Map: How Many Major U.S. Cities Can Fit Inside Los Angeles City Limits?

A map that has been making the rounds on the internet demonstrates how you can fit 7 major U.S. cities plus New York's most famous borough within Los Angeles city limits.

We certainly know the greater truth behind the map is spot-on: Los Angeles itself is a really big city on its own—and that's before you even start to take into account neighboring cities that get lumped into "Los Angeles," like Santa Monica, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

We've had to give a talk to eager out-of-towners letting them know that they might want to rethink their plan to go to the beach, Griffith Park and a restaurant in the Valley before ending up at their home base near downtown all in one day. We warn them that's it's best to stick to one side of town for most of the day. We'd hate for them to end up returning home and complaining that—just as they expected—they wasted half of their vacation/weekend/whatever on those awful SoCal freeways or taking complicated shortcuts that sound like something out of an SNL skit.

This map making the rounds conveys the point pretty easily. It fits the outlines of seven cities—San Francisco, Boston, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Cleveland—plus the island of Manhattan, mostly within Los Angeles city limits.

But is the map accurate? We did a quick calculation and figured out that the map isn't so far off. We took a look at this list on Wikipedia that tallies the land mass within city limits and added all the numbers up. Altogether these cities (plus Manhattan) take up about 469 square miles. The city of Los Angeles itself is about 469 square miles. There's some rounding in there, so the numbers might not be so exact, but it looks pretty close through our quick back-of-the-envelope calculation.

There are a few problems. It looks like there's a little too much white space, even if some of the other city shapes go outside of the lines and overlap. Also, the 405 Freeway going through "Pittsburgh" should actually be the 110 Harbor Freeway. (We're also a little bummed that the 105 freeway didn't make an appearance.)

But all in all, it's not a bad tool to share with folks in other cities as a reference point. We wish we could thank whoever put the map together but we haven't had luck finding the original source. It got picked up 10 months ago on a Reddit thread, and it pointed to an education site as the source. Since there doesn't seem to be much information about the map there, we're guessing that's not the original either. (If you know the original, e-mail us or make a note in the comments.)

Here's the big map (and you can find a larger version here):

Bonus: if you're interested in conveying the sheer size of Los Angeles to New Yorkers, check out this modified Google map we found that show just how much larger we are than the five boroughs.

UPDATE 10/22/2013: The source of the map (or at least the idea) is Cause Communications, which is a part of Hershey Cause Communications. A spokeswoman e-mailed us: "We actually created it a number of years ago for an LA urban funders group and updated it last year for the Council on Foundations conference in LA last year. You can see it as part of a welcome brochure." The map looks a little different, but the concept is the same. You can take a look for yourself here.