by Null Ghost
Apropos of nothing, but does anybody know who the guy on the left is?
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.
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?
- 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.
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
Unofficial Map: San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit, 2011
This post comes about because of a Tumblr Mail (go, on ask me something!) from an anonymous follower, who says:
“Any idea if a unified San Francisco transit map exists somewhere out there, perhaps a la the Portland one? SF has to have one of the more confusing transit systems in the country, what with Caltrain + BART + Muni + cable cars + the F line.”
As it happens, there are plenty of unofficial maps showing both just the City of San Francisco and the greater Bay Area.
This one, from sfcityscape.com, is definitely one of the best. It shows BART, Muni Metro, the F line, Caltrain, and more. The only rail transit it doesn’t show are the historic cable cars (which surely don’t qualify as rapid transit, anyway) and interstate Amtrak trains, preferring to focus on the Amtrak California Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin services.
Extra handy features include an indication of stations with timed transfers between services and an awesome little diagram of how BART services change quite radically depending on the day of the week.
Technically, the map is extremely well drawn - there’s a lovely clean minimalism to the linework and the colour palette is gorgeous, especially in the background areas.
My one minor complaint is that the colours used to denote Muni Metro and Caltrain are very similar to each other. While the relative thicknesses of their service lines help distinguish them from each other, the services do touch and overlap in a couple of places. This problem seems like it could have been easily solved with a little more thought, but still barely detracts from the sheer quality of this piece.
Our rating: One of my favourite unofficial maps. Four-and-a-half stars.
(Source: SF Cityscape - PDF)
I don’t know why I feel flattered by this.
WMATA Wants a Circle Line
Faced with a serious existing core capacity crush – something that’s expected to get worse when…
8-foot giant squid pillow.
- 2 yards of felt
- 1 yard of patterned fabric (I suggest a polka dot-type pattern so it looks like suction cups)
- 1 medium piece of black felt, 1 medium piece of white felt (for the eyes)
- white thread, black thread and thread of the same color as the felt you’re using
- about 5 lbs. of stuffing
- a couple big sheets of paper to draw your pattern
You can find many of these things down at the many places on Fabric Row, on 4th Street between Bainbridge and Catherine. Pearl, at 417 South Street, sometimes has stuffing if you can’t find any.
First, you need to draw out your patterns. Here’s a basic template to get you started, although most of the measurements are reasonably fudgeable. If in the likely event you don’t have any four-foot-long pieces of paper lying around, just tape a few pieces together.
Once you’ve drawn out your eight patterns, it’s time to cut the fabric. Pin the pattern to the fabric, laid flat, and cut out the following, leaving a half an inch or so of extra fabric around the edge of the pattern:
FOR THE ARMS: 8 felt and 8 fabric cutouts of piece 1
FOR THE, UH, LONGER ARMS: 2 felt and 2 fabric cutouts of piece 2
FOR THE BODY: 2 felt cutouts of piece 3
FOR THE FIN: 4 felt cutouts of piece 4
FOR THE HEAD: 1 felt cutouts of piece 6
FOR THE EYES: 2 white felt cutouts of piece 7 and 2 black felt cutouts of piece 8
So now you’ve got all your pieces ready, it’s time to start sewing them together. I did mine by hand because my sewing machine is busted and I get a kind of Zen buzz from sewing by hand, but if you have a non-busted one I recommend that you use it as it will be MUCH EASIER. You’re going to be sewing everything with the nice side of the fabric facing in, then turning it inside out to stuff it.
THE ARMS: Pin together one patterned fabric piece 1 and one felt piece 1 (with the nice sides facing the inside). Sew down around the U-shape and back up, leaving the top open. Then turn the arm inside out, stuff it (it’s easiest to do both of these things if you sort of scrunch it up like you’re trying to put on a pair of tights, excuse the non-dude-friendly reference) and sew the top closed. Do the same for the other seven arms and rejoice in the fact that this is the most tedious part. Same deal with the two long arms, they’re just harder to stuff.
THE FINS: Pin together two of your piece 4s and sew together the curvy outer edge. Turn the piece inside out, so the seam you just sewed is on the inside, and start sewing up the other side, stuffing gradually as you go along. You should end up with a triangle-ish puffy thing. Repeat for the other two piece 4s.
THE BODY: Put down one piece 3, then place the two fins you have down with the point up and the curvy side pointing in, then make a sandwich by putting the other piece 3 down on top. Pin it all together and sew around the edges with the two fins still inside, as shown. Turn it inside out and move on to…
THE HEAD: So take piece 6 and the ten arms you’ve already done. Lay the arms, fabric side facing you, out with the arms’ top seams in a line half an inch from the top of piece 6. The order should be arm arm arm arm BIG ARM arm arm arm arm BIG ARM. The legs should be almost entirely covering piece 6. Pin them in place and sew a straight line through the individual legs seams to attach the legs to piece 6.
When you pick up the other side of piece 6, you now have something resembling a really weird untied hula skirt. Sew together the two 9-inch ends of piece 6 with the fabric side of the arms on the outside, and keep it inside out for the moment.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: Fit the open end of the body through the arms (still fabric side facing out) and pull the edge all the way through the felt cylinder so it’s even with the edge that DOESN’T have arms attached to it. Sew around the diameters of the head cylinder and the body cylinder to attach them, then pull the legs down over the head and you’re almost done!
Stuff the body, then seal it off by sewing piece 5 over the open end (even if you do have a functional sewing machine, you’ll probably have to do this part by hand).
THE EYES: Sew the black circles on the white circles and whipstitch the eyes onto the head. You do this last because you can’t tell where they’re going to end up on the end product if you put them on before stuffing the body.