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2010 U.S. Population Center.

2010 U.S. Population Center

Field review by the editors.

Plato, Missouri

Ten years is a long time. But is it long enough to merit a monument?

The village of Plato, Missouri, said "Yes!"

Within days of learning that the 2010 Census had determined that the USA's Population Center was nearest to Plato, the town announced that it would erect a permanent stone monument commemorating its centeredness. That was no small feat for Plato, which the Census also determined had a population of only 109.

As the U.S. population has slid southwest, its last five centers have all been in Missouri: 1980 Desoto, 1990 Steelville, 2000 Edgar Springs, 2010 Plato, 2020 Hartville. Of the first three, only Steelville successfully solidified its ten-year claim with a monument (still visible in its town park). The 2000 winner, Edgar Springs, got by with a "Population Center of the United States" announcement attached to its green highway City Limits sign.

The Population Center is not determined numerically; it's the geographic point at which the U.S. would balance if each of its residents (currently over 300 million) weighed the same. We're not really sure if this would've worked, but if Plato could have somehow convinced everyone who moved west of the Mississippi after 2010 to lose a few pounds, it would have maintained the 2010 equilibrium, and Plato's monument -- a silvery disk mounted on a small red granite pedestal -- would have still marked the Center spot in 2020.

Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Americans refused to go on a diet and kept fleeing the Northeast, and Plato was the population center for only ten years.

2010 U.S. Population Center

Hwy 32, Plato, MO
South side of Hwy 32 next to a gazebo. It's a plaque on a upright block of Missouri red granite.
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