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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):

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Members have made 33 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of BrentB67 Inactive
    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’.

    • #1
    • February 20, 2013 at 4:29 am
  2. Profile photo of Chris Campion Thatcher

    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.

    • #2
    • February 20, 2013 at 4:51 am
  3. Profile photo of Lavaux Inactive

    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!

    • #3
    • February 20, 2013 at 5:23 am
  4. Profile photo of Foxman Inactive

    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.

    • #4
    • February 20, 2013 at 5:49 am
  5. Profile photo of Cal Lawton Member

    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.

    • #5
    • February 20, 2013 at 7:33 am
  6. Profile photo of Fred Cole Member
    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.

    • #6
    • February 20, 2013 at 7:42 am
  7. Profile photo of Fred Cole Member

    Next thought:

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

    • #7
    • February 20, 2013 at 7:44 am
  8. Profile photo of Valiuth Member

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

    • #8
    • February 20, 2013 at 8:16 am
  9. Profile photo of Aaron Miller Member

    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.

    • #9
    • February 20, 2013 at 8:41 am
  10. Profile photo of Sabrdance Member

    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.

    • #10
    • February 20, 2013 at 8:46 am
  11. Profile photo of Mr. Dart Coolidge
    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.

    • #11
    • February 20, 2013 at 8:58 am
  12. Profile photo of RyanM Coolidge

    … I am torn between Rainier and Salt Lake.

    • #12
    • February 20, 2013 at 8:58 am
  13. Profile photo of Mr. Dart Coolidge

    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.

    • #13
    • February 20, 2013 at 9:02 am
  14. Profile photo of Mr. Dart Coolidge

    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.

    • #14
    • February 20, 2013 at 9:06 am
  15. Profile photo of Rob Long Founder

    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.

    • #15
    • February 20, 2013 at 9:08 am
  16. Profile photo of D. Paul Mortimer Member

    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.

    • #16
    • February 20, 2013 at 9:11 am
  17. Profile photo of Benjamin Glaser Member

    My ancestors would be back in their native Shenandoah soil. 

    • #17
    • February 20, 2013 at 9:12 am
  18. Profile photo of Spin Thatcher

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

    • #18
    • February 20, 2013 at 9:12 am
  19. Profile photo of Palaeologus Member

    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!

    • #19
    • February 20, 2013 at 10:01 am
  20. Profile photo of Foxman Inactive
    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

    • #20
    • February 20, 2013 at 10:11 am
  21. Profile photo of Steven Jones Coolidge
    Valiuth: I see one fatal flaw with his map. The state that encompasses Chicago seems to be called “Gary”. How rude! · 1 hour ago

    Also, the state to the east of Chicago is called “Firelands”, which would seem more fitting for Chicago (at least the south side).

    • #21
    • February 20, 2013 at 10:17 am
  22. Profile photo of Michael Burmeister Inactive

    Looks like my own Minnesota came through the most intact. Not too surprising, given how close its actual population is to Mr. Freeman’s target one. Initially I thought that Firelands (where I am right now) was a reference to the combustibility of the Cuyahoga River. Apparently it comes from this:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firelands Now that I think of it, that map would make a pretty good Risk board: “You may have taken Shiprock and Ogallala, but I still have forces in Nodaway!”

    • #23
    • February 20, 2013 at 11:14 am
  23. Profile photo of Lance K. Drumheller Inactive
    Ryan M: … I am torn between Rainier and Salt Lake. · 1 hour ago

    Ditto. Can we get that line nudged a bit further west. If the family farm is bisected, I think I’ll be living on the eastern half, thanks.

    kpzUS.png

    We’ll be traveling single file to hide our numbers.

    • #24
    • February 20, 2013 at 11:24 am
  24. Profile photo of Israel P. Member

    Please tell me he is not doing this study on the public dime.

     

    • #25
    • February 20, 2013 at 11:44 am
  25. Profile photo of Lance K. Drumheller Inactive
    Israel P.: Please tell me he is not doing this study on the public dime.

    · 2 minutes ago

    Get with the times! It’s the public quarter now.

    • #26
    • February 20, 2013 at 11:48 am
  26. Profile photo of Douglas Member

    More honestly, the places would have names like The Castro Strip, Chalon-sur-Snob, and Rednickistan.

    • #27
    • February 20, 2013 at 12:24 pm
  27. Profile photo of Fake John/Jane Galt Member

    Welcome to the Hunger Games.

    • #28
    • February 21, 2013 at 2:49 am
  28. Profile photo of Umbra Fractus Member

    I have to wonder about some of those names, particularly Menominee.

    And I’m not sure how I’d feel about living in “Big Thicket.” I might end up moving to the Firelands just because of how awesome (in the 12-year-old-boy sense of the term) it would be to have that as part of my address.

    • #29
    • February 21, 2013 at 8:59 am
  29. Profile photo of Tom Lindholtz Inactive

    This is fascinating to me because I used to do this sort of thing in my former life. I worked with CA student demographics toward the end of optimizing our draw of applicants from all of the state. If I recall, I broke CA into 7 or 8 regions based on our expected yield on applicants from each. So seeing this map is quite interesting to me.

    • #30
    • February 21, 2013 at 10:17 am
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