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US Census Bureau calculates Hartville, Missouri is the closest town in the middle of the nation 


The heart of America has moved 18 miles to the hamlet of Hartville, Missouri – where 30 percent of residents live in poverty – as it continues its southwest-ward trajectory, the US Census Bureau says.

The hamlet of about 600 people in the Missouri Ozarks replaces Plato, Missouri, as the center of the nation, representing the smallest distance shift in the past century.

The Census Bureau made the calculation using 2020 census data.

It likened its process to the US being a scale and its residents each carrying equal weight.

The center of the nation is the spot where the scale would balance on an imaginary, flat US map.

Hartville, Missouri was hailed the center of the nation by the US Census bureau

The hamlet of about 600 people in the Missouri Ozarks replaces Plato, Missouri as the heart of the nation

The hamlet of about 600 people in the Missouri Ozarks replaces Plato, Missouri as the heart of the nation

Using longitude and latitude positions to measure the spot, the Census Bureau then identifies the nearest incorporated municipality as the nation’s core.

The center of population has been calculated since 1790, when Chestertown, Maryland was named the heart of America.

The latest established middle ground represents an 886-mile shift westward from the inaugural site.

The center of population has been calculated since 1790, when Chestertown, Maryland was named the heart of America

The center of population has been calculated since 1790, when Chestertown, Maryland was named the heart of America

The center of the nation is the spot where the scale of equally-weighted US residents would balance on an imaginary, flat US map. Using longitude and latitude positions, the Census Bureau then identifies the nearest incorporated municipality as the nation’s center.

The center of the nation is the spot where the scale of equally-weighted US residents would balance on an imaginary, flat US map. Using longitude and latitude positions, the Census Bureau then identifies the nearest incorporated municipality as the nation’s center.

Center of population by the numbers 

GPS coordinates: 37.415725 N, 92.346525 W

Distance to closest incorporated municipality: 14.6 miles  

Hartville, Missouri, population: 594  

Distance between Hartville and previous center: 11.8 miles 

Distance between Hartville and original 1790 center: 886 miles 

Source: US Census Bureau 

‘The movement of the center of population helps tell the story of this century’s migration South and West,’ Ron Jarmin, the Census Bureau’s acting director, said in a release. ‘It helps visualize where we live.’

Missouri has housed the nation’s middle ground for the past four decades.

As the centers shifted since 1960, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAAA) National Geodetic Survey has marked the locations.

‘NOAA’s work to survey and map our country captures snapshots of history as it unfolds through the years,’ Nicole LeBoeuf, assistant administrator of NOAA’s National Ocean Service, said in a release.

‘These measurements also provide the foundation for services Americans rely on daily, such as driving directions and community planning.’

Hartville, the latest site, is about 120 miles from the state capital Jefferson City.

Aside from now having the novelty of being the center of the nation, it doesn’t appear to offer many draws for tourists. But Hartville is about 75 miles from Mansfield, the former home of Little House on the Prairie author Laura Elizabeth Ingalls Wilder.

Hartville's poverty level was 30.5 percent in 2019, about triple the national average

Hartville’s poverty level was 30.5 percent in 2019, about triple the national average

Hartville's population has decreased to 547 people since this undated photo was taken

Hartville’s population has decreased to 547 people since this undated photo was taken 

The predominantly white hamlet was populated by 547 people in 2019 with a median age of 48, according to last year’s census.

The median household income was $22,000, compared with a national average of $68,703.

The poverty rate in 2019 was more than 30.5 percent, triple the national average of 10.5 percent. 

The rural village houses a few stores including a grocer, animal feed store, hardware store, thrift shops and a pharmacy.

Hartville Mayor Rob Tucker said he was pleased to learn the village would have national recognition.

‘It’s a great feeling to live in Hartville,’ he said in a release. ‘It has always been a town with a big heart and is now the heart of America.’ 



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