Richard Florida is a co-founder and editor at large of CityLab and a senior editor at The Atlantic. He is a university professor in the University of Toronto’s School of Cities and Rotman School of Management, and a distinguished fellow at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate and visiting fellow at Florida International University.
Where America’s Olympians hail from and train.
There are 555 Americans competing in Rio for the Summer Games. This includes 263 men and 292 women who range in age from 16 to 52, competing in 30 sports.
With the help of my former MPI colleague Patrick Adler, a current doctoral student in Urban Planning at UCLA, I took a look at the geographic distribution of this year’s American athletes. Adler was able to track down the hometowns for 554 of America’s Olympians, and the places they currently live for 549. MPI’s Taylor Blake mapped the data.
The map above shows the “hometowns” of America’s Olympians. There are clear clusters across the Boston-New York-D.C. corridor, in Northern and Southern California, Southern Florida, Chicago, and Texas, matching up to America’s largest population centers.
The largest number of athletes hail from greater Los Angeles, America’s second largest metro, with 52 athletes or nearly 10 percent of 2016 U.S. Olympians. New York is next with 34 athletes (6.2 percent). Philadelphia, the nation’s seventh largest metro, is third with 27 athletes, almost five percent.
San Francisco, the 11th largest metro, is next with 25 athletes (4.5 percent) followed by San Diego, the 17th largest metro, with 21 athletes (3.8 percent) and Miami, the eighth largest with 20 athletes (3.6 percent).
Chicago, the third largest metro, has 14. Washington, D.C., and Houston have 12 athletes each, Boston and Portland have 11 each, and Dallas has 10. Atlanta, Riverside, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Sacramento, Denver, Seattle, St. Louis, Phoenix, Orlando, Tampa, and San Antonio each sent five or more athletes to this summer’s games.
All told, California is home to 121 Olympians, or 21 percent, and the Bos-Wash Corridor is home to 92, or 16 percent.
The second map takes a different tack, charting where America’s athletes currently live.
California looms large, with three of its metros taking the top three spots. A large number of Olympians currently live in L.A., with 61 athletes, or 11.4 percent. San Diego, home to a major Olympic training facility, is second with 41 (7.7 percent) and San Francisco is third with 31 (5.8 percent). New York is fourth with 29 (5.4 percent), followed by tiny Colorado Springs, home to another Olympic training facility, in fifth with 28 athletes (5.2 percent).
Next in line is Miami and Philadelphia, currently home to 18 athletes each; Portland with 15, and Chicago with 13. Another 20 or so metros are currently home to more than five Olympians. All told, California is home to 146 Olympians, 27.3 percent of the total and the Bos-Wash Corridor is currently home to another 71 athletes, about 13 percent of the team.
This pattern has remained fairly stable since I looked at it four years ago during the London games. When all is said and done, America’s summer Olympians follow its population centers to some degree, but are even more clustered especially in California.