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Monday, September 10, 2007

Cincinnati Booster Group: Inflates Population To Make City Nation's 11th Largest

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Even Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory -- who's been battling to raise the Census Bureau's headcount -- should be surprised to learn he leads the nation's 11th largest city. Foreigners are being told that Cincinnati has more residents than Detroit and is one-notch behind San Jose, Calif. as the nation's 10th largest city. That's the word spread across the globe by the International Visitors Council, an organization partly funded by the U.S State Department that is supposed to boost trade, tourism and educate foreign guests about American institutions.

As for "Greater Cincinnati" -- it's the "23rd largest city in the USA." Clearly intended as a reference to the metro area, it is pretty much on the money though quite awkwardly worded.

But the city data smells like pure boosterism run amok. The Visitor's Council for years has been falsely telling people the City of Cincinnati has about 900,000 residents living within its municipal boundaries. That makes it bigger than Detroit, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle and Washington, D.C. That makes it bigger than Columbus, Ohio's largest city according to the Census Bureau, and Cleveland, which is the state's second biggest city.

This population puffery has been uncovered at a time when Mayor Mallory has been complaining the Census Bureau's population estimates are too low. But he's not in the Visitor's Council's league. Mallory contends there are 378,259 people who live in his city. The Census says 332,252.

At 900,000, the Visitor's Center seems to believe they are both way off base. Of course, it's the other way around, and the boosters are the ones cooking the guestbooks. Some Japanese or European business leader might be tempted to believe the propaganda.

"Greater Cincinnati is a diverse, thriving and growing region with important historical roots and high-tech aspirations. Situated squarely at the intersection of three states, the Greater Cincinnati Metropolitan Area extends from the southwest corner of Ohio into northern Kentucky and southeastern Indiana. It includes 13 counties covering 3,810 square miles (6,135 sq. km).

"At its heart is the City of Cincinnati. Amidst the gently rolling hills along the Ohio River, Cincinnati is located in Hamilton County in the State of Ohio. The city covers 80 square miles (130 sq km). Approximately 900,000 people live within the limits of the city of Cincinnati. 1,982,530 live in the 13 county, 3 state Greater Cincinnati area."

A link to the wildly inflated population claim is here. It probably illustrates how overzealous boosterism leads to overstated economic claims. The mayor has been much more cautious in his descriptions of growth during the headcount wrangling with the Census Bureau. He says, "We have turned around 50 years of decline, and we are growing once again."

There are many who doubt the mayor. And who can accept the visitor's bureau's claim of 900,000?

The official Census Bureau population estimates for the nation's 25 largest cities doesn't have Cincinnati anywhere on the list. Indeed, Milwaukee is 25th with an estimated population of 573,336. That's nearly 200,000 more people than Mayor Mallory contends live in Cincinnati.


  1. Calling Cincinnati "diverse" is like calling Lima "interesting." Asians and Hispanics stay away from the area in droves; their percentages are far below the national average for areas the size of greater Cincinnati.

  2. Hi Anon --

    I do live in the Cincinnati area and there are many wonderful things about it. It has been a conservative place, but things are beginning to change and open. There are two major universities. I thought it was interesting, and maybe sign of the new times, that Ann Coulter pretty much flopped when she spoke at Xavier University. Her kind of of superhot rhetoric just seemed to have fizzled.