NOAA, Census mark the new U.S. center of population

Photo showing The tip of a tripod resting on the center of the 2020 Center of Population Commemorative Survey mark, as part of a GPS survey to determine the precise latitude, longitude, and height of the mark in Hartville, Missouri.
The tip of a tripod resting on the center of the 2020 Center of Population Commemorative Survey mark, as part of a GPS survey to determine the precise latitude, longitude, and height of the mark in Hartville, Missouri. (NOAA)

Today, NOAA and the U.S. Census Bureau will mark the new U.S. center of population. 

Hartville, a town of about 600 people in central southern Missouri, is the town closest to the point where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if everyone in the country were of identical weight. This “center” point represents the average location of where people in the U.S. live. The designated location is based on data from the 2020 Census

“The 2020 Center of Population commemorative mark is a tribute to Hartville, the surveying community and the science of geodesy,” said Juliana Blackwell, Director of NOAA's National Geodetic Survey (NGS), the science team in charge of locating the center. “The commemorative mark represents the latest stop on the center of population trail, and its exact location and coordinates will be added into the National Spatial Reference System for use by surveyors, geocachers and geospatial enthusiasts for decades to come.”

NGS is the U.S. government’s authoritative source for precise latitude, longitude and elevation measurements. The U.S. Census Bureau and NOAA worked together to pinpoint the location of the center of population, using both land data and population numbers. 

The center of population helps surveyors and demographers quantify how fast and in what direction the U.S. population is moving over time. The U.S. Census Bureau calculates the location every 10 years following the national census. The first U.S. center of population was Kent County, Maryland, 23 miles east of Baltimore, in 1790. 

NOAA began commemorating the national centers of population with geodetic survey marks in 1960, and five towns in Missouri have been designated as centers of population since 1980. The centers form a kind of informal trail that illustrates the changing dynamics of the country. 

The Center of Population Celebration begins at 4:30 pm CT today at Hartville City Park, Steele Bluff Road, Hartville, Missouri, and is free and open to the public. 

Today’s celebration will include remarks from local, state and federal leaders as well as musical performances from Aaron McDaris, banjo player and member of Grammy Award-winning band Rhonda Vincent and The Rage, and singer Cheryl Brown, who will lead the Hartville High School Choir in an original song regarding the town’s new designation. 


 

Media contacts

Reporters who are interested in attending or conducting interviews on NGS and its work on the Center of Population should contact Alison Gillespie (202-713-6644 or alison.gillespie@noaa.gov). 

Reporters interested in conducting interviews on the 2020 Center of Population and other Census Bureau data should contact the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office (301-763-3030/877-866-2010 or pio@census.gov ).