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27

Aug

The Internet knows where your cat livesA Florida State University professor has taken cat pictures shared on social media and plotted them on a global map. Is your cat on the map?

The Internet knows where your cat lives
A Florida State University professor has taken cat pictures shared on social media and plotted them on a global map. Is your cat on the map?

19

Jul

A beginner’s guide to orienteeringSome of the best places are found off the beaten path, so grab a compass and a map and learn how to navigate your way through the woods.

A beginner’s guide to orienteering
Some of the best places are found off the beaten path, so grab a compass and a map and learn how to navigate your way through the woods.

03

Jun

What is ‘unpopulation geography’?This map project looks at where human beings aren’t — and brings some interesting data to light.

What is ‘unpopulation geography’?
This map project looks at where human beings aren’t — and brings some interesting data to light.

18

Apr

How to find the Loch Ness Monster on your iPhoneNessie hunters scanning images of the famed Scottish lake claim there’s something in the water that can’t be explained.

How to find the Loch Ness Monster on your iPhone
Nessie hunters scanning images of the famed Scottish lake claim there’s something in the water that can’t be explained.

mapsbynik:


Nobody lives here: The nearly 5 million Census Blocks with zero population
A Block is the smallest area unit used by the U.S. Census Bureau for tabulating statistics. As of the 2010 census, the United States consists of 11,078,300 Census Blocks. Of them, 4,871,270 blocks totaling 4.61 million square kilometers were reported to have no population living inside them. Despite having a population of more than 310 million people, 47 percent of the USA remains unoccupied.
Green shading indicates unoccupied Census Blocks. A single inhabitant is enough to omit a block from shading
Quick update: If you’re the kind of map lover who cares about cartographic accuracy, check out the new version which fixes the Gulf of California. If you save this map for your own projects, please use this one instead.
Map observations
The map tends to highlight two types of areas:
places where human habitation is physically restrictive or impossible, and
places where human habitation is prohibited by social or legal convention.
Water features such lakes, rivers, swamps and floodplains are revealed as places where it is hard for people to live. In addition, the mountains and deserts of the West, with their hostility to human survival, remain largely void of permanent population.
Of the places where settlement is prohibited, the most apparent are wilderness protection and recreational areas (such as national and state parks) and military bases. At the national and regional scales, these places appear as large green tracts surrounded by otherwise populated countryside.
At the local level, city and county parks emerge in contrast to their developed urban and suburban surroundings. At this scale, even major roads such as highways and interstates stretch like ribbons across the landscape.
Commercial and industrial areas are also likely to be green on this map. The local shopping mall, an office park, a warehouse district or a factory may have their own Census Blocks. But if people don’t live there, they will be considered “uninhabited”. So it should be noted that just because a block is unoccupied, that does not mean it is undeveloped.
Perhaps the two most notable anomalies on the map occur in Maine and the Dakotas. Northern Maine is conspicuously uninhabited. Despite being one of the earliest regions in North America to be settled by Europeans, the population there remains so low that large portions of the state’s interior have yet to be politically organized.
In the Dakotas, the border between North and South appears to be unexpectedly stark. Geographic phenomena typically do not respect artificial human boundaries. Throughout the rest of the map, state lines are often difficult to distinguish. But in the Dakotas, northern South Dakota is quite distinct from southern North Dakota. This is especially surprising considering that the county-level population density on both sides of the border is about the same at less than 10 people per square mile.
Finally, the differences between the eastern and western halves of the contiguous 48 states are particularly stark to me. In the east, with its larger population, unpopulated places are more likely to stand out on the map. In the west, the opposite is true. There, population centers stand out against the wilderness.
::
Ultimately, I made this map to show a different side of the United States. Human geographers spend so much time thinking about where people are. I thought I might bring some new insight by showing where they are not, adding contrast and context to the typical displays of the country’s population geography.
I’m sure I’ve all but scratched the surface of insight available from examining this map. There’s a lot of data here. What trends and patterns do you see?
Errata
The Gulf of California is missing from this version. I guess it got filled in while doing touch ups. Oops. There’s a link to a corrected map at the top of the post.
Some islands may be missing if they were not a part of the waterbody data sets I used.
::
©mapsbynik 2014 Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Block geography and population data from U.S. Census Bureau Water body geography from National Hydrology Dataset and Natural Earth Made with Tilemill USGS National Atlas Equal Area Projection

mapsbynik:

Nobody lives here: The nearly 5 million Census Blocks with zero population

A Block is the smallest area unit used by the U.S. Census Bureau for tabulating statistics. As of the 2010 census, the United States consists of 11,078,300 Census Blocks. Of them, 4,871,270 blocks totaling 4.61 million square kilometers were reported to have no population living inside them. Despite having a population of more than 310 million people, 47 percent of the USA remains unoccupied.

Green shading indicates unoccupied Census Blocks. A single inhabitant is enough to omit a block from shading

Quick update: If you’re the kind of map lover who cares about cartographic accuracy, check out the new version which fixes the Gulf of California. If you save this map for your own projects, please use this one instead.

Map observations

The map tends to highlight two types of areas:

  • places where human habitation is physically restrictive or impossible, and
  • places where human habitation is prohibited by social or legal convention.

Water features such lakes, rivers, swamps and floodplains are revealed as places where it is hard for people to live. In addition, the mountains and deserts of the West, with their hostility to human survival, remain largely void of permanent population.

Of the places where settlement is prohibited, the most apparent are wilderness protection and recreational areas (such as national and state parks) and military bases. At the national and regional scales, these places appear as large green tracts surrounded by otherwise populated countryside.

At the local level, city and county parks emerge in contrast to their developed urban and suburban surroundings. At this scale, even major roads such as highways and interstates stretch like ribbons across the landscape.

Commercial and industrial areas are also likely to be green on this map. The local shopping mall, an office park, a warehouse district or a factory may have their own Census Blocks. But if people don’t live there, they will be considered “uninhabited”. So it should be noted that just because a block is unoccupied, that does not mean it is undeveloped.

Perhaps the two most notable anomalies on the map occur in Maine and the Dakotas. Northern Maine is conspicuously uninhabited. Despite being one of the earliest regions in North America to be settled by Europeans, the population there remains so low that large portions of the state’s interior have yet to be politically organized.

In the Dakotas, the border between North and South appears to be unexpectedly stark. Geographic phenomena typically do not respect artificial human boundaries. Throughout the rest of the map, state lines are often difficult to distinguish. But in the Dakotas, northern South Dakota is quite distinct from southern North Dakota. This is especially surprising considering that the county-level population density on both sides of the border is about the same at less than 10 people per square mile.

Finally, the differences between the eastern and western halves of the contiguous 48 states are particularly stark to me. In the east, with its larger population, unpopulated places are more likely to stand out on the map. In the west, the opposite is true. There, population centers stand out against the wilderness.

::

Ultimately, I made this map to show a different side of the United States. Human geographers spend so much time thinking about where people are. I thought I might bring some new insight by showing where they are not, adding contrast and context to the typical displays of the country’s population geography.

I’m sure I’ve all but scratched the surface of insight available from examining this map. There’s a lot of data here. What trends and patterns do you see?

Errata

  • The Gulf of California is missing from this version. I guess it got filled in while doing touch ups. Oops. There’s a link to a corrected map at the top of the post.
  • Some islands may be missing if they were not a part of the waterbody data sets I used.

::

©mapsbynik 2014
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
Block geography and population data from U.S. Census Bureau
Water body geography from National Hydrology Dataset and Natural Earth
Made with Tilemill
USGS National Atlas Equal Area Projection

16

Mar

Why there’s a fake island on Google EarthThe ‘island’ was likely cooled volcanic lava that was spotted in the late 1800s and simply stayed in map databases.

Why there’s a fake island on Google Earth
The ‘island’ was likely cooled volcanic lava that was spotted in the late 1800s and simply stayed in map databases.

17

Jan

Factory farms get mappedAn interactive map lets you see just how many factory farms are operating in your county.

Factory farms get mapped
An interactive map lets you see just how many factory farms are operating in your county.

09

Sep

Beware of the sea monster! Book charts mythical creatures of medieval mapsMedieval and Renaissance cartographers used fantastical illustrations to warn of the dangers of the unknown.

Beware of the sea monster! Book charts mythical creatures of medieval maps
Medieval and Renaissance cartographers used fantastical illustrations to warn of the dangers of the unknown.

08

Sep

Why there’s a fake island on Google EarthLast year, a group of Australian researchers “undiscovered” an island the size of Manhattan in the South Pacific.

Why there’s a fake island on Google Earth
Last year, a group of Australian researchers “undiscovered” an island the size of Manhattan in the South Pacific.

29

Jun

London Zoo lets you put your cat on the mapThe zoo hopes the interactive, searchable map will get people thinking about the plight of endangered big cats.

London Zoo lets you put your cat on the map
The zoo hopes the interactive, searchable map will get people thinking about the plight of endangered big cats.