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Contact:  Decennial Media Relations
301-457-3691/301-457-3620 (fax)
301-457-1037 (TDD)
e-mail: 2000usa@census.gov

Frederick Broome


2000 U.S. Population Centered in Phelps County, Mo.

The area around Edgar Springs, Mo., now shares an honor known only to 21 other U.S. communities, Census Bureau officials announced today. The Edgar Springs area is the new U.S. population center.

The center is in Phelps County, approximately 2.8 miles east of Edgar Springs, a rural community whose population totaled 190, according to Census 2000. This point is approximately 12.1 miles south and 32.5 miles west of the 1990 center of population, which was 9.7 miles southeast of Steelville, Mo.

Each decade, after it tabulates the decennial census, the Census Bureau calculates the center of population. The center is determined as the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if all 281,421,906 residents were of identical weight.

For Census 2000, the center of population is at 37.696987 latitude and 91.809567 longitude.

Historically, the center of population has followed a trail that reflects the sweep of the nation's brush stroke across America's population canvas. The sweep reflects 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. The new center of population is now more than 1,000 miles from the first center in 1790, which was located near Chestertown, Md.

In 1980, the center of population was near DeSoto, Mo., 39.5 miles northeast of the 1990 location.

Following the 1950, 1960 and 1970 censuses, the center of population was situated in Illinois: Mascoutah in 1970, Centralia in 1960 and Olney in 1950.

Indiana had the distinction for the previous six decades, from 1890 to 1940. The cities or towns included: Carlisle (1940), Linton (1930), Spencer (1920), Bloomington (1910), Columbus (1900) and Greensburg (1890).

Covington, Ky., was the population center in 1880.

Portsmouth and Hillsboro, Ohio, were the centerpieces in 1870 and 1860, respectively.

West Virginia provided the fulcrum for the nation's balance from 1830 to 1850. Parkersburg, Clarksburg and Petersburg had the distinction.

Moorefield (1820) and Leesburg (1810), Va., provided the balance during the previous two censuses.

Following the second decennial census in 1800, Baltimore, Md., was determined to be the center of population.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | PIO@census.gov | Last Revised: May 19, 2016