Top 10 sprawling cities


Houston, TX. Wikimedia Commons.

Phoenix, AZ. Wikimedia Commons

San Antonio, TX. Wikimedia Commons

San Deigo, CA. Wikimedia Commons

Dallas, TX, Wikimedia Commons

San Jose, CA. Wikimedia Commons

Austin, TX. Wikimedia Commons

Jacksonville, FL. Wikimedia Commons

Columbus, OH. Wikimedia Commons

Fort Worth, TX. Wikimedia Commons


Spread from San Diego to Jacksonville, here’s a list of cities that are more suburban than urban—the 10 largest US cities that were built mostly after 1950, the start of the “age of sprawl.”

The list is almost entirely made up of cities in the Sunbelt, with the exception of Columbus, Ohio. Houston is the largest “sprawling city.” The group as a whole is growing fast—growing in population by 9.6 percent in the first half of this decade. The fastest growing sprawling city is Austin, which grew by nearly 18 percent in just five years.

The density of these cities ranges from Jacksonville (1,162/square mile), to San Jose (5,815/square mile).

The average is about 3,100 per square mile. The average Walk Score is only 42.  Yet these cities also include walkable, mixed-use, traditional centers. Houston, for example, has a large section of the city built on a traditional grid. Same with San Diego, San Antonio, Dallas, and Fort Worth.

Texas tops the list with five of the top 10 sprawling cities (Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, and Fort Worth). California has two (San Diego and San Jose).

These sprawling cities grew mostly since 1950 (figures from 2015):

1. Houston, TX. Population 2,327,463. Land area, 599.6 square miles.

2. Phoenix, AZ. Population 1,563,025. Land area, 516.7 square miles.

3. San Antonio, TX. Population 1,469,845. Land area, 325.2 square miles.

4. San Diego, CA. Population 1,394,928. Land area, 325.2 square miles.

5. Dallas, TX. Population 1,300,092. Land area, 340.5 square miles.

6. San Jose, CA. Population 1,026,908. Land area, 176.6 square miles.

7. Austin, TX. Population 931,830. Land area, 322.5 square miles.

8. Jacksonville, FL. Population 868,031. Land area, 747 square miles.

9. Columbus, OH. Population 850,106. Land area, 217.2 square miles.

10. Fort Worth, TX. Population 833,319. Land area, 339.8 square miles.