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The 50 (Equal) States

Neil Freeman is an artist and urban planner in New York who does some interesting artistic experiments with maps on his website, Fake is the New Real. His newest project is dividing up the nation into 50 states with equal populations (about 6.175 million people per state).

The text that accompanies the image on his website is a little confusing. Freeman wraps up by saying that this is just a piece of art and that he’s not seriously suggesting a change to the Electoral College — but everything that proceeds that statement seems to be a serious attempt to weigh precisely that prospect.

Regardless of Freeman’s true feelings, I don’t have any truck with desires to reform the Electoral College, but this is still fascinating if you’re interested in population distribution, political geography, etc. (You’ll have to click thru to see it at full size):

  1. BrentB67
    Israel P.: Please tell me he is not doing this study on the public dime.

      · 4 hours ago

    That was my question – how many millions of federal dollars went to produce this ‘art’.

  2. Chris Campion

    This is a map that David Foster Wallace might have drawn, but for entirely different reasons.  I still don’t see a Great Concavity, though.

    Who gets the moving company contract from the USG to move Americans to their properly-designated new homes?  I imagine that every new redistricted neighborhood will also be required to be demographically balanced to match the country’s targeted population matrix, and be EEOC-compliant.

  3. Lavaux

    All well and good until somebody moves….

    Ameriherron

    Love this! I grew up in Eastern Washington, and this couldn’t be more true. The state really should be divided into two states, with Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, King, Pierce, Kitsap, Island and San Juan counties in one state and the rest of Washington in another.  Call the I-5 corridor state “Puke-it Sound” and the rest “Columbia”.

    And btw, no way, no how does Shasta get Rainier’s wine country. Not happening!

  4. Foxman

    I can imagine where he derived many of these names, but I grew up in Cleveland and I have no idea why the lands bordering Lake Erie would be referred to as the Firelands, unless he is making a crack about the flaming Cuyahoga River.

  5. Cal Lawton

    The next step in equality is recognizing population density as a factor in allocating public services such as healthcare. That’s when we discover some states are more equal than others.

  6. Fred Cole
    Rob Long: I sort of like these names.  It looks like the science fiction version of the US.

    And the great thing about the country is: populations shift.  I’d love to see what the map would look like over, say, 50 years.  My guess is that Tule would be bigger. · 10 hours ago

    Those were my first two thoughts.  I like the naming.  

    And yeah, you’d need to redraw the lines every so often. 

    It’s fascinating as a thought experiment though.  Our current state lines are artifacts of another world, centuries old.

  7. Fred Cole

    Next thought:

    Which would be red and which would be blue states on this map?

  8. Valiuth

    I see one fatal flaw with his map. The state that encompasses Chicago seems to be called “Gary”. How rude! 

  9. Aaron Miller

    I hadn’t even heard of the Chinati Mountains until now. I must question the judgment of anyone who thinks renaming any sizable region of Texas after mountains makes sense.

    Atchafalaya is acceptable, though Goodeatin might be more appropriate.

  10. Sabrdance

    Doomed to failure.  Putting Lubbock and Shreveport in the same jurisdiction is asking for unrest to make Bleeding Kansas look like a pick-up ball game.

    And don’t get me started on putting Kansas City and Lawrence in the same state.

    Though I will conced that Lexington and Louisville will probably be happy to be done with each other.

    Oh -and Chicago, LA, and New York get their own states.  Gary is the rest of the Metroplex.

  11. Mr. Dart
    Foxman: I can imagine where he derived many of these names, but I grew up in Cleveland and I have no idea why the lands bordering Lake Erie would be referred to as the Firelands, unless he is making a crack about the flaming Cuyahoga River. · 3 hours ago

    That part of what was the Western Reserve was set aside for residents of Connecticut towns  who were burned out of their homes by the British during the American Revolution.  They called the region The Fire Lands but it came to be known as the Firelands.

  12. Ryan M

    … I am torn between Rainier and Salt Lake.

  13. Mr. Dart

    Using this map to plan my trip this week to Shenandoah and then on through Allegheny to Firelands.  I bet there are still tolls on the West Virginia Turnpike no matter what they call it. 

    Still, this map is a happier one than the one from Robert Ferrigno’s Assassin Trilogy.

  14. Mr. Dart

    Indianapolis will be in Maumee, but Maumee will be in Firelands.  This will take some getting used to.  I don’t think “The Yellow Rose of Big Thicket” is going to go over real big either.

  15. Rob Long
    C

    I sort of like these names.  It looks like the science fiction version of the US.

    And the great thing about the country is: populations shift.  I’d love to see what the map would look like over, say, 50 years.  My guess is that Tule would be bigger.

  16. D. Paul Mortimer

    It’s like the map of the next Walker Percy novel that was never written. Clever, how Mesabi, formerly MN (with slices of WI), was named after the famous iron range because of the iron ore mining old time revival that came with China’s demand and the dollar’s decline.

  17. Benjamin Glaser

    My ancestors would be back in their native Shenandoah soil. 

  18. Spin

    I’m guessing a lot of the folks in Salt Lake would be happier this way…

  19. Palaeologus

    So I’m a resident of Firelands now? Sweet. Looks like a battleground state to boot.

    I hereby demand plebiscites in the communities of St. Joe, Benton Harbor, and South Haven. The Firelands will not rest until it has been rejoined with its   ̶b̶e̶a̶c̶h̶e̶s̶ brethren along Lake Michigan. Oh yeah, it’s on Menominee!

  20. Foxman
    Terry

    Foxman: I can imagine where he derived many of these names, but I grew up in Cleveland and I have no idea why the lands bordering Lake Erie would be referred to as the Firelands, unless he is making a crack about the flaming Cuyahoga River. · 3 hours ago

    That part of what was the Western Reserve was set aside for residents of Connecticut towns  who were burned out of their homes by the British during the American Revolution.  They called the region The Fire Lands but it came to be known as the Firelands. · 25 minutes ago

    Thanks