Most Densely Populated American Cities


So there’s a few ways we can do this…  When it comes to population density you can boil it down to individual neighborhoods, to cities, to countries, you get the idea.   So we’re going to go the creative route, because, well… do you want a boring list or a fun one?  –Yeah, that’s what we thought.  So what we have here is a list of cities in the United States ranked by which ones have the most densely populated neighborhoods.  Make sense?  No?  Don’t worry it will.  You’re seriously going to want to phone your friends once you’ve read this.  You’ll be that annoying person at dinner parties wanting to spew fun facts about population densities.  Enjoy, and you’re welcome.

New York City

Dark City VI
Creative Commons License photo credit: nosha

Seriously, when it comes to the US, could it be anywhere else that tops our list?  When you want density you’ve got to go one direction… up.  Well, I suppose you could build down, but since this isn’t a sci-fi Bruce Willis movie set in the future we’ll just ignore that.  Anyway, yes, you have to build up, and if you’re looking for a vertical city in the US (which we all sometimes do) New York is your winner.  The two most densely populated neighborhoods are Guttenberg and Union City with 56,012 and 52,978 people per square mile.  If we wanted to make this list less interesting for everyone except New Yorkers, we could have populated this list entirely with New York City neighborhoods.  The city simply dominates with West New York, Hoboken, and New York City itself taking up positions three, four, and five in terms of the United States’ most densely populated Neighborhoods.

Los Angeles

los angeles by night
Creative Commons License photo credit: tylerdurden1

One might say, “Big surprise, the United States’ second biggest city is also second on this list.”  Well, one might say that… but they’d also be an ignorant doofus.  Too mean?  Okay, let’s just say they’ve never been to L.A. the City of Angels.  Los Angeles goes on forever; it is a seemingly unending urban sprawl.  Only a city like Tokyo rivals it.  So what does that have to do with anything?  Well think about it.  New York City is geographically tiny and vertical, perfect for winning a population density contest (imagine the trophy).  If a city is spread out, then the people are going to be too.  Fortunately for LA, it has the neighborhood of Maywood.  And what is Maywood?  Well, let’s just cut to it.  It’s a sanctuary for illegal aliens.  Literally.  Yes, we’re not being snide here.  The city has literally declared itself a sanctuary for illegal aliens, especially those from Mexico.  So, as one can imagine, Hispanics who illegally enter the United States flock to the tiny city of Maywood, packing it so tight that it places the endless sprawl of Los Angeles as number two on this list.  As of the last census, the density of Maywood was listed at 23,887 people per square mile.


Creative Commons License photo credit: [le]doo

Ah, Miami, beautiful Miami… and it’s surprisingly crowded.  Actually, it’s not.  North Bay Village is a bit of an amalgam.  You wouldn’t know it from the sound of it, but the village is actually a small, mostly man made island that was dredged up in 1940.  And it’s tiny, less than a square mile.  So what makes it so densely populated?  The place is vertical.  Most of this tiny island is covered with high-rise condominium complexes.  That which isn’t a high-rise condo is probably either a restaurant or nightclub.   So in other words, the entire island is nothing but tightly packed places to live, coupled with reasons for why you’d want to live there.  Good fun.  The density is 20,267 people per square mile.  As one can see, when it comes to high population density within the United States you’re either talking about a very small, vertical neighborhood, or a place with a gimmick.


Boston skyline from the Atlantic Ocean
Creative Commons License photo credit: Willem van Bergen

New England, crowded?  What?  Well, at least it is in Somerville, a suburb of Massachusetts.  So what is Somerville?  How do we put this nicely?  The natives have often referred to it as “Slumerville”.  A couple decades ago, it was the car theft capital of the United States.  Historically, it has been a blue-collar, industrial town that’s had a few problems along the way.  Despite all this, it is indeed the most densely populated neighborhood in New England, allowing Boston to ride its coattails right onto this list.  Today the neighborhood has changed to some degree, namely due to the removal of rent control in the mid 1990’s which was immediately followed by the internet boom.  Today the city is dealing with tension between its longtime, blue-collar residents, and the newer more well-to-do people who have moved in.  Locally, the financially successful newcomers are known as “barnies”.   Hm.  The density is 18,868 people per square mile.


Louisville Skyline
Creative Commons License photo credit: The Pug Father

So how does a city like Louisville Kentucky make it onto a list like this?  Simple.  The neighborhood of Poplar Hills.  And this is a good one.  The total population of Poplar Hills is a staggering 396 people.  So how is it dense?  Easy.  It’s tiny.  How tiny?  About the size of your backyard (well, slightly bigger).  Poplar Hills is a whopping .02 square miles in size.  Do the math and you’ve got a town the size of a postage stamp with a population density of 17,036 people per square mile.

San Francisco

San Francisco Skyline
Creative Commons License photo credit: paulhami

We’ll happily finish this list with San Francisco.  Why happily?  Because it’s the city as a whole, no tiny neighborhoods.  When we say San Francisco, we really mean San Francisco, not just a small portion of it. The city is moderately vertical, and not too large.  There is, however, one gimmick.  The city’s culture.  San Francisco proudly leans to the hard left.  One might even use the term “aggressive” to describe the city’s stance.  This prevalent culture in turn attracts people with liberal ideals who wish live among people who share their views.  Small wonder that this is the city where “hippies” originated from.  The population density is 16,634 people per square mile.

Population densities are surprisingly interesting.  They’re not random.  If an area is densely packed, there’s something going on.  Either a lack of land coupled with vertical architecture, or a special culture that people want to get in on.  That said, all this talk of people packed in by the thousands kind of makes a cabin in the woods sound awfully appealing.

Most Densely Populated American Cities
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