Rising to the Occasion - 405 Magazine

Rising to the Occasion

Oklahoma City ranked as 20th largest US city.

Photo by Jake Durham.

Oklahoma City ranked as 20th largest US city.

“Seeing this level of growth is validation that you are doing something right and that Oklahoma City is a place people want to be.” – Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt

People want to be on the side of progress. It is an exhilarating feeling. The excitement in Mayor Holt’s voice was evident as he spoke about the city he loves, which has changed dramatically over the years. Oklahoma City hit a milestone in 2022 when it was officially identified as the 20th largest city in the U.S. 

The U.S. Census Bureau calculates population change using the Population Estimates Program, which derives statistics from birth, death and migration data. “Oklahoma City was the 31st largest city based on 2010 census data,” said Holt. “When I first took office in 2018, it was 27th, and in 2020, it ranked as the 22nd largest. Based on current census estimates, Oklahoma City is now the 20th largest.”

Migration is the reason for the city’s rapid growth. “We see younger people staying in the city more than ever,” said Holt. “We are also seeing people who had ties to OKC moving back, and many times people are moving here who have no ties to Oklahoma City. Immigrant populations also account for significant growth, with one in five residents now being Latino. We also have a strong Vietnamese population.”

Oklahoma City prides itself on resiliency, and it has built a strong economy for its residents despite the volatility of the oil and gas industry. There is a strong focus on improving value while offering residents a quality of life similar to that found in cities such as Austin, Kansas City, Wichita or even Dallas.

“Oklahoma City offers residents a unique combination that has the ease of living and cost of a smaller city, with all the cultural offerings of a large American city,” said Holt. “People have larger homes and see their dollar go further here. Meanwhile, we offer great arts, dining, entertainment, pro sports like the Thunder and other activities and events on par with coastal cities. And there is still so much more to come, like the completion of Scissortail Park, the development around the First Americans Museum, the First National Center and MAPS 4.”

The Metropolitan Area Projects Plan, or MAPS, is a debt-free public improvement program that has contributed significantly to developing Oklahoma City. Billions have been invested in the program, and 16 new projects have been slated, including wellness centers, bike paths, transit systems, fairgrounds and homelessness initiatives. Businesses are also investing in Oklahoma City, with strong contributions from the aerospace and film industries.

“There is an evident payoff when we invest in ourselves,” said Holt. “OKC has seen dramatic change over the last 10 years, and that change is expected to continue. Oklahoma City’s growth is creating a place to live that is fun and dynamic. We have hit a milestone which has made OKC one of the most prominent cities in the U.S.”