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Historical Center of Population (1790-2020)

The mean center of population is determined as the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if all residents were of identical weight.

Year Center of Population Location
1790 Kent County, Maryland 23 miles east of Baltimore
1800 Howard County, Maryland 18 miles west of Baltimore
1810 Loudoun County, Virginia 40 miles northwest by west of Washington, D.C.
1820 Hardy County, West Virginia 16 miles east of Moorefield
1830 Grant County, West Virginia 19 miles west-southwest of Moorefield
1840 Upshur County, West Virginia 16 miles south of Clarksburg
1850 Wirt County, West Virginia 23 miles southeast of Parkersburg
1860 Pike County, Ohio 20 miles south by east of Chillcothe
1870 Highland County, Ohio 48 miles east by north of Cincinnati
1880 Boone County, Kentucky 8 miles west by south of Cincinnati
1890 Decatur County, Indiana 20 miles east of Columbus
1900 Bartholomew County, Indiana 6 miles southeast of Columbus
1910 Monroe County, Indiana In the city of Bloomington
1920 Owen County, Indiana 8 miles south-southeast of Spencer
1930 Greene County, Indiana 3 miles northeast of Linton
1940 Sullivan County, Indiana 2 miles southeast by east of Carlisle
1950 Clay County, Illinois 3 miles northeast of Louisville
1960 Clinton County, Illinois 6.5 miles northwest of Centralia
1970 St. Clair County, Illinois 5 miles east-southeast of Mascoutah
1980 Jefferson County, Missouri 1/4 mile west of DeSoto
1990 Crawford County, Missouri 9.7 miles southeast of Steelville
2000 Phelps County, Missouri 2.8 miles east of Edgar Springs
2010 Texas County, Missouri 2.9 miles from Plato
2020 Wright County, Missouri 14.6 miles northeast of Hartville

1790: Each decade, after it tabulates the decennial census, the Census Bureau calculates the center of population. Historically, it has followed a trail that reflects the sweep of the nation's brush stroke across America's population canvas—the settling of the frontier, waves of immigration and the migration west and south. Since 1790, the location has moved in a westerly, then a more southerly pattern.

1860: The center moved the greatest distance, leaping 80 miles westward. The U.S. had reached the Pacific by 1850, acquiring California, New Mexico, and other parts of the Intermountain West from Mexico; and Oregon Country in the Pacific Northwest. Texas had joined the Union and the 1850s saw substantial growth in the West.

1870: The most northerly movement of the center occurred in 1870, following the Civil War, largely the result of substantial population growth in the cities of the Northeast and Midwest. New York was nearing one million people; Chicago grew by 166 percent between 1860 and 1870. Of the 100 most populous cities in 1870, 80 were in the Northeast or Midwest and these cities increased their populations by approximately 1.6 million.

1920: The center moved the shortest distance—just under 10 miles. When the East experiences high rates of growth, as it did in the decades between 1890 and 1920, the westward movement of the center slows. The decade prior to 1920 saw large increases in immigrant populations in the cities of the Northeast and Midwest as well as the migration of African-Americans out of the South to many of those same cities.

2020: The center moved in the most southerly direction ever. The distance moved—11.8 miles—is the shortest distance since 1920 and second shortest distance moved ever. This southerly drift and shorter distance can be attributed to a strong pull on the center by continued population growth in the Southeast, especially Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, the Southwest, and Texas.

Page Last Revised - November 10, 2021
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