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After the completion of the 1860 census and the election of President Abraham Lincoln, America imploded. Eleven southern states seceded from the Union in 1861, instigating four bloody years of the Civil War and fundamentally altering the social history of the U.S. The estimates of deaths caused by the Civil War begin around 600,000, but some claim as many as 750,000 individuals died throughout the conflict.

With so many families looking for a new start after combat finally ended and approximately 4 million Black Americans emancipated from slavery, it was time for many Americans to look for a new home to put down roots. The obvious choice for many was to move west, where there was more land to buy, settle, and cultivate. Many traveled by covered wagon, spending months on the dusty trail. Others who could afford better accommodations took a 25-day ride by stagecoach. All of them picked new cities and towns to make their homes, spreading the U.S. population more evenly across different states and territories.

On May 10, 1869, the first transcontinental railroad route across the United States was completed, ushering in a new era of transportation. The project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget, though with the loss of many lives, including those of the many Irish and Chinese immigrants hired to work 12-hour days in the hot western sun. Riding by steam engine, passengers could cross the entire country in four days, enabling waves of Americans and immigrants to quickly occupy land that would otherwise take months to settle.

The years of Civil War reconstruction, coupled with wagon, stagecoach, and railroad passengers finding new lives across the U.S., made the urban development reflected in the 1870 census incredibly interesting. Stacker compiled a list of the biggest cities in Massachusetts from 150 years ago using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. By transcribing Table XXV of the Ninth Census of the U.S., which was previously only available as a PDF, it’s easy to explore what the urban landscape looked like less than a decade after the end of the Civil War as America healed and grew.

The largest city in Massachusetts ranked #7 among all cities nationwide in 1870. Of the 100 largest cities in the U.S., 14 were in Massachusetts. Keep reading to find out more about the historic metropolitan landscape in your home state or check out the data on your own on our site, GitHub, or data.world.

You may also like: Counties with the most born-and-bred residents in Massachusetts

Lewis Hine // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Chicopee, Hampden County

– Total population: 9,607 (#194 nationwide)
— Male population: 4,284
— Female population: 5,323
— Child population, ages 5-18: 2,666

Bettmann // Getty Images

#24. Milford, Worchester County

– Total population: 9,890 (#188 nationwide)
— Male population: 4,970
— Female population: 4,920
— Child population, ages 5-18: 2,845

Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#23. Northampton, Hampshire County

– Total population: 10,160 (#176 nationwide)
— Male population: 4,860
— Female population: 5,300
— Child population, ages 5-18: 2,556

Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#22. Holyoke, Hampden County

– Total population: 10,733 (#160 nationwide)
— Male population: 4,856
— Female population: 5,877
— Child population, ages 5-18: 3,054

Detroit Publishing Company // Library of Congress

#21. Pittsfield, Berkshire County

– Total population: 11,112 (#149 nationwide)
— Male population: 5,288
— Female population: 5,824
— Child population, ages 5-18: 3,137

USC Libraries/Corbis via Getty Images

#20. Fitchburg, Worchester County

– Total population: 11,260 (#147 nationwide)
— Male population: 5,663
— Female population: 5,597
— Child population, ages 5-18: 2,827

Detroit Publishing Company // Library of Congress

#19. Adams, Berkshire County

– Total population: 12,090 (#139 nationwide)
— Male population: 6,063
— Female population: 6,027
— Child population, ages 5-18: 3,233

Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#18. Newburyport, Essex County

– Total population: 12,595 (#129 nationwide)
— Male population: 5,646
— Female population: 6,949
— Child population, ages 5-18: 3,179

Bettmann // Getty Images

#17. Newton, Middlesex County

– Total population: 12,825 (#122 nationwide)
— Male population: 5,973
— Female population: 6,852
— Child population, ages 5-18: 3,383

Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#16. Haverhill, Essex County

– Total population: 13,092 (#118 nationwide)
— Male population: 6,393
— Female population: 6,699
— Child population, ages 5-18: 3,037

Minnesota Historical Society/Corbis via Getty Images

#15. Somerville, Middlesex County

– Total population: 14,685 (#106 nationwide)
— Male population: 7,295
— Female population: 7,390
— Child population, ages 5-18: 3,866

Minnesota Historical Society/Corbis via Getty Images

#14. Gloucester, Essex County

– Total population: 15,389 (#100 nationwide)
— Male population: 7,878
— Female population: 7,511
— Child population, ages 5-18: 3,955

Minnesota Historical Society/Corbis via Getty Images

#13. Chelsea, Suffolk County

– Total population: 18,547 (#82 nationwide)
— Male population: 8,652
— Female population: 9,895
— Child population, ages 5-18: 4,693

Harvey Porch/Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#12. Taunton, Bristol County

– Total population: 18,629 (#81 nationwide)
— Male population: 9,124
— Female population: 9,505
— Child population, ages 5-18: 4,782

Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#11. New Bedford, Bristol County

– Total population: 21,320 (#64 nationwide)
— Male population: 9,880
— Female population: 11,440
— Child population, ages 5-18: 5,320

Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images

#10. Salem, Essex County

– Total population: 24,117 (#54 nationwide)
— Male population: 10,940
— Female population: 13,177
— Child population, ages 5-18: 6,102

Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#9. Springfield, Hampden County

– Total population: 26,703 (#51 nationwide)
— Male population: 12,894
— Female population: 13,809
— Child population, ages 5-18: 6,347

Bettmann // Getty Images

#8. Fall River, Bristol County

– Total population: 26,766 (#50 nationwide)
— Male population: 12,652
— Female population: 14,114
— Child population, ages 5-18: 7,567

Alexander Alland, Sr./Corbis via Getty Images

#7. Lynn, Essex County

– Total population: 28,233 (#49 nationwide)
— Male population: 13,472
— Female population: 14,761
— Child population, ages 5-18: 6,851

Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#6. Charlestown, Middlesex County

– Total population: 28,323 (#47 nationwide)
— Male population: 13,931
— Female population: 14,302
— Child population, ages 5-18: 6,875

Vintage Images // Getty Images

#5. Lawrence, Essex County

– Total population: 28,921 (#45 nationwide)
— Male population: 12,618
— Female population: 16,303
— Child population, ages 5-18: 7,347

American Stock/ClassicStock // Getty Images

#4. Cambridge, Middlesex County

– Total population: 39,634 (#33 nationwide)
— Male population: 19,356
— Female population: 20,278
— Child population, ages 5-18: 9,603

Chicago History Museum // Getty Images

#3. Lowell, Middlesex County

– Total population: 40,928 (#31 nationwide)
— Male population: 17,494
— Female population: 23,434
— Child population, ages 5-18: 9,439

H. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock // Getty Images

#2. Worcester, Worchester County

– Total population: 41,105 (#30 nationwide)
— Male population: 20,405
— Female population: 20,700
— Child population, ages 5-18: 9,824

Bildagentur-online/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#1. Boston, Suffolk County

– Total population: 250,526 (#7 nationwide)
— Male population: 119,917
— Female population: 130,609
— Child population, ages 5-18: 60,772

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This story was written by Stacker and has been re-published pursuant to a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

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Stacker

This story was written by Stacker and has been re-published pursuant to a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.

Founded in 2017, Stacker combines data analysis with rich editorial context, drawing on authoritative sources and subject matter experts to drive storytelling.