How well do you know the U.S.? Could you mark all 50 states on a map? Do you rattle off state capitals like they're family members? If yes, you'll probably love the r/MapPorn Reddit community that celebrates all things cartography.
Created by Patrick McGranaghan, a land surveyor in Colorado, in May 2011, the community currently has a little over 1 million members. With cartography fans flooding the subreddit with all kinds of maps, McGranaghan did an analysis of its most popular posts from the past year and a half to determine the common traits between them.
Tagging them based on the content, style, and subject matter, McGranaghan determined that the most popular subject was history. "In this category, the most popular maps were about World War II," he told Bored Panda. "Another popular category was natural science. Especially popular are maps about wildlife, such as those that use tracking data to show animal migration patterns. Other topics included geology and astronomic maps. Another topic that I grouped together is 'political re-alignments'. These are maps that deal with boundaries. Subjects like separatist movements, re-drawing borders, and user-created idealizations. Many of these are satirical and funny."
However, not all of these maps are strictly scientific. "I think the data is a bit noisy, but it's interesting nonetheless. Users sometimes want a magic formula to make their maps go viral and I don't think there is one. The tastes of the masses are fickle and change over time," said McGranaghan. "All maps are generalizations, some good, some bad. They are not true representations and a good 'reader' should know that. I think good data visualization will take disparate datasets and find meaningful connections that weren't known before."
Here are 24 such not-strictly scientific maps of the US that you might find interesting:
1. US watersheds
2. Most commonly spoken language in the US after English and Spanish
3. Most common last name in the United States by state
4. The United States of America: Alaskan perspective
5. States with a smaller population than Los Angeles County
6. Red and orange areas have equal populations
7. United States population lines
8. The most efficient route between every Springfield in the United States
9. The US mapped by residents’ desire to move to a different state
10. Most common country of birth for foreign-born residents, excluding Mexico
11. Every state's least favorite state
12. The states scaled proportionally to population density
13. How much snow does it usually take to cancel schools?
14. More people live inside the red area than the grey area
15. How America utilizes its land
16. Percentage of people born outside the US in each state
17. US education spending map
18. Light pollution
19. Map of the United States' 8 million miles of roads, streets, and highways