What if Raleigh had 2M people? Historical Raleigh Population Density

I made a chart of historic population and population density. If our current population density was at the same level as 1890, we’d be at 2M+ people!
The aerial shot is a map of Raleigh in 1872.
Pop density = people per square mile of City area.

Source: https://cityofraleigh0drupal.blob.core.usgovcloudapi.net/drupal-prod/COR22/PopulationAndCitySize.pdf



Any guesses as to the big dip between 1900 and 1950?

Extending that, would be cool to overlay the chart with some tick marks that show each year that Raleigh annexed more land. You can see those dates here: Map Viewer

I would guess that each larger dip in density is when we increased in land area. I would further guess that after each annexation, population density started to increase but then dropped because we annexed more low-density land.

However, starting in the 1950s, we would annex more land but the density STAYED low which explains that plateau. Again, just a theory. Let me know if we can collaborate on my idea of adding the annexation dates. :slight_smile:


Here are some more charts. Population and Size trend up pretty well together over time. AKA Sprawl.
I have also added a chart of population density vs size.
Also we annexed a lot of land pretty recently!



When (and why) did Raleigh annex Unstead state Park?

That’s a huge chunk of area without population that drives down density numbers. It reduces density and does not provide tax revenue.

…who actually cares about raw density percentages except statistics nerds? (I mean that lovingly)

At least the city picks up the quarry’s tax revenue, I suppose.


I think that Raleigh annexed the park in order to justify annexing the development at Brier Creek.

As for the density and population graphs being shared in this topic, Raleigh’s density has been increasing this century in particular after many decades of ever expanding suburban annexation. That graph is not accurate if it’s mapping population against the actual city limits. I suspect that the population is being mapped against the ETJ (which is over 200 square miles). Of course, it’s possible that the city has annexed a boat load of land recently that I am not familiar with having happened. ???


Good question. Density numbers don’t really excite people.

But I am curious as to why it was annexed. Is the quarry part of Umstead?



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Raleigh had to annex the park in order to annex the land that would become the Brier Creek development. It had to be a contiguous annexation. Even though the airport was between the two, it somehow was OK.


Here is the data source. The 2020 population numbers are stated as CAMPO Projections, not sure on the area number.

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That is not current. That projection was made a decade+ ago when the city presumed that it would annex more land. The state general assembly + governor put the kibosh on annexation at will by cities, and the additional area that has been annexed since then has grown as slow as molasses in the arctic. The city has about 147-150 square miles of land today. I am not certain of the actual number, but it’s nowhere near 210. As a result, Raleigh’s density metric has been moving upward for the past 10 years after decades of languishing and diminishing.


I think we’d be a completely different place. Maybe we’d have more sports teams, but what if that meant we had no room for RTP? Maybe that means we have more companies, then doesn’t that mean we have more expensive homes?

If I remember correctly @TedF has access to the actual updated land area of Raleigh. Not sure if he’s participating here anymore, but I’d love to know what the current city limits area is.

Edit: It looks like @TedF hasn’t posted since last year. We may never know! I think that I can scroll back into the other thread about population and see if we can find the land area of the city there.

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So, update on Raleigh’s land area. It’s 149.592242 square miles. @TedF was kind enough to message me with that latest land area.


You know, if Raleigh DID have 2 Million people, I bet we’d have our DAMN GUCCI STORE BY NOW ok I’m sorry y’all I will see myself out :sweat_smile:


Are you sure you’re not missing a 1 at the beginning of that number? Raleigh was over 147 square miles the last time I saw a number.


yeah…I copied and pasted and must have missed copying the 1. I went back and fixed it.

since mid fifties is that roughly 100 thousand per fifty square miles?