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California State Data Center

Historical Census Populations of Counties and Incorporated Cities in California, 1850–2010

August 2011 (Original Release)
June 2012 (revision)
March 2013 (correction 1860 - two cities)


This report provides total population counts for the state, counties, and incorporated cities in California from seventeen decennial U.S. censuses, 1850–2010.

Report Footnotes

n/a Data could not be found in historical census publications.

  1. City incorporation or county formation date. Some cities were formed, but later were disincorporated and then reincorporated. These dates are flagged with: "i" original incorporation; "d" disincorporation; and "ri" reincorporation.
  2. City was disincorporated at this time.
  3. Census 2000 counts include changes from the Count Question Resolution program. Historical data may not match data published in Census 2000 reports.

Notes and Caveats

Additional information, such as a name change, is provided as a cell “comment” in Excel, indicated with a red triangle in the upper right corner of a cell. Users with Microsoft Excel-compatible spreadsheet programs should be able to access these comments.

Data provided here are the decennial census counts for a geographic area (county or city) ONLY if it existed at the time of that particular census as an official, legal jurisdiction. Some cities existed as a Census Designated Place (CDP) before incorporation. Data for the CDP are not provided here, even if the CDP has the same name as the city, because it cannot be guaranteed that the city incorporated just the area within the CDP.

To the best of our knowledge, this report includes data for any city that has been incorporated in California. However, some cities were incorporated for only a short time and no longer exist. Other cities, such as Stanton in Orange County, were incorporated, then disincorporated, and then reincorporated years later. For each city and county, the year of incorporation or county formation is provided. If the city disincorporated or reincorporated, the years are flagged with "i" original incorporation; "d" disincorporation; and "ri" reincorporation.

Although they may have historically been part of another county, cities are listed in the current county in which they are located. For example, Anaheim is now in Orange County, but originally the territory of Orange County was part of Los Angeles County.

Counties and cities are listed under their current name. Over time, a city may have changed its name. For example, the City of Colma is listed under its current name, not under the name of Lawndale, as it was originally incorporated.

Boundaries of counties and incorporated cities are well-defined, but they are not constant. Therefore, population change over time in a given jurisdiction may reflect not only population growth, but a change in land area. This is particularly true for counties prior to the 1910 census. County boundaries in California have had only minor changes since the formation of Imperial County in 1907. However, from 1850 to 1907 there was a lot of change in county boundaries and names. One county in northern California, Klamath, was abolished in 1875 when its territory was divided between neighboring counties. For a complete history of county formation, see the California State Association of Counties website.

Prior to the 1900 Census, publications did not tabulate data for all incorporated cities. The Census Bureau had minimum population thresholds for listing places, usually 1,000 or 2,500, depending on the particular census. Consequently early data for numerous smaller cities are not available. In addition, early census reports used the sub-county geography of “township.” A township typically included a city and the surrounding territory. In these cases, population counts for the city could not be separated from the township and therefore, are not presented here.

Only population counts from the U.S. decennial censuses are listed. Special censuses, conducted by either the U.S. Census Bureau or the state, have been omitted. In Census 2000, the population counts provided may be the corrected or revised totals. These corrections were made post-publication, so data here may not match Census 2000 printed reports.

Comments and suggestions? Please e-mail ficalpop@dof.ca.gov.