by John Egan
April 03, 2017
No longer is Austin, TX, simply a weird college town and laid-back state capital. From 1987, the first year of South by Southwest, to 2017, the city’s population doubled -- and if you ask the locals, it feels like the traffic has more than doubled.
As of Jan. 1, 2017, Austin was home to an estimated 943,795 people, making it the 11th largest city in the U.S. All of those residents live in a 326-square-mile area, or about 250 times the size of New York’s Central Park. In all, Austin has 2,896 residents per square mile.
The enormity of those numbers may be hard to grasp, so we’ve assembled some data and visualizations to show just how big Austin’s population is but how small its landmass is.
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Austin’s population is so large that if it were a state, it would be the 45th largest state in the country. That’s right: Five U.S. states -- Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming -- have populations that are lower than Austin’s.
However, Austin is puny in physical size compared with those five states. In terms of how much land it covers, Vermont is the smallest of the five. Yet when compared with Austin, it’s certainly not small in physical stature: The Green Mountain State is nearly 30 times the size of the Live Music Capital of the World.
Austin’s population is so large that if it were a state, it would be the 45th largest state in the country.
To visualize Austin’s size versus the size of the five states with smaller populations, we used an online mapping tool called MAPfrappe. The MAPfrappe tool enabled us to drop a blue-bordered outline of the city of Austin onto a map of each of the five states to give you a better perspective on the size comparison. Below, you can check out the results of our mapping experiment.
As a refresher, Austin has 943,795 residents living in a 326-square-mile area. That’s 2,896 people per square mile. On each map, the city of Austin is bordered in blue; on the Alaska map, it looks like a blue dot.
South Dakota’s 2016 population: 865,454
Square miles: 77,121
Number of people per square mile: 11.2
North Dakota’s 2016 population: 757,952
Square miles: 70,704
Number of people per square mile: 10.7
Alaska’s 2016 population: 741,894
Square miles: 656,424
Number of people per square mile: 1.1
Vermont’s 2016 population: 624,594
Square miles: 9,615
Number of people per square mile: 65
Wyoming’s 2016 population: 585,501
Square miles: 97,818
Number of people per square mile: 6