Largest City in Area in the United States

Yakutat Replaced Sitka, Which Replaced Juneau

Yakutat, Alaska
Yakutat, Alaska. Pexels

Although New York City is the most populous city in the United States, Yakutat, Alaska, is the largest city in area. Yakutat includes a whopping 9,459.28 square miles (24,499 sq km) of area, composed of 1,808.82 square miles of water area and 7,650.46 square miles of land area (4,684.8 sq km and 19,814.6 sq km, respectively). The city is larger than the state of New Hampshire (the country's fourth smallest state).

Yakutat had been founded in 1948, but in 1992 the city government was dissolved and it combined with the Yakutat Borough to become the country's largest city. It's now officially known as the City and Borough of Yakutat. 

Location

The city lies on the Gulf of Alaska near the Hubbard Glacier and is surrounded by or is nearby the Tongass National Forests, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Yakutat's skyline is dominated by Mount St. Elias, the United States' second tallest peak.

What Folks Do There

Yakutat has a population of 601 as of 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Fishing (both commercial and sport) is its largest industry. Many types of salmon inhabit the rivers and streams: steelhead, king (Chinook), sockeye, pink (humpback), and coho (silver).

Yakutat hosts a three-day annual tern festival in late May or early June, as the area has one of the largest breeding grounds for Aleutian terns.

The bird is uncommon and hasn't been studied extensively; its winter range wasn't even discovered until the 1980s. The festival features birding activities, Native cultural presentations, natural history field trips, art exhibits, and other events. The first Saturday in August is the annual Fairweather Day celebration, which is full of live music at Cannon Beach Pavilion.

People also come to the city for hiking, hunting (bears, mountain goats, ducks, and geese), and wildlife and nature viewing (moose, eagles, and bears), as the area is along migration patterns for waterfowl, raptors, and shorebirds. 

Displacing Other Cities

With its incorporation with the borough, Yakutat displaced Sitka, Alaska, as the largest city, which had displaced Juneau, Alaska. Sitka is 2,874 square miles (7,443.6 sq km) and Juneau is 2,717 square miles (7037 sq km). Sitka was the earliest large city, having been formed through incorporation of the borough and city in 1970.

Yakutat is a perfect example of an "overbounded" city, which refers to a city that has boundaries that extend far beyond its developed area (certainly the glaciers and ice fields in the city won't be developed soon).

Meanwhile, in the Lower 48

Jacksonville, in northeast Florida, is the largest city in area in the contiguous 48 states at 840 square miles (2,175.6 sq km). Jacksonville includes all of Duval County, Florida, with the exception of the beach communities (Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, and Jacksonville Beach) and Baldwin. It had a population of 880,619 as of 2016 U.S. Census Bureau estimates. Visitors can enjoy golf, beaches, waterways, the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, and acres and acres of parks (80,000 acres), as it has the largest network of urban parks in the country—more than 300.

 

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Rosenberg, Matt. "Largest City in Area in the United States." ThoughtCo, Feb. 13, 2018, thoughtco.com/largest-city-in-area-united-states-1435564. Rosenberg, Matt. (2018, February 13). Largest City in Area in the United States. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/largest-city-in-area-united-states-1435564 Rosenberg, Matt. "Largest City in Area in the United States." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/largest-city-in-area-united-states-1435564 (accessed April 25, 2018).