ST. LOUIS – The ‘heart’ of America is near Hartville, Missouri according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The town of 600 is in central southern Missouri.
The U.S. Census Bureau says the center of population for the United States is 15 miles from Hartville based on the 2020 Census population of 331.4 million.
Every 10 years the Census Bureau calculated the “center of population” which is an imaginary, flat, weightless, and rigid map of the United States that would balance perfectly if everyone were of identical weight. This point represents the average location of where people in the United States live.
Hartville Mayor Rob Tucker was excited to hear his town named as the 2020 Center of Population. “It’s a great feeling to live in Hartville. It has always been a town with a big heart and is now the heart of America.”
The centers help surveyors and demographers quantify how fast and in what direction the U.S. population is moving over time.
The first published calculation of the center of population was in 1790, when it was recorded as Kent County, Maryland, 23 miles east of Baltimore.
Towns in Missouri have been the population centers since 1980. The largest movements by miles were between 1850 and 1890, when events like the Gold Rush in California and land speculation in Oklahoma helped spread people farther west.
“The movement of the center of population helps tell the story of this century’s migration South and West,” said Ron Jarmin, the Census Bureau’s acting director in a press release. “It helps visualize where we live.”
In addition to calculating a national center of population, the Census Bureau also calculates centers of population for each state, county, census tract and census block group. Coordinates for each of these locations can be found on the Center of Population webpage.
An event in the spring of 2022 will recognize Hartville as the center of population of the United States. The event will include an on-site unveiling of a commemorative survey monument. More details will be available in the coming months.