Lynchburg, Virginia: The Most Typical City in America


Creating Context for Cities

Data is nothing without context. How can we understand a city without first understanding the characteristics of a normal or typical city? I crunched the numbers on eight measures of 917 cities to learn what constitutes a typical city in America. Here’s what I found.

Population; population density; median age; median income; poverty rate; commuting by car; high school graduates; postgraduate degrees. Of course, this is something of an arbitrary selection of metrics. The American Community Survey (the source of this data, vintage 2015) provides over 1,200 tables of measures of cities alone. Each table has one to dozens of different measures. Consider, too, the hundreds, if not thousands of other data sources, public and private, that could provide data germane to understanding a “typical” city. Let’s accept that, while we could spend a lifetime investigating the makeup of a typical city, these eight measures are, at the very least, a good start.

Read More