aerial view of downtown chicago

Is Chicago Bigger Than New York? Size Comparison

Last updated on September 22nd, 2023 at 01:23 pm

In this size comparison guide, you will find out if Chicago is bigger than New York by looking at the following 9 topics.

  1. Land area
  2. Population
  3. Infrastructure
  4. Sports
  5. Economy
  6. Outdoor attractions
  7. Airports
  8. Cost of living
  9. Education
Lincoln Park, Chicago
Lincoln Park, Chicago

Is Chicago Bigger Than New York? Size Comparison

As two of the United States’ largest and most popular cities, Chicago and New York City are often thought of similarly. Many people even think of them as the same size.

However, these two cities are quite different, and although Chicago is a large city, New York is, in many ways, much bigger.

1. Land Area

Chicago is located in Illinois and is the most populous city in the state, although it’s not the capital. It sits on the shores of Lake Michigan and has one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. The city has a total land area of 234.53 square miles, of which 6.8 are water.

Like Chicago, New York City is the most populous city in its state, New York, but it is not the capital. Instead, the city is situated on a harbor, named for the city and state, on the Atlantic Ocean, and it’s made up of five distinct boroughs.

New York covers 472.43 square miles, and about 171.97 square miles is water.

New York City from the sky
New York City

2. Population

As mentioned above, Chicago has the highest population in the state of Illinois and has the third-largest population in the country. The city itself is home to about 2,700,000 people, while the metro area is home to approximately 9,618,500 people.

As a result, the city has a high population density of about 3,709 people per square mile.

New York City is the most populous city in the U.S., and its population is larger than the total population of 38 U.S. states. The city is home to about 8,800,000 people, and the metropolitan area is home to approximately 20,140,470 people.

New York has an urban population density of about 5,980 people per square mile.

chicago vs new york population chart

3. Infrastructure

New York is known for its excellent and extensive transportation options. Although several major roads and highways crisscross the city, other forms of transportation are often more popular. The city has a sizeable public subway, bus, and many cab or ride-share options.

Walking and bike riding are also popular.

Chicago also has an extensive highway system, but most people prefer other forms of transportation. The city is famous for the Chicago L, a comprehensive underground and elevated rapid transit system.

In addition, a passenger rail, bus systems, and plenty of opportunities to walk or ride a bike make it easy to get around Chicago.

Chicago Transit Authority train at daytime
Chicago Transit Authority – image credit: teamtime @

4. Sports

Sports are popular in New York, and the city is home to several well-known and very successful professional sports teams.

It has two NFL teams, the New York Jets and the New York Giants, two professional baseball teams, the New York Mets and the New York Yankees, and two professional hockey teams, the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders.

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In addition, there are two professional basketball teams, the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets, and a professional women’s basketball team, the New York Liberty. New York also has three professional soccer teams.

Chicago also takes sports seriously. It’s perhaps most known for its two professional baseball teams, the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox. The Cubs have played in the city since 1871, making them the oldest major league team to have never switched cities.

Chicago also has a professional football team, the Chicago Bears, an NBA team, the Chicago Bulls, and a professional hockey team, the Chicago Blackhawks.

Aerial image Yankee Stadium NY
Yankee Stadium NY

5. Economy

New York has one of the largest economies in the world and the largest metropolitan economy. It’s home to a record number of billionaires and millionaires. It’s a world hub for commerce and business and is a popular place for investors.

Some of New York’s biggest industries are healthcare, finance, world trade, media, theater, and tourism. Many Fortune 500 companies are located within the city.

Chicago also has a strong, incredibly diverse economy. No one industry is the leader of Chicago’s economy, but the city is home to several Fortune 500 companies, including Kraft Heinz, McDonald’s, Sears, and Conagra Brands.

handshake - world trade agreements

6. Outdoor Attractions

There are many things to see and do outside in New York. The city is known for its many historic landmarks and striking and often historic architecture.

New York also has many public parks, including Central Park, which hosts a range of outdoor activities, ranging from summer concerts to ice skating in the winter.

Chicago is sometimes known as the city in a Garden, offering more than 570 parks. The city also has 31 sand beaches and 50 nature areas. Visitors can also stroll along the historic, tree-lined boulevard system that connects several of the city’s parks and green spaces.

Central park at sunny day, New York City
Central park, New York City

7. Airports

New York has some of the busiest air corridors in the world, and the city is home to three large airports. John F. Kennedy International Airport and New Liberty International Airport serve flights coming and going from around the world, while LaGuardia Airport serves mainly domestic flights.

Chicago has two large international airports, called O’Hare International and Midway International. The city is also the headquarters for United Airlines.

passengers walking through O'Hare airport, Chicago
O’Hare airport, Chicago

8. Cost of Living

New York is among the most expensive places to live in the U.S. and the world. A single person can expect to spend about $1,370 monthly on living expenses that don’t include rent or a mortgage. Housing is also costly, and the average price for a studio apartment is $3,425 per month.

Not including rent, a single person can expect to spend about $1,150 monthly on living expenses in Chicago. The average rent per month for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,825.

cost of living chart Chicago vs New York

9. Education

New York is well-known for its top-notch school options. Colleges and universities such as NYU, Cornell Tech, and The Julliard School are some of the best in the world. The city also provides extensive public school systems for elementary, middle, and high schools, serving about 1 million students.

Chicago also has an extensive public school system with over 600 elementary and high schools. The city also offers several world-class colleges and universities, including Northwestern University, Illinois Tech, DePaul University, and the University of Chicago.

university of chicago campus

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