(NEXSTAR) — As weird as it may seem, new towns are still being formed in the U.S. But when it comes to crowning the newest city in the country, it depends on what you consider “new.”
In most states, to be considered a city, a community needs at least 1,000 to 2,000 people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Most also require approval to incorporate from voters.
For example, voters in November 2021 granted approval for Essex Junction, Vermont, to separate from the town of Essex and become a city, which it officially did in July 2022. Essex Junction, home to roughly 10,000 people, isn’t exactly new, though: it was incorporated as a village in 1892, according to News 2’s sister station, WFFF.
There’s also Erda, Utah, which became the state’s newest city in January 2022, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Voters approved the city’s boundaries in 2020 and elected its first city council in 2021.
But Erda, home to about 3,000, existed for decades before receiving cityhood. Previously considered a Census Designated Place and a township, Erda has been home to residents since the 1800s, locals told The Salt Lake Tribune in 2005.
Voters decided to incorporate Ellinger, Texas in 2020, and Mableton, Georgia in 2022, but, again, both cities have roots dating back to the 1800s. Gluckstadt, Mississippi and Loxley, Alabama were incorporated in 2021 but both were founded in the early 1900s.
If a city’s roots don’t matter to you, then Empire, Minnesota is likely to become the country’s newest city. Residents there are in the process of transitioning from a township to a city following an election approving the change in mid-February. Empire officially became the state’s newest city on March 1, the Star Tribune reports.
Residents told local news outlets they don’t expect Empire to change much with its cityhood – the community has, of course, been around since the 1850s.
A city in Florida stands separate from the aforementioned cities that have been around for decades.
Later this year, Westlake, located in Palm Beach County, will mark seven years of incorporation. According to the Sun Sentinel, the city was previously citrus groves and was able to establish thanks to a corporate backer, Minto Communities. But, just as you could argue the previously-mentioned locations aren’t new based on their historic presences, you could argue Westlake is a master-planned community, not a city.
It’s likely that, as more people continue to move to undeveloped areas in states like Utah and Idaho, even more new cities will appear in the coming years. But, it can take years — or even decades — for those to form, so stay tuned.