The 7 Biggest Cities Ever to File for Bankruptcy

The bankrupt Stockton has some company.

Image
Reuters

Today, the city of Stockton, California, became the largest city in U.S. history to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection (something we've broken down by the numbers). But though Stockton is the largest city to take this unfortunate route, it's certainly not the first. More than 600 municipalities (including counties) have filed for bankruptcy since Chapter 9 filings first became an option in the 1930s, according to this article from ABC News.

Here are the seven largest cities to file for bankruptcy (sometimes more than once) in recent history:

1. Stockton, California
Bankruptcy filing: 2012
Population (in 2010): 291,707

2. Bridgeport, Connecticut
Bankruptcy filing: 1991
Population (in 1990): 141,686

3. Vallejo, California
Bankruptcy filing: 2008
Population (in 2010): 115,942

4. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Bankruptcy filing: 2011
Population (in 2010): 49,528

5. Prichard, Alabama
Bankruptcy filing: 1999
Population (in 2000): 28,633
Second bankruptcy filing: 2009
Population (in 2010): 22,659

6. Central Falls, Rhode Island
Bankruptcy filing: 2011
Population (in 2010): 19,376

7. Desert Hot Springs, California
Bankruptcy filing: 2001
Population (in 2000): 16,582

Stockton is at least twice as large as these other cities. But it may be a little comforting to know others have undergone this process and survived.

Photo credit: Brian Snyder/Reuters

About the Author

  • Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.