Small Missouri town becomes new center of U.S. population
March 24th, 2011
03:58 PM ET

Small Missouri town becomes new center of U.S. population

Plato, Missouri, population 109, is the new geographic center of the population of the United States.

Special coverage: Census in America

U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves congratulated the southeast Missouri town during a news conference Thursday.

"2010 is a special decade in our nation’s history," Groves said. "The center of the population has moved in a southerly direction in the most extreme way we've ever seen."

The Census Bureau calculates the center of population after each decennial census. It determines the center based on where an "imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly" if all 308,745,538 residents weighed the same amounts.

The center has been located in Missouri since the 1980 census. In 2000, the center was a few miles outside Edgar Springs, Missouri, a town of 190 people in the center of Phelps County.

The center has gradually drifted west and south as territories were added and as people moved. The center was first calculated after the 1790 census, when the center of population was in Kent County, Maryland, some 23 miles east of Baltimore. By 1900, it was Bartholomew County, Indiana, about six miles southeast of Columbus, Indiana.

Groves attributed the southerly drift - 23.4 miles from 2000 center - to population growth in Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.

Plato, located in Texas County, doesn't reflect the demographic breakdown of the rest of the United States, Groves said. Its residents are 95% non-Hispanic white, 2% are African-American and 4.6% are Hispanic (reflecting some overlap in reporting on census forms).

U.S. Hispanic population expected to exceed 50 million

Groves said the Census Bureau will present Plato with a marker to display this once-a-decade honor.

Have you been to Plato? Send us your photos, videos and memories from the new geographic center of the population for iReport.

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Filed under: Census • Missouri
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. tim

    well, i saw a ghostface show in omaha recently and it was 100% awesome, and I'm sure he will agree. so, have fun being an idiot.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:01 am | Report abuse |
  2. tim

    shut your mouth.

    March 25, 2011 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
  3. focker1

    plato missouri, population 109.... one big happy family!

    March 25, 2011 at 2:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. real news

    most pointless article ever?

    March 25, 2011 at 3:05 am | Report abuse |
    • CClark

      Yeah i live in plato and its not so pointless for us

      May 12, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. anonymous

    What's the point of this article???

    March 25, 2011 at 3:11 am | Report abuse |
  6. gandalf101

    without the wet backs it would be in virginia

    March 25, 2011 at 3:11 am | Report abuse |
    • herbert juarez

      si amigo

      March 25, 2011 at 4:20 am | Report abuse |
  7. Paul

    U guys r all idiots

    March 25, 2011 at 3:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. kazper

    Great now the terrorist will know what place to hit with their wmds, now knowing where the balance of the US is. Guess there's going to be one less family name to remember.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. herbert juarez


    March 25, 2011 at 4:17 am | Report abuse |
  10. fearlessdude

    "It determines the center based on where an "imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly" if all 308,745,538 residents weighed the same amounts."
    ncorrect statement; a person in California would balance out two persons in New York because of the distances to the "center" involved.
    The correct definition should be: There are equal number of people located to the West, to the East, to the North and to the South of the center: 154,372,769 or half of the population.

    March 25, 2011 at 4:23 am | Report abuse |
    • Prashant

      I second it!

      May 17, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. LOW LYF


    March 25, 2011 at 6:04 am | Report abuse |
  12. Tony

    Ok, so first I heard Meredith Whitney on wall street: we talk about emerging markets as places in Asia... and that there are other emerging markets that people never think of: oklahoma, texas, iowa, and that they will enjoy growth at rates that could only be only expected from 'emerging markets.'

    Then I saw this article here and I thought of that speech at the end of Field of Dreams, and I thought it's true: people will come. Here's the excerpt, it is going to come true, the American dream of past generations will pass away and come back to life in places like Iowa:

    Mann: Ray, people will come, Ray. They'll come to Iowa for reasons they can't even fathom. They'll turn up your driveway, not knowing for sure why they're doing it. They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. "Of course, we won't mind if you have a look around," you'll say. "It's only twenty dollars per person." They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it; for it is money they have and peace they lack.

    Mark: Ray, just sign the papers.

    Mann: And they'll walk out to the bleachers, and sit in shirt-sleeves on a perfect afternoon. They'll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they'll watch the game, and it'll be as if they'd dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they'll have to brush them away from their faces.

    March 25, 2011 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ron Campos

    Hey, I was an exchange student in Missouri. I love Missouri, I love the USA.
    The land of the free and home of the brave!

    April 5, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • tabby

      You rock Ron

      May 12, 2011 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ron Campos

    It is normal in history to confront certain opposition. It happened to the Germans, Irish, Italians. It is part of the American History. I love America!!!

    April 5, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Teaparty matingagenda

    tea party european males.. Prefer ethnic brides.. Why? Cost effective control and shelter from business lawsuits.. Pretty clever eh? Its not the usual minority front..its fool proof.

    April 14, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
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