Rand, McNally & Company’s Map of the United States Showing, in Six Degrees, the Density of Population, 1890


This map, published in 1892 by the Chicago-based Rand McNally and Company, shows the population density of the United States in 1890. Six shades of color are used to indicate the different levels of population density by location, ranging from fewer than two inhabitants per square mile (2.59 square kilometers) to more than 90 inhabitants per square mile. The most densely populated parts of the country are in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest. The West is for the most part sparsely populated, although already by this time Denver, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Seattle are emerging as major cities. Red stars are used to indicate the westward movement of the country’s center of population, caused by a century of migration and settlement. In 1790, the center was near Baltimore, Maryland; by 1890 it had moved to a location in southern Indiana, somewhere west of Cincinnati, Ohio. A note at the bottom explains that in 1890 the overall population density of the United States (excluding Alaska) was 20.77 inhabitants per square mile, up from 16.58 inhabitants per square mile a decade earlier. Also shown are major geographic features including national and state borders, mountains, rivers and lakes, major roads, cities and towns, national parks, and Indian reservations. According to the census of 1890, the total population of the United States in that year was 62,979,766, an increase of 25.5 percent from 1880. The ten largest cities were New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Brooklyn (then not yet part of New York City), Saint Louis, Boston, Baltimore, San Francisco, Cincinnati, and Cleveland.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Rand McNally and Company, Chicago, Illinois


Title in Original Language

Rand, McNally & Co.’s Map of the United States Showing, in Six Degrees, the Density of Population, 1890

Additional Subjects

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 map : color ; 31 x 49 centimeters


  • Scale 1:9,500,000


  1. Michael R. Haines and Richard H. Steckel, editors, A Population History of North America (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).
  2. Frederick Merk, History of the Westward Movement (New York: Knopf, 1978). http://www.census.gov/history/www/through_the_decades/fast_facts/1890_fast_facts.html

Last updated: September 16, 2015