The Smallest Largest US County

Every one of the fifty United States has a largest county, albeit with some complexities[1]. Which of those largest counties is the smallest?

Providence Co., Rhode Island: 436 Square Miles



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Providence County, Rhode Island is the smallest of all counties that can be called the largest for a state. That’s not too hard to believe, correct? After all, Rhode Island is the smallest state and one would expect small counties to result almost by definition.

However, I’m going to have to throw down a flag and call a foul. Rhode Island doesn’t have counties. Well, it has things that are called counties for the purpose of the decennial census and for other Federal statistical reporting requirements, but they don’t function as counties. As the Office of the Secretary of State of Rhode Island freely admits, the county system was disestablished and has been replaced by 39 self-governing municipalities.

Sorry, Rhode Island, if you want this distinction you have to have "real" counties.


Allen Co., Indiana: 657 square miles



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Thus the "real" smallest largest county in the United States is Allen Co., Indiana. Fort Wayne is the county seat. The City of Fort Wayne Community Net website includes some interesting fun facts. I don’t really feel like confirming these independently but Fort Wayne claims to be "within a 250 miles radius of 17% of the total U.S. population, and within a days’ drive of half the nations’ population." How random is that?

As much as I love those kinds of claims, and you know I do, it’s not nearly as interesting as this one:

Overall ranking for the Fort Wayne Metropolitan Area was 150 out of the 200 largest metro areas in the index utilized by Forbes in year 2006 Best Places for Business and Careers report. The index weighs expenses related to labor, energy, taxes and office space. Job and income growth, migration patterns and crime rates are also factored in.

Huh? Are they saying what I think they’re saying? That 75% of all other major metropolitan areas are better than Fort Wayne? I can’t even imagine why they would put this on their website unless maybe they used to be a lot crappier and are showing signs of improvement. That’s inexplicable. They need to come up with an advertising claim than "We squeaked into the second quartile!"

I think they’d be better off publicizing the largest smallest county claim instead. I’d visit.

SEE RELATED TOPIC: The Largest Smallest US County.

[1] Yes, I realize there are parishes, boroughs, independent cities and disestablished counties, but let’s keep this simple for now


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