Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Incredible Tree Map of Central Park

A detail from the 36-by-26-inch folding map by Ken Chaya and Edward Sibley Barnard depicts the trees in the Ramble and its environs.  Their map includes 174 species and represents about 85 percent of the vegetation on the park’s 843 acres.
 The legend in the map enumerates trees of 174 species and shows each one's color and leaf.  Map by Ken Chaya and Edward S. Barnard

Two men who are tree-enthusiasts and graphic designers are mapping every tree in NYC’s Central Park.  So far they have mapped 19,933 trees, out of the park’s approximately 23,000.  They are doing this independently from the city’s Parks Dept., and at their own expense.  They estimate they have spent over $40,000 of their own money on the project, and 2 ½ years of their lives.  These two guys have not only inventoried the trees, but they have made a beautiful, water-proof, poster-sized folding map, for sale in the Central Park Dairy, an historic structure from the time the park was built, where milk used to be distributed to poor children and now is a gift shop, exhibit hall, and information center.  (As an interesting side note, one of the reasons that milk was distributed from the Dairy as a public service was that in those pre-regulation times, most of the milk available for sale in NYC was contaminated because the cows were being fed left-over brewery mash to cut costs, instead of hay.  The Dairy milk was fresh and un-tainted.)

 Central Park Dairy, 1870, designed by Calvert Vaux in the Victorian Gothic style. One of my favorite buildings in NYC!

Chay and Barnard’s map is called “Central Park Entire: The Definitive Illustrated Folding Map,” and is also available for sale as a folding map or a poster on their website http://centralparknature.com/  The website has some great information about the Park and the trees, plus a video about how the mapping was done.  According to the two tree mappers, there are only about 150 of the original trees remaining that were planted in the 1860’s to fulfill the Olmsted/Vauxhall design for the park. But when you think about it, that was about 150 years ago! The map also includes very nice depictions of every architectural and other built elements in the park, as well as the location of restrooms - very helpful info!  (Thanks, Amy Trexler, for sending me this link originally, way back in February, 2011!)
The Central Park Conservancy has done its own tree censuses and even has an internal GPS system that identifies individual trees in the park, but has not produced a publicly-available map.  
For those of you who are New York Times digital subscribers or who haven’t used up your 20 free articles a month, here is the story from today’s Times

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hipster-ville, USA

 The Post-Grad’s Hipsters’ Guide to Inhabitable U.S. Cities, for all of you recent graduates or about-to-be-graduates! Map by Cartographer Katie Gillett from: http://therumpus.net/2011/05/post-grad-hipsters-guide-to-inhabitable-u-s-cities/

 This map looks at normalized Google Search volumes by State for ‘hipster.’  Contrary to popular perception, Minnesota comes out as the hippest, New York only at #2.  Although Minnesota has less than 1/3rd the population of New York state, it leads the nation in searches for the term ‘hipster.’   Map source: http://www.buzzfeed.com/chrismenning/the-most-hipster-state-in-the-us

“Looking for an abundance of bike lanes, farmers' markets and bearded dudes? Then head to Minnesota, the most hipster-iffic state in the U.S., according to Buzzfeed's super-official map of American hipsterdom.  The results are actually based on search engine statistics for the word ‘hipster,’ which means that while Minnesotans are readily researching the loaded term, they're probably also most likely to deny being one. It also explains how they beat out New York — it's assumed Brooklynites already know the meaning of the word, or you know, can't be bothered to read about a far-too-frequently analyzed subculture. 
In other words, take these findings with a shaker of salt.  After all, Minnesota is also home to the country's largest shopping mall, not the largest second-hand, vintage clothing store. And as for the all the guys with bushy sideburns, plaid shirts and cans of PBR — I'm pretty sure they're just actual lumberjacks.  Curious to see how your state fared? Check out the map above.”  From http://www.nerve.com/news/current-events/the-most-hipster-state-in-the-us-isnt-new-york:

Some comments in rebuttal to the designation of Minnesota as the #1 Hipster location:

·         Wait, if it's based on amount of search of the term "hipster" doesn't that mean MN doesn't understand what hipsters are and have to do research? I've been to most of the places on that list and the coasts are way more hipster than MN (which is my home state). Minnesota still thinks food trucks are cool. Also, flared jeans are still popular here.

·         Hold on -- you're saying that Minnesota is most hipster-ish based solely on how often people search for the word "hipster"?  That makes absolutely no sense.  By that logic, 13-year-old boys must have the world's biggest boobs.

·         Easy on the Brooklyn bashing.  It is the way it is because it's full of Midwestern transplants. They aren't emulating Minnesotans.  They are more than likely Minnesotans huddled together in an ironic enclave they created in NY...

 The Fake MTA has released what they are calling a “Hipster-friendly subway map.”  Do hipsters really talk about going to Brighton Beach that much? From: The Gothamist at http://gothamist.com/2010/05/21/map_hipster_friendly_mta.php

And now, from the Left Coast, “New Real Estate Map Has Some Losing Hipster Cred, Gaining Sales Value,” map by Kaitlin Jaffe/Jennifer Rosdail, of Paragon Real Estate Group, as reported by Lynda Chavez in Mission Local at http://missionlocal.org/2010/07/new-sf-real-estate-map-has-some-losing-hipster-cred-gaining-sales-value/ 

There has been lots of push-back on this map, what with the real estate industry’s unofficial re-naming of neighborhoods in SF, extension of neighborhood boundaries to augment gentrification efforts and increase asking prices, virtual red-lining of black communities (by segregating them outside the boundaries of the hipster neighborhoods and calling them by their original names, while the white people’s (hipsters') areas have been re-named something else), and in general escalating the already crazy housing prices in the city.

As an end note to all of this, it should be mentioned that no self-respecting hipster would want to be called a hipster. Of course not! That wouldn’t be ironic enough! Anyway, in many circles they are also known by the term “douchebag-slackers,” which they don’t like, either, for some odd reason. Oh, well! What do I know! I am probably an aging hipster, myself, and have been called far worse in my day!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Public Transportation is NOT the answer?

Map of Public Transit Access in the New York Metro Area, according to the report “Missed Opportunities: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America,” by the Brookings Institute. 

In urban planning, environmental, public health, and other circles, public transportation is often held out as the answer to many of the world’s problems, especially in the U.S. (air pollution, respiratory and cardio-vascular disease, profligate use of non-renewable fossil fuels, obesity and lack of exercise, over dependence on foreign oil, traffic congestion, vehicular fatalities, stress, lack of  "community," and social isolation, etc., etc.). 
Turning this conventional wisdom on its head, the Brookings Institution, (which is ranked as the number 1 “think tank” in the U.S. and therefore has far-reaching policy influence, and has variously been called “conservative,” “liberal,” and “centrist”!) recently conducted a research study with rather disappointing (and depressing) results for those of us who have always bought into the concept of mass transit = better world/environment.  Forget about whether or not the transit options exist, or could exist given the exigencies of today’s lack of public resources.  Even if they DID exist, according to this study, it wouldn’t help most Americans to get from home to their places of employment within a 45 minute commute time.  The average American commute today (mainly by private vehicle) is 21 minutes, so a 45 minute commute is a considerable increase in time on the road (or railroad).  But even allowing for the 45 minutes threshold, most transit systems in major metro regions would not be able to get you there in that timeframe, making it extremely unlikely that people would opt for mass transit over their private automobiles.  Somewhat surprisingly, the report found that 15 of the 20 metro areas that rank highest on a combined score of transit coverage and job access are in the West.  (Really??? Salt Lake City, Tucson, and Las Vegas are among the top-ranking?  Sounds a bit dubious to me!) 
“The report is unusual in not evaluating the performance of metropolitan transit systems, but rather, ‘what they are capable of.’  Moreover, the Brookings access indicators go well beyond analyses that presume having a bus or rail stop nearby is enough, missing the point the availability of transit does not mean that it can take you where you need to go in a reasonable period of time.” (Wendell Cox, of newgeography)
This, of course, is not to blame public transit systems for the length of time required to get from point “A” to point “B.”  Rather, it is due to the increasing dispersion of jobs away from the downtown areas of the cities, which generally are (or could be) well-served by transit options, as well as the general sprawl of residential suburbs to areas outside of easy (and direct) public transit commuting options. 
            According to their report, only 7% of the jobs in the U.S. would be accessible within 45 minutes by public transportation.  I need to see their methods on how they figured out the issue of access and how they calculated the commute times.  But if the methods and their results are valid, then we have a bigger problem on our hands than just finding the money to throw at public transportation financing.  Is it too late to turn the tide on the faulty land use planning policies of the past 60 years (since the post-WWII period)?  Can we reverse the trend of massive decentralization and dispersion of both homes and jobs? Can we stop the madness of land consumption and development of our agricultural and "natural" areas near our cities? Can we create policies that will encourage jobs to remain in the areas well-provisioned by easy public transit? Is it possible to refocus American priorities away from ¼ acre lots in the suburbs?  Can cities once again be desirable places to live for middle class families, and not just be warehouses for the very poor and playgrounds for the wealthy, the tourists, and the young urban hipsters?

You can read the full article on the website “newgeography” at:

Really good interactive map of about 100 metro areas’ access to transit, (you can zoom to specific metro areas, filter by income level, and look at transit coverage, service frequency, job access, and travel time, etc.)

The Brookings report “Missed Opportunities: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America,” can be accessed at: http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2011/0512_jobs_and_transit.aspx and full report pdf at: http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/Programs/Metro/jobs_transit/0512_jobs_transit.pdf

Explaining the findings of the Brookings Report (interesting rebuttal of some of the criticisms of the study):

Another example of their maps and stats – this one for Oklahoma City, OK. 

Capability of Transit: 45-Minute Job Access in Metropolitan Areas over 2,000,000 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Spring Tornadoes in the Southern US

Over the last three months, nearly 1,400 tornadoes have been reported, most of them in the southeastern U.S.  The map shows the location reports day-by-day. Over 120 people were killed in Joplin, MO after a tornado swept through the town on Sunday night, May 22nd.   See the animated map at:
Thanks, Kristen, for sending me the link!

Also, see interactive aerial photos of Joplin, MO, before and after the tornado. It's pretty dramatic - The Greenbriar Nursing Home, for instance, is just totally gone in the "after" photos. Photos by M.J. Harden / GeoEye, at:

Another good New York Times interactive feature is the map series "The Deadliest Years," which combines a point map of tornado touchdown sites AND a proportional symbol map showing numbers of associated deaths.  With nearly 500 tornado-related deaths so far, 2011 has already shaped up to be the deadliest year since 1953, when there were 519 deaths. What is pretty surprising as you play the time series sequence, is that in almost every year there are at least a few dozen tornado-related deaths, and in some years, hundreds of deaths.   

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Satellites monitor Icelandic ash plume from the Grímsvötn volcano

“The animation shows the forecast positions of volcanic ash (total column in units of g/m2) from 20.00 GMT on 21 May to 06.00 on 27 May from the Grímsvötn volcanic eruption. The emission source varies in time and assumes a uniform height profile up to the reported plume heights measured by radar. It is also constrained by total fine ash mass determined by satellite.  From: The European Space Agency at http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEM3WUMSNNG_index_1.html
The website has other animations that are interesting, also. 

“With erupting Icelandic volcanoes seemingly becoming an annual event, Adam Burt has overhauled his ash-cloud visualization tool for Google Earth, which he first made for Eyjafjallajökull’s eruption in June of 2010. Based on data gleaned every six hours from theUK Met office, the resulting network link visualizes ash density from Grimsvötn at different times and airspace heights, and can be played as an animation. Here it is — open in Google Earth.”  The Google Earth visualization gives you a good perspective on the extent and direction of the ash plume - we typically think in terms of a 2-D map, with the plume going east towards Europe or west towards North America, but it is also going north over the North Pole to affect Asia, as well. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Geography Beach Books

Maps feature prominently in many of Vermeer’s paintings, including this one, “Officer and Laughing Girl,” 1655.  This map of Holland and West Friesland (east is on top) was designed by Balthasar Florisz. van Berckenrode in 1620.  Van Berckenrode delivered twelve copies of it to the States General for 144 pounds.  Only one is in existence today, and it is from a later printing of the map from the copper plates, which Van Berckenrode sold to Willem Jansz. Blaeu, along with the rights to print the map, when he fell upon hard times.  Blaeu, who was the official cartographer of the Dutch East India Company,  is well-known today as one of the premier map-makers of his day, creating some of the most complete maps of the New World for their time.   

Geography Beach Books: No, it’s not an oxymoron!  Why can’t Geography books also be lazy-hazy-daisy summer reading by the pool, lake, ocean, mountains, park, wherever-you-happen-to-be during the glorious long days of summer?  No reason at all why not!
OK, so here are some of the things I’ve read recently (and not so recently) that I think are worthwhile, and also some books that I haven’t read but would like to read – they look interesting.  The ones with stars next to them are “Map Monkey’s picks.”  For the others, you’re on your own!  As I read any of them, I will update my reviews. 
These are my recommended Geography Reads for the Summer – my strange version of Beach Books!  BTW, Most of these books listed in the first section are available as paperbacks, so they're perfect for the beach, train, or airport! 

***Vermeer’s Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World
Timothy Brook, Bloomsbury Press, 2008
NOTE FROM MAP MONKEY: OK, so “Geography” is not in the title of this book, but it is ALL ABOUT GEOGRAPHY!  This was one of my favorite books I read last year – and not just because I have an affinity for things Dutch!  Brook weaves together some amazing webs of global economic and cultural trade (not to mention networks of disease transmission, religion, and language!) and it is just terrifically entertaining.  And he teases out these relationships by picking apart the iconography of Vermeer’s paintings – very clever and fun. 

*The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape
James Kunstler, Free Press, 1994
NOTE FROM MAP MONKEY:  This is a very good read, and although it is from 17 years ago, still is extremely applicable today.  When this book was first published, it was quite controversial and very influential in urban geography/urban planning circles. 

*You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination
Katherine Harmon, Princeton, 2003
NOTE FROM MAP MONKEY:  This is another older publication, but a really nice read. 

**The Fourth Part of the World: The Race to the Ends of the Earth, and the Epic Story of the Map that Gave America its Name
Toby Lester, Free Press, 2009
NOTE FROM MAP MONKEY: This is a very entertaining overview of cartographic history plus some little known tid-bits of geographical and cartographic trivia, disguised painlessly as a kind of a who-done-it, and very enjoyable. 

*The Fabric of America: How our Borders and Boundaries Shaped the Country and Forged our National Identity
Andro Linklater, author of “Measuring America,” another good book.  Walker and Company, 2007
NOTE FROM MAP MONKEY:  If you like American history, you will enjoy this book.  It is well-written, and really gives a lot of background of how our country got to be the way it is, and most of us don’t know squat about that, so, inform yourselves, and read this book!  And if you don’t think you like American history, you may have a change of heart after reading it. 

***Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer
Peter Turchi, Trinity University Press, 2007
NOTE FROM MAP MONKEY:  I discussed this book at length in a previous blog posting at http://geographer-at-large.blogspot.com/2011/02/maps-of-imagination.html

**The Atlas of the Real World: Mapping the Way We Live
Danny Dorling, et al.
Thames and Hudson, 2010
NOTE FROM MAP MONKEY:  This book was reviewed by Gretchen Culp in my blog at
so check it out. 

**Strange Maps: An Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities
Frank Jacobs
Viking Studio, 2009
NOTE FROM MAP MONKEY:  Frank Jacobs may be no stranger to many of you – he is the author of one of the best map blogs around, and it has been around for many years.  Check out his Strange Maps blog at:  http://bigthink.com/blogs/strange-maps
This book, with beautiful reproductions of some obscure and well, strange, maps from over the centuries, is a distillation of some of his blog material.  It’s worth it to have the maps in hand rather than on screen, for a change. 

*A Voyage Long and Strange: On the Trail of Vikings, Conquistadors, Lost Colonists, and Other Adventurers in Early America
Tony Horowitz
Henry Holt & Co., 2008
NOTE FROM MAP MONKEY: Tony Horowitz is the author of Blue Latitudes, another favorite of mine.  He writes in a very conversational and accessible style, and has done a masterful job in ferreting out all sorts of arcane knowledge about early American history and geography.  If you are one of those who thinks that American history begins and ends with Columbus sailing the ocean blue in 14 hundred and 92, and the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock more than 100 years later, this book will be a real treat, and introduce you to some of the wilder and more obscure aspects of our formative early history, in places that you may not have thought about having much to do with early America.  The book’s focus on non-Anglo events and geographies is also very refreshing. 

*Tuva or Bust! Richard Feynman’s Last Journey
Ralph Leighton
WW Norton, 2000
NOTE FROM MAP MONKEY: I picked this book up in Metsker's Map Store in Seattle last month, and it was quite a good read.  It is a funny and poignant look at the renowned physicist, Richard Feynman, and his obsession with trying to get to travel to a little-known country in central Asia called Tuva.  It is a Republic within the Federation of Russian States, and before that was an Autonomous Oblast in the USSR, but for one brief period in the 1920s-1930s, it was an independent nation, and apparently issued some of the most beautiful and unusual postage stamps in the world, which is how Feynman became interested in the place when he was a boy.  The book details the ins and outs of his decades-long struggle to go there. The Soviet Union kept Tuva completely closed to the outside world for over 50 years.  Tuva contains the geographical center of Asia, and its people practice a unique musical vocal form connected with animism, called "throat-singing," which produces several harmonic notes at once from the same person. Listen to a podcast about throat signing at  http://onpoint.wbur.org/2006/01/13/the-art-of-tuva-throat-singing  Also, see the video "The Quest For Tannu Tuva: Richard Feynman - The Last Journey of a Genius (1988)" at http://www.scholarspot.com/video/148/4414/Richard-Feynman-The-Last-Journey-Of-A-Genius-1988-
See recent blog posting for detailed review: http://geographer-at-large.blogspot.com/2011/05/tuva-or-bust-last-journey-of-genius.html 

Then there are also a few books I discussed in previous postings that I would definitely recommend as worthwhile reading:
The Past is a Foreign Country, by David Lowenthal (who was the keynote speaker at this year’s AAG meeting in Seattle) mentioned in: http://geographer-at-large.blogspot.com/2011/01/few-more-cool-websites-for-your-viewing.html
How the Other Half Lives, by Jacob Riis.  This is a classic that everyone interested in urban geography, history, planning, should read at some point, and was discussed in http://geographer-at-large.blogspot.com/2011/01/how-other-half-lives-tenement-life-in.html
For those interested in NYC in particular, check out all the NYC books that I enumerated in http://geographer-at-large.blogspot.com/2011/01/become-instant-new-york-city-expert.html

These are some titles that I would like to check out, time permitting, this summer.  I can’t vouch for any of them yet, so if you do read one, please send me your opinions

Magnificent Maps: Power, Propaganda and Art
Peter Barber, British Library, 2010
NOTE FROM MAP MONKEY:  This book coordinates with the Magnificent Maps Exhibit that I wrote about in my blog posting http://geographer-at-large.blogspot.com/2011/01/magnificent-maps-snow-taxi-cabs-road.html

Maps: Finding Our Place in the World
James Akerman, University of Chicago Press, 2007

To the Ends of the Earth: 100 Maps That Changed the World
Jeremy Harwood, David and Charles, 2006

An Atlas of Radical Cartography
Avery Gordon, Journal of Aesthetics and Protest Press, 2008

Else/Where: Mapping — New Cartographies of Networks and Territories
Janet Abrams and Peter Hall, University of Minnesota Design Institute, 2006

Experimental Geography: Radical Approaches to Landscape, Cartography, and Urbanism
Nato Thompson, Melville House, 2009

Seeking Spatial Justice (Globalization and Community)
Edward Soja, University of Minnesota Press, 2010

The Point Is To Change It: Geographies of Hope and Survival in an Age of Crisis (Antipode Book Series), Noel Castree, Paul Chatterton, Nik Heynen, and Wendy Larner
Wiley-Blackwell, 2010
NOTE FROM MAP MONKEY:  I haven’t read this one, but it is definitely on my to-do list for the summer!  I’ve heard good things about it, and the all-star author list is impressive (well, in geography circles, anyway!). 

From Here to There: A Curious Collection from the Hand Drawn Map Association
Kris Harzinski, Princeton Architectural Press, 2009

New Worlds: Maps From the Age of Discovery
Ashley Baynton-Williams, Quercus, 2009

Mapping New York
Black Dog Publishing (editor), Black Dog Publishing, 2010

Atlas of the Transatlatic Slave Trade
David Eltis and David Richardson, Yale University Press, 2010

The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography
Katherine Harmon, Princeton Architectural Press, 2010
NOTE FROM MAP MONKEY: This is the new book by the author of You are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination, (see first section, above). 

Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline
Anthony Grafton and Daniel Rosenberg, Princeton Architectural Press, 2010

The Image of the World: 20 Centuries of World Maps
Peter Whitfield, British Library, 2010
NOTE FROM MAP MONKEY:  Whitfield also wrote “Newfound Lands: Maps in the History of Exploration,” a very excellent book, as well as “London: A Life in Maps,” and “Cities of the World: A History in Maps,” among others.  

The “Dangerous Epidemic” of Historic Preservation: A Force for Gentrification and Social Displacement?

"The objects/sites/landscapes/seascapes/moonscapes that are to be preserved increase in scale and are without an apparent upper limit,” From the Rem Koolhaus exhibit “Cronocaos” at the New Museum.  Koolhaus claims that 12% of the earth’s surface is already landmarked by groups like Unesco.
Rem Koolhaus, the austere and some might say “maverick” Dutch architect, has done it again – acting as a provocateur and stirring up some much needed discussion about the objectives and results of historic preservation, especially in our cities.  Koolhaus has been known to come up with theories that are thought-provoking (an understatement!), starting with “Delirious New York,” his 1978 “Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan,” which makes the case that New York is the venue for the terminal phase of Western civilization, the “Culture of Congestion.”  Now he gives us “Cronocaos.” (Apparently he has something against "H's.")
The following is excerpted from the May 23, 2011 New York Times article by Nicolai Ouroussoff:
“Has preservation become a dangerous epidemic? Is it destroying our cities?  That’s the conclusion you may come to after seeing “Cronocaos” at the New Museum.  Organized by Rem Koolhaas and Shohei Shigematsu, a partner in Mr. Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture, the show draws on ideas that have been floating around architectural circles for several years now — particularly the view among many academics that preservation movements around the world, working hand in hand with governments and developers, have become a force for gentrification and social displacement, driving out the poor to make room for wealthy homeowners and tourists.
Mr. Koolhaas’s vision is even more apocalyptic. A skilled provocateur, he paints a picture of an army of well-meaning but clueless preservationists who, in their zeal to protect the world’s architectural legacies, end up debasing them by creating tasteful scenery for docile consumers while airbrushing out the most difficult chapters of history.  The result, he argues, is a new form of historical amnesia, one that, perversely, only further alienates us from the past.
Cronocaos’ was first shown at the 2010 architecture biennale in Venice, the ultimate example of what can happen to an aged city when it is repackaged for tourists.  In New York the show is housed in a former restaurant-supply store next to the museum on the Bowery, in a neighborhood where the threats to urban diversity include culture as well as tourism.  The Bowery’s lively bar scene has been pushed out by galleries and boutiques. CBGB, the former rock club, is a John Varvatos store.” 

“Cronocaos” is on view through June 5 at the New Museum, 235 Bowery, at Prince Street, Lower East Side; (212) 219-1222, newmuseum.org.
  “Two conflicting ideologies continue to subject preservation to systematic schizophrenia between RUIN and RESTORATION.  Preservation needs a ‘unified field” theory to resolve the contradiction.”  From the “Cronocaos” exhibit.  Photo by designboom

“Preservation and Modernity are not opposites.  Preservation was ‘invented’ as part of a ground-swell of modern innovation between the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution in England, in a maelstrom of change.”  From the “Cronocaos” exhibit.  Photo by designboom

From the architect’s website (OMA) “Cronocaos,” at the Venice Biennale, 2010:

Other (and some opposing) viewpoints on the exhibit and Koolhaus’ theories:

Preservation and its discontents:

rem koolhaas / OMA : CRONOCAOS preservation tour:

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Map of America’s Tomorrow – A Visualization of the Changing Face of America

U.S. Counties projected to have more than 50% minority population in 2040.  
Source: Policy Link.org

Policy Link has put out an animated time series map of U.S. counties showing minority population percentages from 1990, 2000, 2010, and their projections of minority population percentages for 2020, 2030, and 2040.  This was just published on-line a few days ago, and has become something of a flash point in the media, as well as amongst entities like the Tea Party, as you can imagine. 
The upshot of their analysis is that by 2042, the nation will be a majority of people of color.  In other words, a majority of those who we refer to today as “minorities.”  Although these populations will not be the majority in all parts of the country, in many counties they will constitute close to 100% of the population.  It would be nice to see these maps alongside some pop density maps, so we could compare high percentages with high absolute numbers of population. It is interesting to contemplate the implications of this geographic distribution of people of color, who will predominate in the rural south and southwest, and in the most highly urbanized areas throughout the nation. 

This is what the Policy Link website says about their map series: 

“PolicyLink has released ‘The Map of America’s Tomorrow,’ a new interactive time-lapse map showing – for the first time – the growth of people of color in America from 1990 through 2040.  Census projections have long shown that people of color will soon be our nation's majority.  And yet there's been no visualization of what this future will actually look like – until now.
In less than 24 hours, the map has received over 100,000 views (and counting) and has been viewed in 135 countries.  Harlem Children Zone's Geoff Canada used it as the centerpiece for a presentation he gave on ‘How to End Poverty’ at the Google Zeitgeist Festival in London this week.  The Daily Beast's Andrew Sullivan has also joined in, describing the video yesterday as ‘The Browning of America.’
“‘This map makes crystal clear just how dramatically the face of America is changing – and how quickly,’ said Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder & CEO of PolicyLink. ‘Already, nearly half of all young people are of color, and by 2042, people of color will become our nation's majority.  Clearly, this snapshot of our future has struck a chord, leaving no doubt that we must invest in and start building the foundation of tomorrow's America today. Let's start now.’
This map is the first installment of America's Tomorrow: Equity in a Changing Nation’ – a new multimedia series exploring America's changing demographics and the leaders who are making a difference.” 

You can see the animated time-series map, 1990-2040, at:

The methodology used for the projections are given in the Technical Summary by Woods and Poole, and summarized in part here:
“The methods used by Woods & Poole to generate the county projections proceed in four stages.  First, forecasts to 2040 of total United States personal income, earnings by industry, employment by industry, population, inflation, and other variables are made. In the 2011 Woods & Poole model the U.S. forecast included an estimate of the 2008-09 recession using preliminary employment data for 2009 and 2010 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Second, the country is divided into 179 Economic Areas (EAs) as defined by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA).  The EAs are aggregates of contiguous counties that attempt to measure cohesive economic regions in the United States (a list of all EAs and their component counties can be found in Appendix 6 following this chapter); in the 2011 Woods & Poole model, EA definitions released by the BEA in May 2007 are used. For each EA, a projection is made for employment, using an “export-base” approach; in some cases, the employment projections are adjusted to reflect the results of individual EA models or exogenous information about the EA economy.  The employment projection for each EA is then used to estimate earnings in each EA.  The employment and earnings projections then become the principal explanatory variables used to estimate population and number of households in each EA.
The third stage is to project population by age, sex, and race for each EA on the basis of net migration rates projected from employment opportunities.
For stages two and three, the U.S. projection is the control total for the EA projections. The fourth stage replicates stages two and three except that it is performed at the county level, using the EAs as the control total for the county projections."

Technical description of methodology at:

Also, for those interested in health equity issues, check out the Policy Link Center for Health and Place at:

And also a publication called “Why Place and Race Matters,” at