Los Angeles officially ousted Chicago as the nation's second-largest city in 1990, while San Diego and Dallas joined the ranks of cities with more than a million residents, the Census Bureau said Friday.

It is the first census to show California's urban giant has outgrown its Illinois rival, although estimates as early as 1982 suggested that Los Angeles had become No. 2.Houston replaced Philadelphia in fourth place, a change also suggested by earlier estimates.

New York City, population 7,322,564, is still the largest city by far.

Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, like many of the nation's mayors, still took issue with the count, which found his city had nearly 3.5 million residents.

"We still believe many residents were not counted," he said, striking the theme of those local officials for whom census headcount means federal dollars. "This undercount could mean the loss of millions of state and federal dollars needed to adequately provide services to those most in need."

Of America's biggest cities, those in warmer climates grew while those in colder states got smaller.

The country now has eight cities with more than 1 million residents - two more than in 1980.

The city figures were announced in a three-day roll-out of final population counts for more than 39,000 localities. Friday was the last day.

In past years the population figures for localities have trickled out over several months. This year, the Census Bureau released the numbers together in a public relations campaign to thank Americans for participating in the count.

Sixteen states were released Friday: Alaska, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Three cities from those states exploded in the 1980s: Jacksonville, Fla., which expanded 24 percent; San Jose, Calif., 22 percent; and El Paso, Texas, 21 percent. San Antonio, Texas, added 15 percent; Nashville, Tenn., is 12 percent bigger than in 1980; and San Francisco's population grew by almost 7 percent.

Memphis, Tenn., on the other hand, fell 5.5 percent, and Milwaukee slipped 1.3 percent.

The census drew the ire of many big-city mayors, who said poor and minorities weren't counted in disproportionate numbers.

For cities, people translate into more money from the federal government and more power in the statehouse and in Congress. Many federal aid programs distribute money based on population. The census is also used to redraw political district lines for state legislatures and the U.S. House.

Denver Mayor Federico Pena said his city would sue, saying, "We have worked in good faith with the Census Bureau, but I am still dissatisfied with the population count in Denver." The city's population declined by 5 percent to 467,610.


(Additional information)

Largest cities in Mountain West

Rank* City 1980 1990

9. Phoenix, Ariz. 790,183 983,403

26. Denver 492,694 467,610

33. Tucson, Ariz. 346,385 405,390

38. Albuquerque, N.M. 332,920 384,736

53. Mesa, Ariz. 163,594 288,091

54. Colorado Springs 215,105 281,140

63. Las Vegas, Nev. 165,304 258,295

72. Aurora, Colo. 158,588 222,103

108. Salt Lake City 163,034 159,936

117. Glendale, Ariz. 98,418 148,134

122. Tempe, Ariz. 106,861 141,865

132. Reno, Nev. 100,756 133,850

139. Scottsdale, Ariz. 89,577 130,069

143. Lakewood, Colo. 113,808 126,481

145. Boise, Idaho 102,249 125,738

Some 195 cities had populations of more than 100,000, according to preliminary Census Bureau figures.

*National ranking.