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August 8th, 2009:

The Biggest American Place You’ve Never Been

I’m still too groggy to tackle anything cerebral in this space (and it’s uncouth to let your nose drip down into your expensive buckling-spring keyboard) but this self-directed question came up while I was pondering the life I had documented versus the life I remembered: What was the largest American city I had never set foot in?

My guess going in was Minneapolis/St. Paul, but I was wrong, and wrong by a lot. Working from this list of the largest American cities by population, I discovered that the most populous American city I had never visited was…Jacksonville, Florida.


Jacksonville is not only larger than either Minneapolis or St. Paul, it’s larger than both of them put together, by almost 150,000 people. I didn’t know that. Nor did I think that Indianapolis was as big as it is (800,000) nor Pittsburgh as small (310,000).

My top three were Jacksonville, Memphis, and El Paso, assuming you don’t treat Minneapolis and St. Paul as a unit. (In practical terms, most people do.) If you do consider them as a unit, the Twin Cities come in third, narrowly ahead of El Paso. Of the top 100 cities listed, I had visited 66. I guess I’m not as much of a hermit as I thought I was, though I’ll admit it took me 57 years to get there.

It’s an interesting exercise, and if any of you are inclined to do the test yourself, I’d be interested in seeing your results in the comments. Now I need to pop another decongestant and lie down again, so that I can get back to real work (of which there is much) tomorrow.