Below are examples from the United States of suburbs which have outgrown and overtaken the core city of the metropolitan area in population. As is evident from the list, many of these are planned retirement centers in Florida and Arizona. Virginia Beach originally started as a beach resort and retirement haven for military personnel, as well.
Update on 3/1/15: added Overland Park, KS which is now larger than Kansas City, KS, though it remains quite a bit smaller than the other original core city of the metro area, Kansas City, MO.
Core City 2010 Population Suburb 2010 Population
Daytona Beach, FL 61,005 Deltona, FL 85,182
Fort Myers, FL 62,298 Cape Coral, FL 154, 305
Fort Myers, FL 62,298 Lehigh Acres, FL 86,784
Fort Pierce, FL 41, 590 Port St. Lucie, FL 164,603
Hollywood, FL 140,768 Pembroke Pines, FL 154,750
Melbourne, FL 76,068 Palm Bay, FL 103,190
Naples, FL 19,537 Immokalee, FL 24, 154
Naples, FL 19,537 Golden Gate, FL 23, 961
Norfolk, VA 242,803 Virginia Beach, VA 437,994
Overland Park, KS 173,372 Kansas City, KS 145,786
Prescott, AZ 39,843 Prescott Valley, AZ 38,822* *(projected to have passed Prescott since 2010)
Punta Gorda, FL 16,641 Port Charlotte, FL 54,392
Sarasota, FL 53,326 North Port, FL 57,357
When a suburb exceeds the core city in population, the Census Bureau’s references to the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) begins to change, as well. For instance, what once was the “Fort Myers MSA,” eventually became the “Fort Myers-Cape Coral MSA,” and is now known as “Cape Coral-Fort Myers MSA,” as the moniker is revised with the changing population status. Poor Fort Pierce isn’t even listed as part of the metropolitan area name any longer, as it is just identified as “Port St. Lucie MSA.”
The demographic changes also impact local, state, and national politics; as well as alters funding mechanisms for roads and other public infrastructure. It can even revise how the area is marketed to potential employers, tourists, and especially new residents.
For the original core city, which may have been in existence for many decades longer than the newby suburb, this whole scenario has the potential of adversely impacting its collective ego and image. Granted, there is no expected name change to the “Deltona 500,” but Daytona Beach certainly is no longer is the biggest player in its own county (Volusia) when it comes to population.
In each of the cases listed above, local boosters can no longer boast about being the largest city in the region now that they have to play second fiddle to the new kid(s) on the block.