Cool research. A team of 7 researchers, using 3 databases of individuals who are culturally important through history, plotted the migration of those individuals to determine cultural centers.
They visualize this for America:
That really gives meaning to the idea of flyover states. But, pause it and look around a bit. Check out the importance of:
- Cincinnati and Louisville in the early to mid 19th century.
- How about the Erie Canal being traced out.
- The absence of much at all across the Black Belt of the deep South.
- San Francisco popping out of nowhere in the 1850’s (before, and everyone forgets about this, not really thriving well after that).
- The necklace of cities along the Union Pacific route, through Kansas City, Denver, and Salt Lake City.
- The way Salt Lake City and the west coast attract people who bypassed the east coast completely.
- The outsized attraction of New Orleans in the early 20th century (as its primacy as a port faded)
- The development of the triangle in Texas as oil boomed.
- The huge migration to Los Angeles starting in the 1920’s.
- And towards the end, the influx of people into Florida.
And for Europe:
- During its heydey, notice how the Roman Empire is actually fairly tenuous across the west: everyone’s in Rome in a way they’ve never been in New York.
- But as the Empire fades, the centers of western European cultural start popping up before (and during) the barbarian invasions.
- The Dark Ages are pretty dark, but there’s clustering across the region we still associate with medieval history: from the Ile de France, arcing northeast towards the low countries, and then back southeast across the central Rhine valley.
- In the 12th century, look for Seville and Cordoba popping up under the Moors in Spain. Paris gets brighter at the same time.
- Not much going on in northern Italy, until the bright lights come on in the 14th and 15th centuries.
- Check out Amsterdam in the 17th century.
- I found Vienna quieter than I expected in the 17th and 18th centuries. But look at the lights of Budapest, Prague, and Cracow.
- St. Petersburg pops out of nowhere after its founding in the early 18th century.
- By 1900, Germany has bright lights … everywhere.
- And look at England … whole bunches of people leaving to go to America. Look closely, and you can see some of them coming from Germany in the 1930’s.
- You can also see many eastern Europeans heading in the direction of Moscow in the mid 20th century.