Ever since the Statue of Liberty was first erected on a small island in the middle of New York Harbor in 1875, the city — and, by extension, the rest of the country — was heralded as a land rich with freedom and opportunity. While a recent political miasma has somewhat undermined these values, for many, the statue—and the city over which it watches—is still a shining metropolis.
Visitors may be slightly putt-off by the smog and grime endemic to any major population center, but New York City is often considered to be one of the wealthiest, most industrious cities in the world. That is, of course, an accomplishment which could only have been attained through hundreds of years of development.
New York City, however, isn’t the only American population center eager to capture such praise, and tons of smaller, up-and-coming principalities are poised to slowly eclipse the Big Apple in terms of population size and economic output. While New York was a product of bygone industrial climates, Silicon Valley, and the burgeoning quaternary sector of the American economy could cause relatively unknown towns to become populace powerhouses.
That certainly won’t happen overnight, and, while some of the fastest-growing urban areas in the United States may be relatively predictable, there are definitely a few previously underappreciated places across the country which are soon to become more than relevant. It may take centuries to challenge Gotham, but here are 20 U.S. cities that could one day become the next New York.
20 Provo, Utah is all about tech
Those outside of the American midwest likely can’t name any major urban environment in Utah save for Salt Lake City. However, Provo, a smaller metropolitan area located just south of Salt Lake City, is poised to change that.
The population of this relatively-underrated town has swelled considerably in recent years thanks to a booming tech industry.
Adobe — a Silicon Valley company with which most will be familiar — has established a major presence there, and Provo will become an economic Mecca should things continue as they have for the past decade. Nestled on the shores of the beautiful Utah Lake, Provo is definitely ripe for future emigration.
19 Expect Raleigh, North Carolina to grow in the next ten years
Raleigh, North Carolina may be a victim of the offbeat, backwater status attributed to many smaller cities in the American south, but a relatively low cost of living combined with an up-and-coming, research-and-development-driven local economy could have this overlooked principality challenging neighboring Atlanta at some point. As with many areas in the south, living costs — even in major urban environments — are much cheaper than those of major northern cities like New York or Boston, which makes Raleigh a pretty attractive place for those looking to buy in without breaking the bank. Raleigh’s job growth is estimated to escalate by about 42 percent in the next ten years, which would certainly raise the area’s economic status.
18 Portland, Oregon is known by locals as "Silicon Forest"
As with Utah’s Salt Lake City, Portland is likely the only major city widely known by those living outside of the state in which it was founded. While Oregon itself may illicit imagery of amber plains and rugged western-American countryside, Portland is quickly becoming a tech giant the likes of which may soon eclipse Silicon Valley. Itself referred to by the local populace as “Silicon Forest,”
Portland’s tech-talent pool and vast telecommuting opportunities will allow it to grow in ways which New York City may not.
Plus, with a relatively close proximity to the Bay Area tech boom, Portland is the place to be for bloggers and coders the world over.
17 Fort Collins, Colorado is ahead of the times
Colorado has seen a population boom in the wake of the 2013 decision to legalize recreational Mary-Jane. While some of the immigration to Fort Collins may be the result of this policy amendment, it is more likely due to the area’s major quaternary economic sector expansions.
The average annual salary for Fort Collins natives working in the tech industry is nearly $90,000, and stats like that are drawing people en masse to the Centennial State.
Fort Collins is expected to add around 30,000 to it’s population in the coming years, and, though it may currently hardly compare to New York City, that may change in the far future.
16 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas doesn't need the glitz and glamor
Though it may be surprising to those unused to the rigors of living in such an arid climate, Dallas, Texas experienced the largest population growth of any city in the United States in 2017. With a total of 147,000 new residents calling the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan area home, some have questioned just what has drawn so many to the heart of the Lone Star State.
Its main attraction may be the relatively-low cost of living, as home ownership in Dallas is well under the American median of $220,000.
It may not necessarily carry much of the glitz or glamor of New York City, but, should these migration patterns continue, Dallas could one day be a much more populous city.
15 Jacksonville, Florida has a solid economy
Jacksonville may not carry the same esteem as neighboring cities like Orlando or Miami, but it has experienced a relatively healthy population increase over the past 5 years. Florida has long been a retirement destination for elderly couples across the country, and Jacksonville’s relatively-low cost of living makes it attractive for those looking to purchase small properties in the Sunshine State. What’s more, Jacksonville’s economy has expanded significantly since the national recession in 2008, and that means that it’s much more than a dedicated retiree area. It’s hard to turn down the sunny weather and tropical living afforded to residents of Jacksonville — and their NFL team nearly made it to the 2018 Super Bowl to boot!
14 Nashville, Tennessee has a great music scene
While Nashville has been a major tourist destination for decades, few consider it to be an economic powerhouse the likes of which may one day overtake New York City. However, with major leaps in population size in wage growth, Nashville has become an incredibly-attractive residential area. Median salary size increased by 36 percent from 2010 to 2015, and that statistic continues to trend upward as more citizens flock to the American heartland. The Music City is, in the minds of many non-southerners, a relatively quaint town compared to some of the country’s more industrious population centers, but public opinion of the city may change in the near future.
13 Tampa, Florida has a stable economy
Some residents of Tampa, Florida may not believe it to be the most illustrious place to live, but native Floridians likely forget that their state will always draw massive amounts of tourists by virtue of their state's seemingly perfect weather. Most urban districts in Florida will be ranked more favorably than those out of state simply because they are able to escape the awful, wintery-weather-addled trappings of urban environments in northern states. Plus, with a stable economy and an attractive housing market for retirees, Tampa may well become a destination the size of the almost-always-cold New York in the coming years.
12 start paying attention to Charlotte, North Carolina
As with the neighboring city of Raleigh, Charlotte isn’t typically considered to be one of the country’s most industrious cities. However, the Queen City of the south is currently experiencing and industrial boom thanks in part to the low business costs associated with the area.
With scientific and technical service industries increasing by nearly 10 percent from 2015 to 2016, Charlotte can be attractive to those looking to set up shop outside of the oft-discussed Silicon Valley.
Plus, the area’s housing market — which was devastated by the 2008 market crash — has significantly recovered and continues to draw buyers to the area.
11 Frisco, Texas has a bit of everything
Just north of the already-mentioned Dallas/Fort Worth area lies Frisco, Texas, which is estimated by some to be one of the wealthiest residential districts in the United States. Affluence of that nature is typically associated with either New York penthouses or the rolling hills of suburban Los Angeles, but the American south once again manages to defy expectations. With a population growth of over 40 percent in a 6 year period, the area as a whole is growing at a rate 8 times that of typical urban growth rates. All this from a city which was, at one time, most closely associated with Dr. Pepper.
10 Atlanta, Georgia is still affordable
Atlanta, Georgia is already considered by some to be one of the most prominent cities in the American south, and assumptions like that aren’t levelled pointlessly. Atlanta’s job market received a 45,000-position shot in the arm in 2016 alone, and the city's status as an industrial capital has already been well-established.
Salaries in the region may not be as high as they are in more esteemed areas, but living costs in Atlanta are incredibly low and the area continues to be one of the more affordable urban environments in the United States.
New York may be the Empire City, but Atlanta certainly earns its title of the “Empire City of the south.”
9 Denver, Colorado is considered to be the third best place to live in the US
Nestled in the placid northeastern reaches of Colorado, Denver has long been a destination for midwestern tourists. A rare instance of urban sprawl amongst the state’s vast plains, the Mile High City was ranked as the third best place to live in 2018 in a survey conducted by U.S. News. With a relatively steady increase in both population and income over the past few years, it could very well be that Denver some day expands to become comparable to major U.S. metropolitan areas like Los Angeles or New York. Another tech industry haven, it’s surprising to see a once quaint town adapt so rapidly to future technologies.
8 Kent, Washington has more than meets the eye
Developed essentially directly beside the iconic urban landscape of Washington State’s iconic Seattle, Kent has benefited from many of the spoils associated with the area’s tech boom. It is actually the second oldest city located in King County, incorporated just after Seattle itself in 1890. The population has ballooned in recent years, owing primarily to its close proximity to the state’s largest metropolitan area. Offering a unique backdrop of both cityscape and natural greenery, Kent would be the ideal place for those attracted to urban sprawl while maintaining an interest in the state’s own natural beauty.
7 New Orleans, Louisiana has a vibrant culture
Though it may be tough to believe given the stigma surrounding the city’s population post Katrina, New Orleans is actually one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. Part of that may stem from the state’s sunny environs and jubilant reputation which makes it attractive to retirees, though another huge draw would be the area’s re-energized economy. The city grew by nearly 30 percent in terms of population size from 2010 to 2016, and the Big Easy may be well on its way to returning to the former glory it once experienced before it was wrecked by one of the most devastating natural disasters in United States history.
6 Charleston, South Carolina has a lot to offer
Charleston's archaic charm may seemingly disqualify it from serious industrial development contentions, but the city’s tourist-run economy has caused the population to grow by nearly 9 percent in 6 years. That may not sound like the most amazing stat, but tourism is an important aspect in regards to the economic stability of an major metropolitan area.
Though the area’s average annual salary is lower than the national average, Charleston easily compensates via the location’s comfortable, sunny southern climate.
It may not have the larger-than-life flair of places like New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, but, if the population continues to increase, that may one day change.
5 San Jose, California is giving San Francisco a run for its money
As new economic horizons continue to breathe life into areas once crippled by the country’s neglected secondary sector, towns which once primarily sustained themselves on service or tourist-driven economies have been driven back to the forefront of the public consciousness. San Jose never quite felt the full brunt of the late 2000s deteriorating American economic climate, but its close proximity to the so-called Silicon Valley has made it an alluring area for cyber-related expansion. Ranked first in the nation in regional GDP growth, the sky seems to be the limit for this bustling Californian city. A few miles south of San Francisco, San Jose could seriously rival it’s neighbor in terms of economic output in the coming years.
4 Las Vegas, Nevada has a ton of jobs
Perhaps the most notoriously tourist-centric city in the United States, Las Vegas is known to be a town rife with adventures for just about every kind of person. Of course, while permanent life in Vegas may seem strange to some, that tourist-driven economy must be propped up by a substantial population of workers. Though it may be a tough sell for some, Las Vegas stands tall above cities which rely on smoke-riddled industrial areas. Housing prices in Sin City are remarkably affordable as well, and, though the climate may be a bit extreme for some, life in the desert may be much more rewarding than it would initially seem.
3 Salt Lake City, Utah has had a tech boom
Not far north of the aforementioned Provo, Utah lies Salt Lake City. Settled on the banks of the well-known, aptly-named Salt Lake, Salt Lake City is poised to possibly eclipse New York in terms of economic output thanks to the recent western tech boom, and this previously overlooked metropolitan area may soon be just as relevant as any other major urban territories in the country. Salt Lake City may also continue to draw new residents thanks to how close it is to many of the natural wonders which the state has to offer. While places like New York City or Los Angeles tend to be smog-choked and grimy, it will be a while before Salt Lake City develops that sort of reputation.
2 Seattle, Washington is giving New York a run for its money
A city which some may consider to have been ground zero for the recent tech boom, Seattle has become one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Ranked as having the third-fastest growing GMP and fastest growing annual wage increases in the country, this seaside city has, according to Forbes, been ranked as the seventh overall fastest-growing city in the United States.
Seattle is, of course, already a very well-known area, and it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see the doubly-invigorated economy eventually rival that of New York City.
It may take a few decades, but it is likely that Washington State’s most urban environment will play a major role in the country’s future economic development.
1 Chicago, Illinois is the place to be
Home to one of the most notoriously successful tech industries outside of Silicon Valley, the Windy City seems to be on the verge of overcoming the losses sustained by the United State’s de-emphasized secondary economic sector on which it once heavily relied. STEM jobs are drawing new residents to the area in droves, and Chicago actually hosts The University of Chicago, one of the country’s most successful sub-Ivy League post-secondary schools. To some, there may still seem to be an amount of gloom and doom in northern Illinois, but Chicago may well be rivalling New York City’s GDP in the near future.
References: forbes.com, usnews.com, homesnacks.net, marketwatch.com