Most Populous Second Cities in the U.S.

Guess the most populous cities that are the second most populous city in their state.
City proper, not metro area! 2019 census estimates.
For the biggest city in every state, try this quiz
Quiz by MattPunk
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Last updated: June 1, 2020
First submittedJune 25, 2013
Times taken23,932
Rating4.20
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Keep scrolling down for answers and more stats ...
Population
City
1,547,253
San Antonio
1,423,851
San Diego
651,073
Memphis
548,073
Tucson
478,221
Colorado Springs
474,069
Raleigh
467,963
Miami
401,190
Tulsa
Population
City
381,009
Cleveland
323,152
Lexington
320,189
Henderson
308,096
Saint Paul
300,576
Saint Louis
300,286
Pittsburgh
289,102
Lincoln
270,402
Fort Wayne
Population
City
262,075
Jersey City
259,680
Madison
255,284
Buffalo
244,835
Chesapeake
222,081
Spokane
220,236
Baton Rouge
201,013
Grand Rapids
200,574
Huntsville
+6
Level 71
Jul 31, 2013
It's still difficult to know which "2nd biggest cities in their state" are still on the "most populous cities" list. Spokane, WA, is over 200,000, but just shy of making this list. Plus, the city proper skews things a bit. I mean, Miami has a metro population over 5M, but not even a tenth that in the city proper. Fun quiz, though.
+3
Level ∞
Jun 12, 2016
Baton Rouge and Spokane are numbers #21 and #22.
+2
Level 63
Sep 20, 2018
The same goes for St. Louis, where the city proper area is just over 300,000, and the metro area population is 2.8 million.
+4
Level 80
Jul 31, 2013
Fine quiz. I got Norfolk, but probably because I'm originally from Virginia.
+1
Level 72
Jun 30, 2018
I live in Virginia now (in your hometown, kalbahamut!), but I still didn't get it. :-(
+1
Level 80
Sep 20, 2018
yep, I know. Found your Facebook. Though the house in Centreville is abandoned and under renovation now.
+1
Level 80
Aug 6, 2020
and now sold
+3
Level 83
Aug 4, 2020
I'm also from Virginia, but Norfolk doesn't seem to be here anymore. Got Chesapeake eventually, though.
+3
Level 55
Aug 4, 2020
I'm from Virginia too and couldn't get Chesapeake. The Newport News area has so many different municipalities I started to lose track. I honestly would've assumed the second-largest city would be Richmond, not another NN city.
+1
Level 80
Aug 4, 2020
I guess Norfolk was usurped by Chesapeake... I missed it this time.
+1
Level 82
Aug 4, 2020
Yeah, I tried Norfolk and Richmond and then gave up on Virginia. Didn't realize Chesapeake had grown so much.
+1
Level 74
Aug 13, 2020
Doesn't seem to be on the list anymore. Population decline? Other cities with a bigger growth? Or it's simply not the 2nd in Virginia anymore?
+1
Level 33
Jul 31, 2013
Impossible to guess at random without a state to match it with ... boo.
+8
Level 83
Jul 24, 2014
Not impossible. You have to think of states with at least two larger cities, and then guess the second largest one.
+3
Level 37
Aug 26, 2013
Miami is definitely the biggest city in Florida population-wise.
+4
Level 52
Aug 29, 2013
By metro population, I believe you are right, but the quiz was using city populations only.
+7
Level 80
Sep 6, 2016
Jacksonville is literally twice the size of Miami.
+1
Level 81
Jun 1, 2020
Jacksonville is literally 21 times the land size of Miami and only the 4th largest urban area. Property tax greed makes for a lot of separate municipal boundaries in the U.S.
+3
Level 79
Jun 22, 2018
Remember, about 50 years ago, Jacksonville "consolidated" with Duval County - the county that once contained it. It's huge, both by population and land area.
+1
Level 55
Aug 4, 2020
But it's not though.
+1
Level 75
Aug 3, 2015
Very surprised to not see Aurora, Montgomery and Spokane here, they must not miss by a wide margin...
+1
Level 65
Apr 3, 2017
I took a shot by guessing Aurora, but it bombed
+1
Level 70
Sep 27, 2015
Aurora isn't the second largest city in Colorado. Colorado Springs is.
+10
Level 54
Sep 6, 2016
But Aurora is the second largest in Illinois.
+5
Level 70
Jun 7, 2020
Oh God. I get a fresh rush of embarrassment each time I see a comment from 10 year old me.
+3
Level 83
Aug 4, 2020
Would you say you "cringe?"
+1
Level 70
Aug 4, 2020
I guess so. Nice one.
+1
Level 66
Aug 6, 2020
So does that mean you are 15 now? You're not really wrong though – Aurora, CO is about twice the population of Aurora, IL.
+4
Level 69
Sep 6, 2016
I honestly have nothing against Pennsylvania, yet this is like the third USA quiz in a row where I've completely forgotten PA exists. What is going on.
+1
Level 79
Sep 6, 2016
Was surprised not to see Grand Rapids on here, but apparently it's "city proper" population is a number of steps below the cut-off.
+1
Level 47
Apr 20, 2017
Me too, especially being from Michigan
+1
Level 52
Sep 6, 2016
Excellent quiz, really had to rack my brain for this one.
+4
Level 68
Sep 6, 2016
Incredibly tough for us non US natives.
+10
Level 72
Sep 6, 2016
I've said it before and I'll say it again, I hate using city proper. It's so arbitrary and artificial. Any listing that ranks San Antonio above Dallas is clearing devoid of any real world meaning (nothing against San Antonio, but it is obviously a smaller city than Dallas).
+1
Level 78
Aug 5, 2020
San Antonio is a very large city. According to the census data I found the top three Texas cities by city proper, in order are Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas. Going by metro area, they are Dallas-Arlington-Ft. Worth, Houston-Galveston, and San Antonio. San Antonio is dear to my heart because attending a wedding there of a college friend is what prompted my now-husband to propose to me. There was magic in the air of that beautiful city on that special day in the 1970s.
+3
Level 69
Apr 26, 2017
I'm ashamed I missed my home town Fort Wayne, IN
+1
Level 62
Dec 24, 2017
good quiz!
+1
Level 62
Jan 31, 2018
I think this quiz is need for an update. I saw you are using the 2015 estimates, the 2016 estimates would change Memphis to the second biggest instead of Nashville.
+1
Level ∞
Jan 31, 2018
I made a note to update after the next census estimates are released. Should be June or July.
+1
Level 77
Jun 22, 2018
Out of curiosity why is Cleeland accepted as a variation of Cleveland? I mistyped and was surprised that it was accepted.
+3
Level 82
Jun 22, 2018
Norfolk in chance of me getting 100% 1st time
+3
Level 74
Jun 23, 2018
So hard to pick which cities cover their urban area and which have boundaries of a tiny inner core (it's a compete guess, actually). For example, San Francisco is obviously second to Los Angeles, but there's been a small boundary drawn for one of those two that leave San Diego as an answer here.
+1
Level 68
Jun 24, 2018
Actually, San Jose would come after San Diego, since it has a population of over 1 million, while San Francisco hovers at just under 900,000. Given its location, it cannot grow much and is unlikely to incorporate other cities from the peninsula, so it can really only grow upward.
+2
Level 61
Sep 20, 2018
How is it possible that I have never heard of a city like Henderson before?
+8
Level 82
Sep 20, 2018
It's a mega suburb of Vegas on the east side of the metro. Since probably close to 95% of the tourists of Vegas never leave the strip and downtown people are generally ignorant of it. Additionally since the vast majority of people arriving by car come from California they never see it either. It was/is just about the most urban sprawliest cities in the US as well. It only had about 50k people in 1990. When Vegas boomed it did as well and when the real estate market went belly up in 2008/9 it had a really high number of foreclosures rivaling a lot of cities of California.
+3
Level 60
Sep 20, 2018
Funny thing is I tried Kansas City and it never occurred to me that it was actually larger than St. Louis and maybe I should try that instead.
+1
Level 78
Aug 5, 2020
As mentioned previously, St. Louis metro area is larger, but not city proper. St. Louis City is surrounded by St. Louis County and the Mississippi River, and cannot increase its boundaries.
+3
Level 56
Aug 7, 2019
I detest the American system of “city proper” - it’s a complete misrepresentation of an actual urban areas population, which affects its character, importance etc. So saying London is bigger than LA with regards to “city proper” is not really relevant, where as they are actually similar sizes when the whole urban area is considered at around 10-15 million.
+1
Level 74
Jun 1, 2020
Yeah, I don't understand it much either. It does majorly confuse suburbs with cities. But I guess because each 'city' has its own separate police and fire etc departments, Americans take 'city limits' and designations more seriously?
+1
Level 73
Aug 4, 2020
???
City limits is surely the dominant representation method in Europe. Why would you invent a completly new and more or less arbitrary measurement like "Metro area", when you could just use proper city limits and then stack them together as needed?
+2
Level 56
Aug 4, 2020
America definitely got weird with the evolution of suburbs. Places that used to be different cities because it would take a couple of hours horse ride are now connected by a 30-minute bus ride with no gaps in urban sprawl. An outsider, like me in Canada, will look at Los Angeles and be like, oh that's all the same. But then meet somebody that says, I am not from LA, I am from Anaheim... Long Beach...Inglewood... Compton...
+3
Level 43
Aug 18, 2019
Maybe you cowards, who are complaining about 'city proper', compared to the metro, should move to the city proper rather than hiding in the suburbs with your false sense of securities.
+6
Level ∞
Jun 1, 2020
I have a feeling that a lot of cities are going to take a pretty big hit, population wise, in the next couple of years thanks to Coronavirus / rioting.
+1
Level 80
Aug 4, 2020
No way
+1
Level 78
Aug 5, 2020
Increasing taxes is another reason. Not sure if it will be enough to make an appreciable difference in population, but they should be thankful the census was already taken before the exodus began.
+3
Level 71
Jun 1, 2020
Hey man- I don't mess with the municipality zoning boards. Them be some bad mfs there.
+4
Level 67
Jun 1, 2020
I can never keep track of which parts of Hampton Roads are the biggest cities. I just kind of refer to the entire thing as Norfolk.
+4
Level 70
Jun 7, 2020
I tried Norfolk and then Richmond before giving up on Virginia. I had no idea Chesapeake was that big.
+1
Level 83
Aug 4, 2020
Norfolk used to be here, but I guess Chesapeake just passed it in recent years.
+1
Level 80
Aug 4, 2020
This time only missed Ft Wayne and Huntsville. :-/ I even went to Space Camp at the latter.
+1
Level 59
Aug 4, 2020
Missed 8 of them. Was typing Memphis as time expired after Nashville didn't work. Tried Montgomery and not Huntsville, several in NJ but not Jersey city, Tacoma and not Spokane, Reno and not Henderson. Tried Richmond thinking it was second to VA Beach. Also missed Madison and Grand Rapids.
+1
Level 61
Aug 4, 2020
Yeah before I came to JetPunk, I always thought Montgomery was larger than Huntsville, Reno was larger than Henderson, Richmond was larger than Chesapeake, Saint Louis was larger than Kansas City, and San Francisco was larger than San Diego. But that’s city proper. I guess a lot of people are used to taking quizzes that use urban area (thanks a lot, citypopulation.de) and they don’t do well on city proper quizzes.