New York and Los Angeles are two of the largest and most iconic cities in the United States. People often wonder how they compare in terms of size and population. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Yes, Los Angeles is geographically bigger than New York City in terms of land area, but New York has a larger population than Los Angeles.

In this comprehensive article, we will analyze and compare the land area, population, economy, and development between New York City and Los Angeles. We will look at the historical growth and expansion of these cities over time. Key factors such as geographic constraints, transportation networks, zoning policies, and more will be explored to understand how these cities became so massive in their own right.

Geographic Size and Land Area

When comparing the sizes of Los Angeles and New York, it is important to consider their respective land areas. Los Angeles and New York are both known for their vastness, but which city is truly bigger in terms of geographic size?

Total Land Area

Los Angeles has a total land area of approximately 1,302 square kilometers, making it the second-largest city in the United States after New York. On the other hand, New York City has a total land area of about 783 square kilometers.

So, in terms of total land area, Los Angeles is indeed bigger than New York.

Urbanized Area

When it comes to the urbanized areas, which include the surrounding suburbs and metropolitan regions, Los Angeles and New York both have expansive urban landscapes. Los Angeles is known for its sprawling neighborhoods and suburbs that cover a vast area, while New York City is famous for its dense cityscape and high-rise buildings.

In terms of the urbanized area, New York City is considered larger than Los Angeles. The New York metropolitan area extends across several counties in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, covering a total area of approximately 13,318 square kilometers.

On the other hand, the Los Angeles metropolitan area covers around 12,562 square kilometers.

Geographic Constraints and Expansion

Both Los Angeles and New York face geographic constraints that affect their ability to expand. In Los Angeles, the city is surrounded by mountains and the Pacific Ocean, limiting its potential for outward expansion. This has led to a denser urban landscape and a greater emphasis on vertical growth.

New York City also faces geographic constraints, with the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Hudson River to the west. However, the city has managed to expand by building on landfills and developing areas such as Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn and Queens.

It is worth noting that while Los Angeles may have a larger total land area, New York City has a higher population density. This is due to the vertical nature of New York City, with its numerous high-rise buildings and densely populated neighborhoods.

Population and Density

Total Population

When comparing the population of Los Angeles and New York, it is important to note that both cities are highly populated and rank among the top cities in the United States. According to the latest data, New York City has a total population of approximately 8.4 million people, making it the most populous city in the country.

On the other hand, Los Angeles is the second most populous city with a population of around 3.9 million people. While New York City has a larger overall population, it is worth noting that the population of the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area is much larger, with over 18 million people.

Population Density

When it comes to population density, New York City takes the lead. The city is known for its high-rise buildings and crowded streets, which contribute to its dense population. With approximately 27,000 people per square mile, New York City is one of the most densely populated cities in the world.

Los Angeles, on the other hand, has a lower population density, with around 8,400 people per square mile. This can be attributed to the city’s larger land area and its suburban neighborhoods, which are less densely populated compared to the urban areas.

Population Growth Trends

Both Los Angeles and New York City have experienced steady population growth over the years. However, the growth trends differ between the two cities. New York City has seen a relatively slow but steady increase in population, with a growth rate of around 0.5% per year.

On the other hand, Los Angeles has experienced a higher population growth rate, averaging around 1.0% per year. This can be attributed to factors such as immigration, job opportunities, and the city’s appeal as a cultural and entertainment hub.

It is important to note that population data can change over time, so it is always recommended to refer to the latest official sources for the most up-to-date information. Websites such as provide reliable and authoritative data on population statistics.

Economy and Industry


When it comes to comparing the economies of Los Angeles and New York, it’s important to consider the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of each city. According to recent data, New York City has a higher GDP compared to Los Angeles. In fact, New York City’s GDP is one of the highest in the world.

However, it’s worth noting that Los Angeles has been experiencing steady economic growth in recent years, with its GDP also on the rise.

Major Industries

Both Los Angeles and New York City are major hubs for various industries. In Los Angeles, the entertainment industry plays a significant role in driving the economy. The city is home to Hollywood, which is known for its film and television production.

Additionally, Los Angeles has a thriving fashion industry and is a leader in the manufacturing of clothing and accessories.

On the other hand, New York City is renowned for its finance industry, with Wall Street being a prominent symbol of its economic prowess. The city is also a hub for media, advertising, and publishing. Furthermore, New York City has a thriving tourism industry, with millions of visitors each year.

Fortune 500 Companies

Both Los Angeles and New York City are home to several Fortune 500 companies. In Los Angeles, you can find companies like Walt Disney, Amgen, and Occidental Petroleum. These companies contribute significantly to the city’s economy and provide employment opportunities for its residents.

New York City, on the other hand, has a larger number of Fortune 500 companies due to its status as a global financial center. Some of the well-known companies based in New York City include JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Verizon Communications.

These companies not only have a major impact on the city’s economy but also play a significant role in shaping global financial markets.

For more information on the economy and industries of Los Angeles and New York City, you can visit the following websites:

Infrastructure and Transportation

When comparing the infrastructure and transportation systems of Los Angeles and New York, there are several key factors to consider. These include airports, public transit systems, and port infrastructure.


Both Los Angeles and New York are major international gateways, with multiple airports serving millions of passengers each year. In Los Angeles, the primary airport is the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), which is one of the busiest airports in the world.

LAX offers a wide range of domestic and international flights, connecting travelers to destinations around the globe. New York, on the other hand, has three major airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), LaGuardia Airport (LGA), and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).

These airports also handle a significant amount of air traffic and provide convenient access to the city for both domestic and international travelers.

Public Transit Systems

When it comes to public transit, both Los Angeles and New York have extensive networks, but they differ in terms of scale and efficiency. New York City’s subway system is renowned for its vast coverage and accessibility, with over 400 stations and multiple lines connecting the different boroughs.

The subway system is a crucial mode of transportation for millions of New Yorkers and visitors alike. Los Angeles, on the other hand, has a more limited public transit system, primarily consisting of buses and light rail lines.

However, in recent years, Los Angeles has made significant investments in expanding its public transit options, with the introduction of new subway and light rail lines. This has improved connectivity within the city and reduced reliance on cars.

Port Infrastructure

Both Los Angeles and New York have bustling ports that play a crucial role in international trade and commerce. The Port of Los Angeles is one of the busiest container ports in the United States, handling millions of containers annually.

It serves as a major gateway for goods coming from Asia and other parts of the world. The Port of New York and New Jersey is also a significant port, handling a large volume of cargo and serving as a key hub for the East Coast.

These ports contribute significantly to the local economy and support thousands of jobs.

Culture and Influence

Diverse Neighborhoods

Both Los Angeles and New York are known for their diverse neighborhoods, each with its own distinct culture and flavor. In Los Angeles, you’ll find neighborhoods like Chinatown, Little Tokyo, and Koreatown, which celebrate the rich heritage of these communities.

Similarly, New York City boasts iconic neighborhoods like Harlem, Little Italy, and Chinatown, where residents proudly showcase their cultural traditions.

The diversity in these cities not only adds to the cultural fabric but also creates opportunities for residents and visitors to experience different cuisines, languages, and customs. Whether you’re in Los Angeles or New York, exploring the neighborhoods is like taking a trip around the world without leaving the city.

Arts and Entertainment

When it comes to arts and entertainment, both Los Angeles and New York have a lot to offer. Los Angeles is widely recognized as the entertainment capital of the world, with Hollywood being the epicenter of the film and television industry.

The city is home to numerous production studios, theaters, and iconic landmarks like the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

New York City, on the other hand, is renowned for its vibrant theater scene, with Broadway being the pinnacle of live performances. From musicals to plays, New York City attracts some of the biggest talents in the world and offers a wide range of cultural experiences for theater enthusiasts.

Both cities also have thriving music scenes, with Los Angeles known for its influence in the music industry and New York City being a hub for various genres like jazz, hip-hop, and punk.

Global Branding

While both Los Angeles and New York City have a significant global presence, they often represent different industries and brands. Los Angeles, with its connection to Hollywood and the entertainment industry, has become synonymous with glamour, fame, and luxury.

The city is home to major film studios, celebrities, and high-end fashion houses.

On the other hand, New York City is known as the financial and business capital of the world. It is home to the New York Stock Exchange and some of the most influential companies and brands in the world.

The city’s skyline, with iconic buildings like the Empire State Building and Wall Street, represents the power and influence of the global financial industry.

Both cities have a strong global impact in their respective fields, and their branding extends far beyond their borders, shaping how they are perceived worldwide.


In conclusion, while both New York and Los Angeles are massive and economically powerful metro areas, they have followed different growth trajectories constrained and shaped by geography, transportation, policies, and more. New York expanded vertically to accommodate more people, while Los Angeles sprawled outward over a vast land area.

Understanding how these two quintessential American cities have grown and competed over time gives insight into the interplay between economic forces, geography, politics, and culture in urban development.

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