For the majority of US States, the state capital is NOT the largest city in the state. There are a few different reasons for this. In many cases, capitals were established during a time period when it wasn’t easy to get from one city to another. Therefore, capital cities were chosen because of their central location in the state.
Keep in mind also, that a state’s largest city today wasn’t always the largest city at the time a state capital was chosen. Olympia was more populous than Seattle when was chosen as the capital city of the Washington. Nevada’s largest city, wasn’t founded until 1905 but Carson City became the capital when Nevada was granted statehood in 1864.
In other cases, state capitals were selected for some specific or somewhat bizarre reason. Texas had quite the dispute over whether Austin or Houston should be the capital of Texas after Texas won independence from Mexico and became its own country. At one point, the city of Detroit was Michigan’s state capital but this was moved to Lansing to have the capital be farther away from British-controlled Canada. Madison became Wisconsin’s capital in part because of a simple lobbying campaign by the city’s founder.
There are 33 capitals who are NOT the largest city in their state.
|Louisiana||Baton Rouge||New Orleans|
|Missouri||Jefferson City||Kansas City|
|Nevada||Carson City||Las Vegas|
|New Mexico||Santa Fe||Albuquerque|
|New York||Albany||New York City|
|South Dakota||Pierre||Sioux Falls|
Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2010 figures and 2014, 2016 population estimates.
Now, can you name the states whose capital is also its largest city?
Looking for more on US State Capitals. Check out 50 Remarkable Facts About the US State Capitals