In cities around the world, the offices and storefronts of the downtown core fill up with people during the workday to keep the wheels of commerce turning.
Nowhere is this phenomenon as pronounced as in Manhattan, which swells to an incredible four million people during work hours. Today’s animation, created by Justin Fung, is a dramatic, eye-opening look at the “pulse” of America’s largest city.
Also, check out the fancy interactive version of this visualization.
This dramatic shift in population on a daily basis is made possible by Manhattan’s unparalleled carrying capacity, or its ability to facilitate an inflow of millions of people who come for all sorts of reasons. Many of the metropolises with the most dramatic daytime population spikes, such as Washington, D.C. and New York, also have much higher rates of transit ridership than the average city.
Not surprisingly, three surrounding boroughs have the largest daytime population decreases in the entire country.
|Borough||Daytime Population Change|
Outside the Big Apple
While many parts of Manhattan remain lively in the evening, many downtown cores around the country simply empty out.
This stark contrast is particularly noticeable in low-rise communities with large employment hubs such as Redmond, Washington or Palo Alto, California, both of which are home to sprawling tech campuses.
In the case of the nation’s capital, the city is a powerful magnet for talent. As well, Washington’s unique position between state lines means that people have the option of residing in Virginia or Maryland and easily commuting in.
Higher Resting Heartbeat
Thanks to a renewed interest in urban living, many cities are starting to see an uptick in the number of residents who choose to skip the long commute and just live where the action is.
This trend is particularly pronounced in Canadian cities such as Vancouver and Toronto. The latter city’s downtown population is expected to double over the next 25 years, while Vancouver’s sustained real estate boom has added tens of thousands of residents to the downtown area.
In the U.S., Seattle has demonstrated significant urban residential growth. Since 2010, the population of downtown and surrounding neighborhoods has grown by an impressive 18%, and 1-in-5 people moving to the city choose to live in the downtown area.
The 2020 U.S. Census will provide a much better clearer picture of how this trend is playing out.
The 10 Most Populous U.S. Cities, Every Decade Since 1790
How has the list of the most populous U.S. cities changed over time? This infographic shows the top 10 cities of every decade since the year 1790.
The 10 Most Populous U.S. Cities, Every Decade Since 1790
View the high resolution version of today’s infographic by clicking here
There are only two cities that have had the distinction of being named the most populous city in the United States.
The first city to hold the title was Philadelphia, as the City of Brotherly Love was estimated to be the biggest city in the country at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
However, by the time of the first U.S. Census in 1790, New York City had surpassed Philadelphia by a few thousand residents – and the Big Apple has stayed the largest in the country ever since.
From Then to Now
Today’s infographic comes to us from Liberty Cruise, and it ranks the 10 most populous cities in the United States for every decade since 1790.
To start, let’s take a look at what the list looked just after the first U.S. Census in 1790:
|#1||New York City, NY||33,131|
|#6||Northern Liberties Township, PA||9,913|
It’s pretty surreal to think that some of the biggest cities in the late 18th century hosted no more than 6,000 residents.
It also may be a surprise to many that Rhode Island – a state that ranks 50th in size and 44th in population today – held two of the largest towns in the nation at the time: Newport and Providence.
The Modern List
Jump forward over 200 years, and New York City has not lost its top spot.
It helped that NYC was able to absorb Brooklyn – one of the country’s other largest cities – into its boundaries in 1898. Other major cities saw similar merges happen over the years, with Philadelphia absorbing Northern Liberties Township, for example.
Here is a list of the most populous U.S. cities in 2017 (est.):
|Rank||City||Population (Est. 2017)||Population (2010 Census)||Change|
|#1||New York City, NY||8,622,698||8,175,133||+5.47%|
|#2||Los Angeles, CA||3,999,759||3,792,621||+5.46%|
|#7||San Antonio, TX||1,511,946||1,327,407||+13.90%|
|#8||San Diego, CA||1,419,516||1,307,402||+8.58%|
|#10||San Jose, CA||1,035,317||945,942||+9.45%|
In contrast to the NYC of today, the 1790 population looks more like a Long Island suburb.
This rapid urbanization is mainly thanks to Industrial Revolution, which triggered a massive migration to cities, allowing New York to grow 26,000% in total population.
Here’s how the population distribution of New York City’s five boroughs has changed over time:
Interested in learning more about the country’s largest cities?
Investing Megatrend: How Rapid Urbanisation is Shaping the Future
By 2050, there will be 2.5 billion more people living in cities than today. How is rapid urbanisation set to impact investors and the global economy?
How Rapid Urbanisation is Shaping the Future
The world is constantly changing, and many of these shifts have the potential to alter the investment landscape.
While some of these changes can be temporary and fleeting, others can be powerful, transformative “megatrends” that shape how society is organized at a fundamental level.
One such megatrend that has been in place for decades is the rapid rate of population growth in urban areas – and while it’s been highly influential thus far, we’ve likely only seen the beginning of its formative impact on the global economy.
An Intro to Rapid Urbanisation
Today’s infographic comes to us from iShares by BlackRock, and it highlights the case for rapid urbanisation as being one of the most important overarching trends to watch in markets over the long term.
It’s a trend that originated in developed economies in the 21st century, as people transitioned from agricultural work to factory and service jobs.
|Region||Urban share of population (1900)||Urban share of population (2016)|
In these developed economies today, cities are major sources of innovation and wealth creation, and the World Bank estimates that over 80% of global GDP is now generated in cities.
A Global Shift
Over the coming decades, the large-scale role of cities will become even more amplified as rapid urbanisation spills over to the rest of the world.
Billions of people – especially in Asia and Africa – will be seeking opportunities in cities over the coming decades. Between 2018 and 2050, the global urban population will increase from 55% to 68%, adding another 2.5 billion people to cities around the world.
|Rank||Country||Urban population growth (2018-2050)|
|#1||India||416 million people|
|#2||China||255 million people|
|#3||Nigeria||189 million people|
Nearly 90% of this growth will be in Africa and Asia, with India alone adding 416 million new people to its cities – more than any other country in the world over this timeframe.
The Dawn of the Megacity
People are not only flocking to cities, they are flocking to megacities – urban conglomerations with more than 10 million people.
In just 40 years, the total amount of megacities will quadruple, gaining nearly 600 million residents in the process:
|Year||# of Megacities||Population||% of Urban Population|
With billions of new people living in urban areas – and many of them living in megacities – we will have to rethink how our cities are designed and engineered.
And as this happens, the city as we know it will be revolutionised.
The Urban Opportunity
Rapid urbanisation will create both opportunities and challenges for society, and a plethora of investment possibilities in the process.
As global cities become more integrated with technology, new business models will emerge as cities become smarter, denser, and more connected.
These potential opportunities include:
- Smarter cities
Cities will embrace technology to improve services and infrastructure, adding tech-driven features like smart lighting or real-time traffic updates.
- New infrastructure
Cities and companies will invest heavily to build next generation infrastructure, such as data centers, green energy, and citywide WiFi.
- A focus on personal security
With higher crime rates in cities than rural areas, governments will employ elevated levels of surveillance on citizens in cities. Increasing connectivity means that every activity is logged and monitored.
- New services
As cities become more connected, non-traditional players – such as cybersecurity experts or cleantech engineers – will be needed as a part of city planning processes.
- No car ownership
A lack of space and the rise of autonomous cars will mean fewer people will own a car, preferring to use ‘summon-able’ services instead.
- New healthcare systems
As population density grows to unprecedented levels, existing healthcare systems will need to be radically overhauled to deal with this influx.
Rapid urbanisation will have a wide-ranging impact on global economics, demographics, and society as a whole.
As rapid urbanisation and other megatrends collide and feed off each other, there’s no doubt that even more thematic investment opportunities will be created.
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