This Is America’s Largest State Capital


Sometimes, a state’s capital is also its largest city. Boston and Indianapolis are good examples. Yet, such cases are rare. More often, state capitals are not the largest in the state by population. Often, they are obscure cities for people who live outside these states. How many people know that Lansing is the capital of Michigan? Shouldn’t the decision have been to locate the capital in Detroit?

In the book “American Capitals: A Historical Geography,” author Christian Montès points out that capitals were often picked by state legislatures, but some were chosen by governors or popular votes.

Another notable fact about state capitals is how few are named after people. There are a small number of exceptions, like Washington, D.C., and Lincoln, Nebraska.

24/7 Wall St. looked at all 50 state capitals based on population. Only one is among America’s top 10 cities by total population. Phoenix, the capital of Arizona, has a population of 1.7 million. It is the only state capital in the United States with more than a million residents. Phoenix became a city in 1881, before Arizona became a state in 1912.

Some state capitals are usually small. Montpelier, Vermont, has a population of less than 8,000. Pierre, South Dakota, has fewer than 14,000 people, and the population of Augusta, Maine, is less than 20,000.

These are the 20 largest state capitals based on population in 2020:

  • Phoenix, Ariz. (1,703,080)
  • Austin, Texas (988,218)
  • Columbus, Ohio (922,223
  • Indianapolis, Ind. (875,929)
  • Denver, Colo. (734,134)
  • Boston, Mass. (710,195)
  • Nashville, Tenn. (673,167)
  • Oklahoma City, Ok. (655,407)
  • Atlanta, Ga. (523,738)
  • Sacramento, Calif. (521,769)
  • Raleigh, N.C. (481,958)
  • Honolulu, Hawaii (342,933)
  • Saint Paul, Minn. (307,695)
  • Lincoln, Neb. (293,905)
  • Madison, Wis. (264,030)
  • Boise, Idaho (234,576)
  • Richmond, Va. (232,055)
  • Des Moines, Iowa (217,891)
  • Baton Rouge, La. (216,701)
  • Salt Lake City, Utah (213,367)

Click here to see which U.S. cities are the most miserable, according to their residents.

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