The Cincinnati and Covington Suspension Bridge.

Biggest cities in Ohio 150 years ago

Written by:
May 23, 2022
Sepia Times/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Biggest cities in Ohio 150 years ago

After the completion of the 1860 census and the election of President Abraham Lincoln, America imploded. Eleven southern states seceded from the Union in 1861, instigating four bloody years of the Civil War and fundamentally altering the social history of the U.S. The estimates of deaths caused by the Civil War begin around 600,000, but some claim as many as 750,000 individuals died throughout the conflict.

With so many families looking for a new start after combat finally ended and approximately 4 million Black Americans emancipated from slavery, it was time for many Americans to look for a new home to put down roots. The obvious choice for many was to move west, where there was more land to buy, settle, and cultivate. Many traveled by covered wagon, spending months on the dusty trail. Others who could afford better accommodations took a 25-day ride by stagecoach. All of them picked new cities and towns to make their homes, spreading the U.S. population more evenly across different states and territories.

On May 10, 1869, the first transcontinental railroad route across the United States was completed, ushering in a new era of transportation. The project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget, though with the loss of many lives, including those of the many Irish and Chinese immigrants hired to work 12-hour days in the hot western sun. Riding by steam engine, passengers could cross the entire country in four days, enabling waves of Americans and immigrants to quickly occupy land that would otherwise take months to settle.

The years of Civil War reconstruction, coupled with wagon, stagecoach, and railroad passengers finding new lives across the U.S., made the urban development reflected in the 1870 census incredibly interesting. Stacker compiled a list of the biggest cities in Ohio from 150 years ago using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. By transcribing Table XXV of the Ninth Census of the U.S., which was previously only available as a PDF, it's easy to explore what the urban landscape looked like less than a decade after the end of the Civil War as America healed and grew.

The largest city in Ohio ranked #8 among all cities nationwide in 1870. Of the 100 largest cities in the U.S., 5 were in Ohio. Keep reading to find out more about the historic metropolitan landscape in your home state or check out the data on your own on our site, GitHub, or data.world.

You may also like: Counties with the most born-and-bred residents in Ohio

Group of six sitting at outdoor picnic
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Camerique/ClassicStock // Getty Images

#25. Norwalk, Huron County

- Total population: 5,752 (#407 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,833
--- Female population: 2,919
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,629
Doctor making medical rounds in horse buggy.
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#24. Pomeroy, Meigs County

- Total population: 5,824 (#398 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,968
--- Female population: 2,856
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,028
Large trees shading dirt road on residential street
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Detroit Publishing Company // Library of Congress

#23. Piqua, Miami County

- Total population: 5,967 (#385 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,951
--- Female population: 3,016
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,757
Farrier shoeing a horse with blacksmith and two other men standing nearby.
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#22. Newburgh, Cuyahoga County

- Total population: 6,227 (#360 nationwide)
--- Male population: 3,229
--- Female population: 2,998
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,749
Men on steps of rural General Store
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#21. Pultney, Belmont County

- Total population: 6,319 (#349 nationwide)
--- Male population: 3,193
--- Female population: 3,126
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,953
Waiters and waitresses pose for a group picture
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Bettmann // Getty Images

#20. Xenia, Greene County

- Total population: 6,377 (#346 nationwide)
--- Male population: 3,015
--- Female population: 3,362
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,108
Horse and wagon outside general store
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Minnesota Historical Society/Corbis via Getty Images

#19. Springfield, Hamilton County

- Total population: 6,548 (#330 nationwide)
--- Male population: 3,195
--- Female population: 3,353
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,995
Group of young women out for a trip in a horse drawn Surrey
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Transcendental Graphics // Getty Images

#18. Newark, Licking County

- Total population: 6,698 (#322 nationwide)
--- Male population: 3,170
--- Female population: 3,528
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,934
Man standing in door of ice cream parlor
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Minnesota Historical Society/Corbis via Getty Images

#17. Delaware, Delaware County

- Total population: 6,861 (#307 nationwide)
--- Male population: 3,381
--- Female population: 3,480
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,089
Two men standing in front of variety store
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Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#16. Mansfield, Richland County

- Total population: 8,029 (#251 nationwide)
--- Male population: 4,033
--- Female population: 3,996
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,246
Three young women sew dresses in a shop
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Minnesota Historical Society/Corbis via Getty Images

#15. Youngstown, Mahoning County

- Total population: 8,075 (#248 nationwide)
--- Male population: 4,055
--- Female population: 4,020
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,316
Bananas delivery at urban fruit vendor
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Minnesota Historical Society/Corbis via Getty Images

#14. Steubenville, Jefferson County

- Total population: 8,107 (#247 nationwide)
--- Male population: 3,772
--- Female population: 4,335
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,416
Three men in a barber shop
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Minnesota Historical Society/Corbis via Getty Images

#13. Canton, Stark County

- Total population: 8,660 (#229 nationwide)
--- Male population: 4,376
--- Female population: 4,284
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,320
Group of school children with hands on a bat preparing for baseball game.
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Harvey Porch/Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#12. Chillicothe, Ross County

- Total population: 8,920 (#222 nationwide)
--- Male population: 4,276
--- Female population: 4,644
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,802
Group of men in front of a billiard parlor
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#11. Akron, Summit County

- Total population: 10,006 (#186 nationwide)
--- Male population: 5,070
--- Female population: 4,936
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,552
Young man operating a printing press
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Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images

#10. Zanesville, Muskingum County

- Total population: 10,011 (#185 nationwide)
--- Male population: 4,794
--- Female population: 5,217
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 3,123
Group of workmen seated and standing
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Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#9. Portsmouth, Scioto County

- Total population: 10,592 (#166 nationwide)
--- Male population: 5,272
--- Female population: 5,320
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 3,278
Adults jumping rope on sidewalk
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Bettmann // Getty Images

#8. Hamilton, Butler County

- Total population: 11,081 (#151 nationwide)
--- Male population: 5,401
--- Female population: 5,620
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 3,538
Two carriage horses being watered on city street
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Alexander Alland, Sr./Corbis via Getty Images

#7. Springfield, Clark County

- Total population: 12,652 (#128 nationwide)
--- Male population: 6,357
--- Female population: 6,295
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 3,633
People in street scene with horse and buggy and bicycles
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#6. Sandusky, Erie County

- Total population: 13,000 (#120 nationwide)
--- Male population: 6,536
--- Female population: 6,464
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 4,264
Postman delivers mail by horsedrawn carriage
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Vintage Images // Getty Images

#5. Dayton, Montgomery County

- Total population: 30,473 (#44 nationwide)
--- Male population: 15,038
--- Female population: 15,435
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 9,219
Men standing next to horse drawn carriages in front of shops
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American Stock/ClassicStock // Getty Images

#4. Columbus, Franklin County

- Total population: 31,274 (#42 nationwide)
--- Male population: 15,763
--- Female population: 15,511
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 9,181
Men and women sitting with bicycles in park.
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Chicago History Museum // Getty Images

#3. Toledo, Lucas County

- Total population: 31,584 (#40 nationwide)
--- Male population: 15,918
--- Female population: 15,666
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 9,243
Cleveland City Hall
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Cleveland Public Library // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Cleveland, Cuyahoga County

- Total population: 92,829 (#15 nationwide)
--- Male population: 46,770
--- Female population: 46,059
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 26,558
The Cincinnati and Covington Suspension Bridge.
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Sepia Times/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#1. Cincinnati, Hamilton County

- Total population: 216,239 (#8 nationwide)
--- Male population: 106,445
--- Female population: 109,794
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 64,478

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