You have to love the US Census--it came out with data today contradicting the conventional wisdom about sprawl defining the Los Angeles metropolitan area. According to a press release: "The nation's most densely populated urbanized area is Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif., with nearly 7,000 people per square mile." You hear that New York-Newark? (That metro, by the way, came in fifth, with "an overall density of 5,319 people per square mile.") Who would believe that LA-Long Beach is the most densely populated metro in the country if the Census wasn't looking you in the eye and telling you? Not only is Los Angeles denser than conventional thinking allows, California metros are the king and/or queen of density: "The San Francisco-Oakland, Calif., area is the second most densely populated at 6,266 people per square mile, followed by San Jose, Calif. (5,820 people per square mile) and Delano, Calif. (5,483 people per square mile)." (You know Delano, just north of Bakersfield on Highway 99, also known as the fourth most densely populated urban area in the entire country, according to the US Census?)
The press release has sparked a great deal of commentary today on blogs and Twitter about the definition of "urban." For the record, "The Census Bureau identifies two types of urban areas: "urbanized areas" of 50,000 or more people and "urban clusters" of at least 2,500 and less than 50,000 people. 'Rural' encompasses all population, housing and territory not included within an urban area." According to those definitions, 80.7% of the country's population lives in urban areas.