Seattle would be a much denser city if its metropolitan area were squeezed inside the city proper.

The current estimated population of the city of Seattle is 634,435 people. If we divide that number by the city’s land area, 83.87 square miles (SM) we get a density of about 7,565 people per square mile (PSM).

Estimates of the current metropolitan area pin the population at 3,905,026 people. If everyone lived in the city this would be an additional 3,270,591 people in Seattle. This translates to a whopping 46,560 PSM.

That’s six times denser than the city of Seattle’s current density. However, a few well-known areas in the US are much more densely populated. For example, Manhattan:

  • Manhattan, New York – land area: 23 SM – population density: 70,517.9 PSM

Even if Seattle’s metropolitan area were in the city, it still wouldn’t be nearly as dense as Manhattan. It turns out Brooklyn is a much closer comparison to Seattle.  The borough’s land area is smaller than Seattle but it also has fewer people so the density is comparable:

  • Brooklyn, New York – land area: 70.61 SM – population density: 36,356 PSM

Our hypothetical Seattle would be about 25% more densely populated than Brooklyn. If you look abroad there are a lot of cities with a similar density (46,560 PSM) over a larger area of land. Seoul is about three times larger than Seattle in land area, but has a similar density to our hypothetical Seattle:

  • Seoul, South Korea – land area: 233.66 SM – population density: 44,691 PSM

So perhaps if everyone in the metropolitan area lived in Seattle it would look a little like this:

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Owen does servicing and consulting for a software company to pay the bills. He has an amateur interest in urban policy, focusing on housing. His primary mode is a bicycle but isn't ashamed of riding down the hill and taking the bus back up. Feel free to tweet at him: @pickovven.

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