Biggest Population Losses

After a recent drive through Cairo, Illinois (article forthcoming), and seeing the effects of decades of racial segregation and violence, and then economic decline and population loss, I wondered what other major and minor cities in the United States has experienced such steep and dramatic losses? Besides Cairo, Detroit and Wheeling, I asked my Facebook readers of other examples.

After a recent drive through Cairo, Illinois (article forthcoming), and seeing the effects of decades of racial segregation and violence, and then economic decline and population loss, I wondered what other major and minor cities in the United States has experienced such steep and dramatic losses? Besides Cairo, Detroit and Wheeling, I asked my Facebook readers of other examples.


Cairo, Illinois

  • Peak Population: 15, 203 (1920)
  • Recent Population: 2,831 (2010)
  • % Change: -81%
  • Timeframe: 90 years

Detroit, Michigan

  • Peak Population: 1,849,568 (1950)
  • Recent Population: 713,777 (2010)
  • % Change: -61%
  • Timeframe: 60 years

Buffalo, New York

  • Peak Population: 580,132 (1950)
  • Recent Population: 261,310 (2010)
  • % Change: -55%
  • Timeframe: 60 years

Wheeling, West Virginia

  • Peak Population: 61,659 (1930)
  • Recent Population: 28,486 (2010)
  • % Change: -54%
  • Timeframe: 80 years

Clarksburg, West Virginia

  • Peak Population: 32,014 (1950)
  • Recent Population: 16,578 (2010)
  • % Change: -48.2%
  • Timeframe: 60 years

New Orleans, Louisiana

  • Peak Population: 627,525 (1960)
  • Recent Population: 343,829 (2010)
  • % Change: -45.2%
  • Timeframe: 50 years

Huntington, West Virginia

  • Peak Population: 86,353 (1950)
  • Recent Population: 49,138 (2010)
  • % Change: -43%
  • Timeframe: 60 years

Charleston, West Virginia

  • Peak Population: 85,796 (1960)
  • Recent Population: 51,400 (2010)
  • % Change: -40%
  • Timeframe: 50 years

Rochester, New York

  • Peak Population: 332,488 (1950)
  • Recent Population: 210,565 (2010)
  • % Change: -36.6%
  • Timeframe: 60 years

Fairmont, West Virginia

  • Peak Population: 29,346 (1960)
  • Recent Population: 18,704 (2010)
  • % Change: -36.2%
  • Timeframe: 50 years

Gary, Indiana

  • Peak Population: 178,320 (1960)
  • Recent Population: 80,294 (2010)
  • % Change: -54.97%
  • Timeframe: 50 years

Do you have any other examples of cities that have seen such loss? Feel free to chime in below with the city or on the Abandoned Facebook page!

6 Comments

  1. St. Louis
    856,796 (1950)
    319,294 (2010)
    % change: -62.73%
    Time Frame: 60 years

    East St. Louis
    82,366 (1950)
    27,006 (2010)
    % change: -67.21%
    Time Frame: 60 years

    Galena, IL
    14,000 (1850)
    3,429 (2010)
    % change: -75.50%
    Time frame: 160 years

    Prypiat, Ukraine
    50,000 (1986)
    0 (1986)
    % change -`100.00%
    Time frame: one week

    1. 143,333 (1930)
      76,089 (2010)
      53% loss. Their population has stabilized, so I would expect that with their ongoing redevelopment projects that Scranton will see an increase for 2020.

  2. Youngstown, Ohio
    Peak population: 170,002 (1930)
    Current population: 66,982 (2010)
    % change: -60.60%
    Timeframe: 80 years

    Cleveland, Ohio
    Peak population: 914,808 (1950)
    Current population: 396,815 (2010)
    % change: -56.62%
    Time frame: 60 years

    East Liverpool, Ohio
    Peak population: 26,243 (1970)
    Current population: 11,195 (2010)
    % change: -57.34%
    Time frame: 40 years

    Welch, West Virginia
    Peak population: 6,603 (1950)
    Current population: 2,406 (2010)
    % change: -63.56%
    Time frame: 60 years

    Shenandoah, Pennsylvania
    Peak population: 25,774 (1910)
    Current population: 5,071 (2010)
    % change: -80.32%
    Time frame: 100 years

  3. I'm headed up toward Cairo next week and appreciate your photos and purpose. I plan to do some shots and wondered if you have any advice or things I need to consider about shooting there. Your commitment to this cause is both admirable and valuable.

Leave your comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.