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The 25 Biggest US Cities in 1940 Compared to Today

The 25 Biggest US Cities in 1940 Compared to Today

If you’re curious about how American cities ranked shortly before the post-WWII baby boom, we’ve done the research for you. Here we’ve compiled a list of the 25 biggest US cities in 1940 by population and compared them to their rankings and populations today. We’ve also included the 1940 rankings and populations of the cities that are currently on the top 25 list that weren’t on it back then.

And, if you’d like to compare this list to the 25 biggest US cities in 1950, just follow the link, because we’ve done that too. There weren’t any major shake-ups among the most populous cities in the country in that 10-year time period. Several cities went up or down one place, and a few jumped two or three slots. The only two cities that fell off the top 25 list in that decade were Rochester, NY and Louisville, KY.

So, without further ado, here were the 25 biggest US cities in 1940 by population as compared to today.

Most Populous Cities in America in 1940

1. New York City – 1940 population: 7,454,995 – Rank today: 1; population ~8.4 million

2. Chicago, IL – 1940 population: 3,396,808 – Rank today: 3; population ~2.7 million

3. Philadelphia, PA – 1940 population: 1,931,334 – Rank today: 6; population ~1.6 million

4. Detroit, MI – 1940 population: 1,623,452 – Rank today: 23; population ~670,000

5. Los Angeles, CA – 1940 population: 1,504,277 – Rank today: 2; population ~4 million

6. Cleveland, OH – 1940 population: 878,336 – Rank today: 52; population ~383,000

7. Baltimore, MD – 1940 population: 859,100 – Rank today: 30; population ~602,000

8. St. Louis, MO – 1940 population: 816,048 – Rank today: 64; population ~302,000

9. Boston, MA – 1940 population: 770,816 – Rank today: 21; population ~695,000

10. Pittsburgh, PA – 1940 population: 671,659 – Rank today: 66; population ~300,000

11. Washington, DC – 1940 population: 663,091 – Rank today: 20; population ~703,000

12. San Francisco, CA – 1940 population: 634,536 – Rank today: 15; population ~885,000

13. Milwaukee, WI – 1940 population: 587,472 – Rank today: 31; population ~592,000

14. Buffalo, NY – 1940 population: 575,901 – Rank today: 83; population ~256,000

15. New Orleans, LA – 1940 population: 494,537 – Rank today: 50; population ~392,000

16. Minneapolis, MN – 1940 population: 492,370 – Rank today: 46; population ~426,000

17. Cincinnati, OH – 1940 population: 455,610 – Rank today: 65; population ~303,000

18. Newark, NJ – 1940 population: 429,760 – Rank today: 73; population ~283,000

19. Kansas City, MO – 1940 population: 399,178 – Rank today: 38; population ~493,000

20. Indianapolis, IN – 1940 population: 386,972 – Rank today: 17; population ~868,000

21. Houston, TX – 1940 population: 384,514 – Rank today: 4; population ~2.4 million

22. Seattle, WA – 1940 population: 368,302 – Rank today: 18; population ~746,000

23. Rochester, NY – 1940 population: 324,975 – Rank today: 111; population ~206,000

24. Denver, CO – 1940 population: 322,412 – Rank today: 19; population ~718,000

25. Louisville, KY – 1940 population: 319,077 – Rank today: 29; population ~ 618,000

Top 25 US Cities Today that Didn’t Make the Cut in 1940

A number of US cities in the top 25 most populous today didn’t register on the list back in 1940. These include:

  • Phoenix, AZ – Rank today: 5; population ~1.7 million – Rank in 1940: Phoenix didn’t even crack the top 100 in 1940; population: 65,414
  • San Diego, CA – Rank today: 8; population ~1.5 million – Rank in 1940: 43; population: 203,341
  • San Jose, CA – Rank today: 10; population: ~1.1 million – Rank in 1940: Google doesn’t even turn up population data for San Jose back to 1940.
  • Austin, TX – Rank today: 11; population: ~966,000 – Rank in 1940: 101; population: 87,930
  • Jacksonville, FL – Rank today: 12; population: ~905,000 – Rank in 1940: 47; population: 173,065
  • Fort Worth, TX – Rank today: 13; population: ~896,000 – Rank in 1940: 46; population: 177,662
  • Columbus, OH – Rank today: 14; population: ~894,000 – Rank in 1940: 26; population: 306,087
  • Charlotte, NC – Rank today: 16; population: ~873,000 – Rank in 1940: 91; population: 100,899
  • El Paso, TX – Rank today: 22; population: ~683,000 – Rank in 1940: 98; population: 96,810
  • Nashville, TN – Rank today: 24; population: ~670,000 – Rank in 1940: 50; population: 167,402
  • Portland, OR – Rank today: 25; population: ~655,000 – Rank in 1940: 27; population: 305,394

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Rebarreling a Winchester Model 70 by Bill Marr

Originally introduced in 1936, the Winchester Model 70 is an icon of the American rifle market.  The two most notable features of the original Model 70 were it’s three position safety and non-rotating controlled round feed extractor.
In 1964, Winchester redesigned the rifle and changed it from controlled to push feed.  These newer Model 70s, known as “post-64” rifles, were produced until 2006.  Frowned upon by the pre-64 Model 70 fans for its less refined construction and lack of controlled round feed, the post-64 Model 70s can serve the rifleman well.
My friend brought over his post-64 Model 70 243 Winchester rifle.  The gun spent most of its life serving an across-the-course high power rifle shooter.  The mix of the overbore 243 Winchester cartridge, years of competitive use, and high round count resulted in a shot out barrel.
He didn’t have a new barrel blank, however, he did have an old factory take-off Remington 308 Varmint barrel to install.  Taking a quick look at the barrel and action, it looked like the project would work, so we decided to give it a shot.  REMchester anyone?
The contents of are produced for informational purposes only and should be performed by competent gunsmiths only. and its authors, do not assume any responsibility, directly or indirectly for the safety of the readers attempting to follow any instructions or perform any of the tasks shown, or the use or misuse of any information contained herein, on this website.
Any modifications made to a firearm should be made by a licensed gunsmith. Failure to do so may void warranties and result in an unsafe firearm and may cause injury or death.
Modifications to a firearm may result in personal injury or death, cause the firearm to not function properly, or malfunction, and cause the firearm to become unsafe.
For use in this project, the following items were ordered from Brownells:

All lathe work is conducted on a Grizzly gunsmith’s lathe.
rosin on barrel
Before we can install a new barrel the old one needs to be removed.  On this rifle, the threads were soaked in Kroil (a penetrating oil that is an essential item for gunsmithing) for a couple of days to make removal easier.  The outside of the barrel is coated in rosin to prevent it from rotating in the barrel vise.
barrel vise insert on barrel
The Brownells barrel vise we’ll be using to remove the barrel from this action holds barrels with interchangeable aluminum bushings to match different barrel shank diameters.
barrel wrench on action
The barrel is secured in the vise and an action wrench is used to unscrew the action.  It is important to make sure the action wrench fits well against the action.
In this case I am using the Brownells action wrench with the universal jaw.  It grabs the flat bottom of the front of the Winchester action.
view of barrel secured in vise with shims
Note the tight fit of the bushing against the barrel.
measuring factory tenon
The factory barrel tenon is measured to determine it’s length and headspace.
checking factory threads
A quick check with the thread pitch gauge confirms the threads are 16 teeth per inch.
measuring action
The action is also measured with a depth micrometer to check the barrel tenon dimensions.  This serves as a check against the dimensions recorded from the factory barrel tenon.
Remington barrel tenon next to Winchester barrel tenon
The factory Remington barrel tenon (left) compared to the factory Winchester tenon (right).  The Remington tenon is longer, has 1 1/16″-16 threads and a .150″ deep bolt nose recess on its face.  The shorter Winchester tenon has 1″-16 threads and no counterbore.
cutting off end of barrel
Barrel tenon’s dimensions in hand, we can start fitting the barrel.
The first step is to remove the old tenon.  I like to use a cold saw.  A cold saw is basically a miter box for steel, the one I have uses a special carbide blade.  It makes short work of barrels, gives a fairly smooth finish, and does not induce heat into the part.
dialing in barrel
The barrel is mounted in the lathe.  Since we only removed the threads from the barrel, the front part of the chamber is still in the barrel.  A dial indicator is used to dial the barrel in on the lathe.
facing barrel in lathe
A facing cut is made across the breech end of the barrel with the high-speed steel 135-degree profile tool.
cutting tenon on barrel
The tenon is cut to length and diameter.  This cut was made with a 135-degree high-speed steel profile tool.
dykem and chamfer
The tenon is coated in Dykem and the end chamfered.
insert tooling comparison
Since I’m threading against the shoulder, I decided to use a lay down carbide threader (left), instead of the high-speed steel insert threader I normally use (right).  Comparing the shapes, the carbide tool can cut closer to the shoulder.
threading barrel tenon
While I normally prefer using the high-speed steel cutter, the carbide does work well.
test fitting action on barrel
A test fit shows the action can screw snugly against the barrel tenon.
chambering set up 2
The chamber is now cut with a Manson live pilot reamer.  The reamer is fed with a MT3 blank held in the tailstock.  This pusher set up allows the reamer to float in the bore and follow what remains of the factory chamber.
measuring headsace with micrometer
The headspace is initially checked with the go gauge and a depth micrometer.
feeler gauge for measuring headspace
As the headspace gets closer to the final dimensions, it can be measured with feeler gauges measuring the space between the bolt and action screwed onto the barrel with the go gauge in place.
finsished chamber
A view of the tenon after the chamber has been cut to depth.
botl closes on go and not nogo
The bolt handle should close easily on go gauge, and stay open on the nogo gauge (above).
radius cut on barrle to help feed
The last step is to cut a small radius on the end of the chamber to aid in feeding.
reinstalling the barrel
The barrel can now be installed on the action.  For this task the barrel is secured in a barrel vise and the action wrench is used to torque the action on.
headspacing Wicnhester closes on 1.630 not on 1.631
One last headspace check.  For final inspection I use a .001″ match headspace gauge set.  In this case, the bolt closes easily on the 1.630″ gauge (SAAMI minimum) and stays open on the 1.631″ gauge (.001″ over SAAMI minimum)- the rifle is chambered to minimum headspace.
winchester barreled action next to old barrelIMG_9274
The assembled rifle looks good pretty good.  One day we will do something about the green paint on the barrel.
The real question is how does it shoot?  When he headed to the range with the REMchester, the first few groups weren’t too shabby!165 grain Sierra GameKing over Varget, looks like a keeper!
remchester 308 rebarrel group
A 200 yard ladder test with the 165 grain Sierra GameKing and H4895 showed promise as well (below).
165 SGK 200 yard ladder test
The project came along better than we had expected.  What a great way to give new life to a worn out rifle and keep a used barrel from ending up in the scrap bin.


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