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Thread: Project - Re-Imagining the United States

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    Default Project - Re-Imagining the United States

    Many state boundaries make no sense. With this (draft) map, I redrew the state boundaries using existing counties to give proper consideration to regional similarities in geography, climate, and culture. I used natural barriers such as rivers and mountain ranges to separate states, and natural commonalities such as watersheds and valleys as guides. I proposed new state names based on central geographic features, historic regional names, and (using a convention from many current state names) local Native American tribes. I also picked state capitols for their centrality and influence. Some states got bigger, some got smaller, and some didn't change at all.

    I WANT YOUR INPUT!
    I live in the Northwest, and have traveled through much of the US, but I don't pretend to be an expert on all regions. Let me know what works, and what doesn't. If you see something that doesn't make sense, tell me, and I will change it.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Project - Re-Imagining the United States-united-states-county-map.gif  

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    Very cool map.

    One quick question: Some of the new states don't have state names, just capitols. Is there a reason for that? I specifically noticed it in the central states where Topeka, Colombia and Galesburg are the capitols, though other areas had this omission as well. (I live in Kansas and so naturally checked here immediately to see what you did to my home. No real qualms with your divisions, they make perfect sense, but I was just curious on the names.)

    Also, though this would take more work, but it would be really cool to take this map and overlay it with a terrain map and then redraw some of the boundaries to match up more closely with mountain ranges and streams/rivers. Specifically I'm thinking out west where you still end up with a bunch of long straight lines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Powell View Post
    Very cool map.

    One quick question: Some of the new states don't have state names, just capitols. Is there a reason for that? I specifically noticed it in the central states where Topeka, Colombia and Galesburg are the capitols, though other areas had this omission as well. (I live in Kansas and so naturally checked here immediately to see what you did to my home. No real qualms with your divisions, they make perfect sense, but I was just curious on the names.)

    Also, though this would take more work, but it would be really cool to take this map and overlay it with a terrain map and then redraw some of the boundaries to match up more closely with mountain ranges and streams/rivers. Specifically I'm thinking out west where you still end up with a bunch of long straight lines.
    The reason is I just couldn't think of a good name - I would encourage ideas. When I have received lots of feedback and made any pertinent corrections, I would love to make a "nice" looking map with terrain. You think the Eastern Kansas/Western Missouri area makes sense? Any other areas in that region that should be changed?

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      Chashio is online now
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    Interesting project. Your title is sort of vague on what is meant by 'statistically equivalent areas' - and it could be nice or wonderful to have some info included in scattered boxes about your reasoning for various changes to specific areas. Such as why you lumped New England together? I live there, so I'm rather curious.

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    Yeah, that area made sense to me. I would point out that both Missouri and Kansas are based on tribal names, so, you could stick with those for those regions. Perhaps not coincidentally, the two areas of those states that you have not named roughly coincide with where those tribes lived. So the Topeka state could still be called Kansas (or Kansa) and the Colombia area could still be called Missouri.

    Also, the area around Chicago and Green Bay was settled by the Potawatomi, so that could be a name instead of West Michigan. The Galesburg state could possibly be called Illinois since it is named after the native tribe the Illini, though, I'm not sure if their natural territory actually overlaps with what you have here.

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      kolgrim is offline
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    Wow, what a cool idea. Really fun to think about.

    I would suggest some more consideration for cultural divisions. New York City and Long Island might be their own separate states from the rest of New York. I'm also not sure that all those folks you've put into New England would except the lack of distinction. I could also see a north south devision in Florida. Ah, mythical Cascadia, how you were such a part of my youth (so glad you put that in there). Oh, I also like how New Jersey has remained 'New Jersey'. I could also see the oil companies owning a few states in Alaska.

    Is this a 'what if we reorganized everything today' sort of project? Or a 'what if the states developed over time differently than they did'?

    Well, you've certainly got my brain humming. Look forward to seeing your revisions.

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    This is pretty neat. How many states does this end up having?

    Has anyone seen the program on History ( I think) called How the States Got Their Shapes? I always enjoy it when I catch it, generally pretty interesting.

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    Interesting project!

    Though, as a geographer, I can't let this uncommented:
    I used natural barriers such as rivers and mountain ranges to separate states, and natural commonalities such as watersheds and valleys as guides.
    There are no such things as "natural borders" (even if you call them barriers)!
    For example, let's have a look at the Mississippi and other rivers in the MM-system: You used them as borders, not only between counties, even between states! Why?
    Think about it: Do the left abutters of the river have more in common with the right abutters of the same river, or with some guys that live a two hours drive away from the river? Wouldn't projects like flood protections, harbour areas and the like be easier if there was only one authority in charge and not two competing and disputing ones?
    Therefore, wouldn't watersheds make better borders?

    Sorry about the rant, but the term "natural border" just annoys me.
    I know, it's and old problem and still used in contemporary geopolitical work, but it's mostly crap. Rivers (and to a lesser extent, mountain ranges) may have some use as an international border if you aren't really at peace with your neighbour on the other side, but once inside a county, it turns into a problem.
    Conversation at university while writing our group report:
    "I'll make a map." - "We don't need a map, we only interviewed some people." - " I know, but it won't stop me from making one."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Niall Mackay View Post
    Interesting project!

    Though, as a geographer, I can't let this uncommented:

    There are no such things as "natural borders" (even if you call them barriers)!
    For example, let's have a look at the Mississippi and other rivers in the MM-system: You used them as borders, not only between counties, even between states! Why?
    Think about it: Do the left abutters of the river have more in common with the right abutters of the same river, or with some guys that live a two hours drive away from the river? Wouldn't projects like flood protections, harbour areas and the like be easier if there was only one authority in charge and not two competing and disputing ones?
    Therefore, wouldn't watersheds make better borders?

    Sorry about the rant, but the term "natural border" just annoys me.
    I know, it's and old problem and still used in contemporary geopolitical work, but it's mostly crap. Rivers (and to a lesser extent, mountain ranges) may have some use as an international border if you aren't really at peace with your neighbour on the other side, but once inside a county, it turns into a problem.
    While I agree on their being no natural borders (the very idea of a "border" is a human construct) I think you're being a bit harsh here. I read their post as they were using natural barriers as logical territorial end points. In this instance "barrier" isn't a euphemism for "border", it's exactly what it means; "barrier" - an impassable obstacle. Having a river or mountain range through the middle of a territory doesn't make any sense at all if you can't cross it, which is why historically they were frequently used as borders.

    ETA... You also lump both mountain ranges and rivers into your rant, but then suggest that watersheds make better borders. Well watersheds are generally found in mountains...

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    Pretty interesting idea you've got going on here.

    A small note from a Colorado Native: For the new version of Colorado (the western half, not Arapahoe) I wouldn't suggest Glenwood Springs as the Capital. It's true that it is quite centralized and may draw more attention (due to its value as a tourist site)... but I think Grand Junction would make a much more logical and practical choice for the capital of that region. For a few reasons:

    It's got a major set of railway intersections, as well as having some major highway intersections. The highways that pass through Junction are the main entry points for the surrounding valleys that border the Grand Junction valley. You really can't get down into the southern part of the new version of Colorado (Delta, Mesa, Montrose counties) without going through Grand Junction. Add the fact that it's got a lot of major businesses and buildings in it - including all of the surrounding agricultural products basically get shipped and distributed through it.

    Glenwood Springs is more of a tourist location. It's full of hot springs, novelty shops - and is packed into a narrow canyon valley with only two useful entry points - compared to Junction being surrounded by offshoot highways into the surrounding region's valley network.

    Just my thoughts.

    Great work so far though - extremely interesting.

    EDIT: Grand Junction also has a fairly decent sized airport (for a non-major city). I'm not even sure if Glenwood has an airport that will take anything other than personal planes/jets and very small aircraft. Junction's takes smaller jet-liner transit planes. Something that's pretty important to have in a capital city.
    Last edited by Veluux; 08-28-2013 at 08:36 PM.

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