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Mapping the census

Every city, every block

The New York Times is providing an interesting presentation of recent U.S. census data. The reader can choose “any city, any block” in the country and view a map showing ethnic distributions for the area, represented by colored dots. There are options to zoom in and out and/or to view separate overlays for each ethnicity (more meaningful when viewing larger areas). For those who don’t care for dots or overlays, mousing over a small area or “census tract” brings up a text box showing the breakdown in percentages. Zoom out a bit and the same mouseover shows breakdowns by county.

Overall, this is an elegant compilation and graphic display of census data. Sociologists, community planners, map enthusiasts, newcomers, students — there’s broad appeal in a project like this. And for those not interested in the ethnic breakdown per se, it’s still interesting to examine the differences in population density between, say, NYC and Denver. Or between downtown areas and the suburbs. Or zoom out and see the density patterns for entire states, regions, or the nation.

Maps. For explorers of all kinds.



  1. I love maps, Susan. Always have.

    This example of course demonstrates the power of the computer, and in this case I am sorry to see it – not because it isn’t interesting but because it will be used to gerrymander, a principal evil of the current political divide. I submit that one could make a good case for dropping the race question from the census entirely.

  2. While I agree, in principle, with Jim’s point, I still love the way this thing works. I see examples all the time of really cool things done with Google Maps and Google Earth, but I can’t figure out how they’re done for the life of me!

"There is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it, If only we’re brave enough to be it." ~ Amanda Gorman

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