Tuesday, July 25, 2006

More geography trivia

Try to see if you can guess the right answer on these; if not, then you're welcome to research the questions online. But try posting answers first before looking them up.

1. New York City has been the most populous city in the U.S. since the first official census of 1790. Los Angeles took over the #2 spot that Chicago had held for many decades with the 1990 census. Here are the questions:

1a: What city held the #2 spot last before Chicago?
1b: What year was that?
1c: What's the only other city (besides L.A., Chicago, and the answer to #1a) to hold the #2 spot in the U.S. Census's list of the most populous cities in America?

2. Name the two U.S. states that share a border but have almost no roads directly connecting them. I say "almost" because the only road that crosses these states' shared border is a small country road that barely goes a few miles into one of the two states and then doesn't connect to the rest of that state's network of roads. Note: New York and Rhode Island share a water border, as do Illinois and Michigan, but the answer to this question is not either one of those pairs.


At Tuesday, July 25, 2006 at 2:11:00 PM PDT, Blogger Chris DuPuis said...

For the title of previous-second-largest-city, I would guess either Philadelphia or Boston, at some point early in the 1800s.

For the second, maybe South Dakota and Montana, based on a long road trip on I-90 a long time ago.

At Tuesday, July 25, 2006 at 3:18:00 PM PDT, Blogger Adam Villani said...

Chris - one of your previous-second cities is right, although one should note that in the early 1800s, Chicago was still the frontier, so it was much later that it became the 2nd-largest city.

SD/MT is a pretty good guess. There's nothing remotely close to a major highway connecting the two, but there are a few small rural roads and some small settlements in the area.

At Tuesday, July 25, 2006 at 6:19:00 PM PDT, Blogger Arb said...

For the second, I think it's KY-MO -- they actually have a bit of a land border where the Mississippi has shifted.

For the first, it's Philly; I want to say it was about 1890 that Chicago took over. I remember one interesting thing about the period is that St. Louis was much, much huger than Chicago, even before the first, but Chicago grew tremendously fast in the Burnham years ("make no small plans").

At Tuesday, July 25, 2006 at 7:56:00 PM PDT, Blogger Adam Villani said...

Dingdingdingding! Good job, Ted. The near-roadless neighbors are indeed KY/MO. They share a relatively short section (about 35 miles as the crow flies, much longer as the river meanders) of the Mississippi River that's crossed only by a ferry between Hickman, KY and Dorena, MO. US-60/62 crosses from Kentucky to Missouri, but not without passing through less than a mile of the southern tip of Illinois first. The southern end of the KY/MO border is the famous "Kentucky Bend" exclave.

The one road in question is Wolf Island Road, which heads from Missouri into a little bit of Kentucky that's ended up on the west side of the river due to the Mississippi changing course. I searched and was unable to find any photos or descriptions of the area online, although from satellite photos it looks like it's cropland.

Philadelphia -- yes. 1890-- also yes! Philadelphia held the #2 spot from 1790 to 1820, lost is from 1830-1850, and then had the #2 spot again from 1860 to 1880. Chicago was #2 from 1890 to 1980, and L.A. has held that spot for the last two censuses.

So what was #2 from 1830 to 1850? Not Boston--- it was Baltimore!

Here's my source from the Census Bureau:

There's some neat stuff in there. In 1830, Baltimore beat out Philly for the #2 spot by only 152 people. And in 1840, New Orleans was the 3rd-largest city in the country, trailing Baltimore by a mere 120 persons.

In 1870, St. Louis climbed into the #4 spot, behind only NYC, Philly, and Brooklyn, which was a separate entity from NYC until 1898.

Los Angeles first entered the top 10 in 1920. San Francisco had made it as high as #8, in 1890. In 1790 there were only 24 "urban places" listed in the country; Charleston, SC was ranked at #4. Several Pennsylvania areas like "Northern Liberties" or "Spring Garden" get ranked pretty high in the early 1800s before getting annexed by Philadelphia in 1854. Washington, DC was in the top 20 consistently from 1810 to 1990 (it just dropped out in 2000) but never managed to get any higher than #9, a position it held in 1820 and from 1950-1970.

The 1960 census was the only census in which four cities had populations greater than 2,000,000.

Every city that appeared in the top ten from 1890 to 1980 has, at some point, had a major league baseball team. San Antonio, TX entered the top ten in 1990 and broke that stretch. Before that, 1880 was the last year that MLB-less New Orleans had been in the top 10. Yes, there have been major-league teams in Buffalo, NY.

Here's a listing:


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