Capital City vs Largest City

While researching questions for my state capital trivia, I came across an interesting fact. According to the 2020 Census, Olympia, the capital city of the state of Washington, is the 24th largest city in the state. Washington's largest city, Seattle, has 14 times the population of Olympia. My parents' hometown of Auburn, the 15th largest city in Washington, is more than half again as big as the state's capital city. While I know that the capital city is not always the largest city in the state, it's rare for it to be so far down the list. In fact, at #24, Olympia sits lower on its state's list of cities than any of the other 49 states. 

My own home state of California also has a capital city that is not the largest in the state. Sacramento is the 6th largest in the state, behind Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, and Fresno. (We live in Fairfield, the 53rd largest city in California. I grew up in #85, Livermore, went to college in #128, Davis, and taught in #51, Vallejo.)

While a normal person might find these statistics interesting and move on with their lives, I'm not normal. I love stuff like this. I discovered that there are only 17 states whose capital cities are the most populated in the state. These include: Arizona (Phoenix), Arkansas (Little Rock), Colorado (Denver), Georgia (Atlanta), Hawaii (Honolulu), Idaho (Boise), Indiana (Indianapolis), Iowa (Des Moines), Massachusetts (Boston), Mississippi (Jackson), Ohio (Columbus), Oklahoma (Oklahoma City), Rhode Island (Providence), Tennessee (Nashville), Utah (Salt Lake City), West Virginia (Charleston), and Wyoming (Cheyenne). 

That means, of course, that there are 33 states whose capital city is not the largest city in the state. I made that graphic too, even though it's just the inverse of the one above. I like making graphics. I made both of the maps using Visited State Map and then added the titles and watermarks with PicMonkey

During our many capitol tours, we've learned a lot about why certain states located their capital cities where they did and not in what seems like the obvious choice in 2022. Maybe that's a future blog post. In the meantime, you can read more about our travels to capital cities and other places throughout the United States on my US Travel hub

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