The Biggest Cities on the Great Lakes

Milwaukee, WI, is found on Lake Michigan.
Milwaukee, WI, is found on Lake Michigan.

The Great Lakes refer to the interconnected chain of freshwater lakes found in east-central North America. Examples of these lakes are Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, Lake Superior, and Lake Michigan. These lakes are listed as part of the 14 largest lakes in the world. The Saint Lawrence River connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. Here is a list of the cities that have their skylines on the shore of the Great Lakes. 

The Five Most Populous Cities on the Great Lakes


Toronto is a city located in the province of Ontario in Canada. It is also the largest city in the country. Toronto sits on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. The city encompasses the Golden Horseshoe region that lies on the western side of Lake Ontario. This region has a population of close to 8 million people.


Chicago is a city found in the State of Illinois in the United States. Its population is about 2.707 million resulting in it being among the largest cities in the country. The Chicago metropolitan area is the largest metro economy within the proximity of the Great Lakes, having a population of approximately 9.9 million. The economy and history of the city of Chicago are closely linked to its position along Lake Michigan.


Mississauga is a Canadian city located in the province of Ontario. The population of the city is approximately 722,000 people. Mississauga is located along the shores of Lake Ontario bordering Toronto to its east. The two major rivers that drain into the lake from the Mississauga area are the Credit River and the Port Credit River.


Milwaukee is a United States city found in Wisconsin. Its population is about 592,000 people. Milwaukee is found on the western shores of Lake Michigan which is the only one of the Great Lakes found wholly in the United States. Its exact location is at the junction between the River Kinnickinnic, the River Menomonee, and the River Milwaukee. The area covered by the city of Milwaukee is 96.80 square miles out of which 0.68 square miles is water.


Hamilton is a city found in the province of Ontario in Canada. About 534,000 people inhabit it. The town is geographically placed on the western tip of Lake Ontario which is among the Great Lakes. Hamilton has been a Canadian Great Lakes port city since the 1820s. The Hamilton Harbour is naturally separated from Lake Ontario by a ridge covered in sand.

The Great Lakes Compact of 2008

The Great Lakes Compact is an agreement that was signed into US Federal Law in 2008. Its primary objective was to protect the Great Lakes by regulating and managing the use of its waters. One of the methods used to protect the waters of the lakes is by minimizing diversion of its waters out of the Great Lakes Basin.

List of the Biggest Cities on the Great Lakes by Population

8BuffaloNew York261,452
9RochesterNew York210,565
13St. CatharinesOntario133,113
17Thunder BayOntario107,909
18Green BayWisconsin104,057

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