I like the personal story this tells: I grew up in a red place, moved to a pink place, then to a light blue place, and ended up in a dark blue place where I’ve stayed for 15 years now.
P.S. Truth be told … we moved from the pink place to dark blue for a year, but my job wasn’t renewed. So then we moved to the light blue place. And after 8 years there, we moved back to the same dark blue state.
Here’s the American Airlines route map from Life magazine in 1951:
This when airlines routes were still regulated, so the hub and spoke system is still 30 years away. I know they had flown coast to coast with 1 stop service by this time. So you can imagine something like New York City to Oklahoma City to San Francisco from this map. Probably took you about a day. Still pretty much does, door to door.
Then here’s an international route map from 1956:
I don't know anyone who flew across the Atlantic at this point in time. I know they still had to stop, so I imagine that was in the Azores. It shows England to Bermuda on here, but I wonder how often that was possible.
Just after I discovered Judgmental Maps, they posted their newest one; a city I loved and hated for 9 years, New Orleans:
I worked at “school for kids who had no other choice”, and got some extra work at “Yankee College”. When we moved there, we lived west of “Like Chalmette, but cleaner”. Then we moved to “Sorta Lakeview”. We’d drive through “Avoid” quite a bit to get to “Drunk”.
The full size version has yet to be archived, so just click the link to the main page above.
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.
First there’s the headline: “Mysterious lake in Tunisian desert".
Ooh ... Scary.
So I went and looked. Yes, a lake appeared in the middle of the Sahara. But, of course, there’s water underground, and geologists think a tremor opened up a crack that became a spring. Fair enough, but no mystery.
But what did the locals do? Well, they’re human, so they thought: “Lake. Desert. Lets’ go swimming!”.
This new lake is about 20 miles outside of Gafsa.* This is a small city, of about 100K inhabitants about 100 miles in from the Mediterranean. Here:
I love two things about this picture, and both of them are related to the prejudices of people in the west. First off, I like the natural inclination to get in the water, even if you have to roll up your pantlegs or get your clothes wet. There’s an inclination to think that people in other countries aren’t like us. This is evidence that we have more in common than not. Second, in the developed world, we have a tendency to view Arab countries through the lenses of oil wealth, refugee camps, and terrorists. But Tunisia isn’t like that: it’s been quietly turning into a middle income country for decades. It’s now a well off Arab country with no oil (that’s not to say that the country is in great shape, but I think comparing it to Mexico is reasonable). So anyway, take a look at the clothes. There’s a hundred people there that look like they just got back from The Gap. And it’s not like Gafsa is a major city near an international airport. And yet, not a burqa in sight. That’s not surprising to me, but it may be to some of you.
* I learned some trivia about Gafsa while preparing this: 1) it’s where the Tunisian spring revolution started, and 2) descendants of Romans — Christian and speaking a Romance language — survived here until the late Middle Ages.
Technically it’s a chloropleth of the incidence of slavery in 1860:
I thought I had posted this map several years ago, but I couldn’t find it with the Google.
The most shocking thing for me in looking at this is the minor extent of slavery in Missouri. In a very real sense, the expansion of slavery from Missouri into Kansas was a cause of The Civil War … and yet it just wasn’t that prevalent in Missouri. Perhaps that’s just where the really bad slaveowners congregated.
On the other hand, you can also see why Kansas had so many abolitionists ticked off: you really have to go out of your way to get your slaves up the Mississippi past the Ohio River to get to the Missouri River valley.
It’s called Bir Tawil. It’s 800 square miles of really lousy-looking desert in the Sahara.
There are two borders between Egypt and Sudan. Egypt likes the one drawn in 1899. Sudan likes the one from 1902.
On this map, Egypt likes the straight horizontal border. Sudan likes the jagged diagonal one with the little loop on the left side. This means both countries claim the green triangle, and neither one wants the little black smudge.
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