concept at work with varying degrees of complexity.

Level One: The Central City

The Texas Triangle offers what is perhaps the most straightforward example of metro areas.

central texas metro areas

As seen above, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio anchor their respective regions, and surrounding counties are bundled into a metro area. The surrounding counties have all been identified as having ties to the central county, and, in some cases, the urban area has spread into the neighboring county over time.

Level Two: The City Cluster

The region anchored by Salt Lake City requires more thought to divide into statistical areas.

salt lake city metro area

While there are a number of population centers in the area, including Salt Lake City, Provo, and Ogden, they all have enough of an economic “magnetic pull” to warrant splitting the region into distinct statistical areas.

Of course, regions are always evolving, and occasionally these areas are updated. Salt Lake City and Ogden were previously combined into a single metro area, but were separated in 2005.

Level Three: The Megaregion

New York City is the ultimate challenge for planners looking to categorize population centers into a neat and tidy statistical box.

For one, the contiguous urban area is massive, stretching from the west side of Long Island out to the east side of New Jersey. In addition to New York City itself, the metro area includes 19 other municipalities with over 100,000 people.

Next, NYC is an unparalleled economic magnet. Measuring commuting activity is a challenge because a wide variety of people visit the city for so many different reasons. The interconnectedness of the Northeast Megaregion also adds to the complexity.

new york city metro area

New York-Newark-Jersey City is such a big pie to carve up, that four of the country’s 11 metro divisions (as indicated by the italicized text and dotted lines) occur in this one area.

Blurring the Lines

Population patterns are constantly changing across the country, so the next version of this map may have a number of changes on it. Our “straightforward” Texas Triangle example may become tougher to divide up as the population boom continues in the region.

Here’s how the population of U.S. countries changed over the past decade:

population change U.S. 2010-2020

Further complicating matters is the rapid move to remote work and distributed teams. A key element of these census divisions are commuting ties. With work increasingly not bound by geographic limitations, it remains unclear how that trend will impact this type of statistical exercise in the future.

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Markets

The Best Selling Vehicles in America, By State

From Fords in the Midwest to Toyotas on the coasts, here are the best selling vehicles in America, visualized by state.

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The Best Selling Cars in America, By State Shareable

The Best Selling Vehicles in America, By State

From Ford trucks in the Midwest to Toyotas on the coasts, the best selling vehicles in America reveal a lot about the country.

Compared to other countries with fewer highways or narrower roads, the U.S. is very much a truck-friendly country. Across the U.S., the most sold vehicle in 2019 was the Ford F-Series of trucks, primarily the F-150.

As the home of the world’s pioneer automotive manufacturers, including Ford and GM, consumers primarily purchase local brands. But that hasn’t stopped Toyota, the largest foreign manufacturer in the world, from also gaining a foothold.

This graphic uses 2020 sales data from automotive information resource Edmunds.com, breaking down the best selling vehicles in each state through new vehicle retail registration.

What Are the Best Selling Vehicles in Each State?

Despite a slowdown in vehicle sales due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a global chip shortage, Americans still bought plenty of trucks last year.

In fact, 48 out of the 50 states had a truck or SUV as the top selling vehicle in 2020—and most states actually had trucks taking all of the top three spots. The only two with a car topping the leaderboard were California and Florida.

Top Selling Vehicle By State (2020)#1#2#3
AlabamaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoToyota Camry
AlaskaRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesChevrolet Silverado
ArizonaRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesChevrolet Silverado
ArkansasRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesChevrolet Silverado
CaliforniaHonda CivicToyota RAV4Toyota Camry
ColoradoFord F-SeriesRam 1500-3500Toyota RAV4
ConnecticutHonda CR-VToyota RAV4Subaru Forester
D.C.Toyota RAV4Honda CR-VSubaru Forester
DelawareFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
FloridaToyota CorollaFord F-SeriesToyota RAV4
GeorgiaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
HawaiiToyota TacomaToyota 4RunnerToyota RAV4
IdahoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
IllinoisFord F-SeriesHonda CR-VChevrolet Silverado
IndianaChevrolet SilveradoFord F-SeriesChevrolet Equinox
IowaChevrolet SilveradoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500
KansasFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
KentuckyChevrolet SilveradoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500
LouisianaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
MaineFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
MarylandToyota RAV4Ford F-SeriesHonda CR-V
MassachusettsToyota RAV4Honda CR-VFord F-Series
MichiganFord F-SeriesChevrolet EquinoxRAM 1500-3500
MinnesotaChevrolet SilveradoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500
MississippiFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
MissouriFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
MontanaFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
NebraskaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
NevadaRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesToyota RAV4
New HampshireFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoToyota RAV4
New JerseyHonda CR-VHonda CivicToyota RAV4
New MexicoFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
New YorkHonda CR-VToyota RAV4Jeep Cherokee
North CarolinaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
North DakotaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
OhioFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
OklahomaFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
OregonToyota RAV4Ford F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500
PennsylvaniaFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Honda CR-V
Puerto RicoToyota RAV4Toyota YarisToyota Corolla
Rhode IslandToyota RAV4Honda CR-VFord F-Series
South CarolinaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
South DakotaFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
TennesseeFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
TexasFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRAM 1500-3500
UtahFord F-SeriesRAM 1500-3500Chevrolet Silverado
VermontFord F-SeriesToyota RAV4RAM 1500-3500
VirginiaFord F-SeriesToyota RAV4Honda CR-V
WashingtonToyota RAV4Ford F-SeriesRam 1500-3500
West VirginiaFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRam 1500-3500
WisconsinFord F-SeriesChevrolet SilveradoRam 1500-3500
WyomingRam 1500-3500Ford F-SeriesChevrolet Silverado

The Ford F-Series was the clear leader in sales, primarily in the Midwest. With a top-selling spot in 60% of U.S. states, the F-Series was the best selling vehicle in America.

Combined with the Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500-3500 series, the big three American truck brands accounted for 73% of the top three selling vehicles across all American states and territories.

Japanese Automakers in the Mix

Though American manufacturers had the best selling cars in most states, they had some overseas competition.

Japanese manufacturers Toyota and Honda had the top-selling vehicle in 11 states (and D.C.). They primarily captured car sales along the coastlines, including in California, Florida, New York and Washington, some of the most populated states in the country.

America's Best Selling Vehicles (2020)Type# Times in Top 3
Ford F-SeriesTruck45
Ram 1500-3500Truck36
Chevrolet SilveradoTruck33
Toyota RAV4SUV18
Honda CR-VSUV10
Chevrolet EquinoxSUV2
Honda CivicCar2
Subaru ForesterSUV2
Toyota CamryCar2
Toyota CorollaCar2
Jeep CherokeeSUV1
Toyota 4RunnerSUV1
Toyota TacomaTruck1
Toyota YarisCar1

Despite many cars being available for sale in the U.S., only seven manufacturers made the top-selling vehicles list in 2020.

  • Ford
  • Ram
  • Chevrolet
  • Toyota
  • Honda
  • Subaru
  • Jeep

With the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic yet to be reflected in the sales, and electric vehicle manufacturers like Tesla on the rise, how will the best selling vehicles in America evolve?

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