Map Of The Week

For as long as it has been around, the United States has presented itself as a melting  pot, seemingly offering refuge for those fleeing violence, freedom for those being oppressed, or simply a blank slate for those who wish for a new start. The very essence of the mythic American dream is that anyone from any background can come here and thrive. However in the early twentieth century, this concept was challenged by a growing hatred and distrust of  foreigners in response to the sudden influx of immigrants entering the country. Many believed the American population was straying too far away from the “ideal mix”. These anti-immigrant and nationalist sentiments deepened even further in the years leading up to the Second World War, which brings us to the creation of this map. “America – A Nation Of One People From Many Countries” was created by Emma Bourne in 1940 after being commissioned by the Council Against Intolerance in America. While limited information is available on Bourne, the Council Against Intolerance in America emerged during this time to help unify the changing nation. The council’s intention to “promote tolerance through education” and to “counteract the propaganda of racial and religious prejudice which seeks to divide America” is clearly evident in this map.

One of the more noticeable and superficial characteristics of the map is its artistic nature. Instead of the scientific symbols and typonyms that are typically plastered across cartographic works, this map has a more illustrative storytelling approach to American geography. Bourne uses popular imagery to convey the culture of different areas across the country such as the growing manufacturing industry in the North East or the plantations along gulf in the south. The figures in which the map is centered around are also all portrayed in action, giving the map a dynamic look, as if it is capturing the American nation in a moment in time. To add to the artistic nature of the map, Bourne also places boats along the nation’s coasts to imply that there is a constant buzz surrounding the country. Whether it’s more people coming to embark on their “American dream” or a freight ship hauling in another load of imports from a trusted business ally, these drawings allow viewers to imagine and expand on the already present story.

While distinctive, the artistic style is only one portion of this map. As mentioned above, this map was commissioned by The Council Against Intolerance in America with the intent to combat rising anti-immigrant opinions and unite the country during these war-ridden years. Bourne achieves this sense of togetherness in two different ways, most noticeably through the absence of state borders. Through the omission of these boundaries as well as any additional spatial indications such as city names, the country as a whole becomes much more connected, as it flows from one coast to the other without interruption. The use of the prominent red ribbon throughout the map also helps achieve this feeling of harmony as it winds between different enthic and cultural groups, joining them together as it goes.

Most importantly, however, this map was used as a way to convince the American public of the importance of immigrants to the country. The main way Bourne does this is by showing their significant role in the American economy.  From Polish people serving in the coal industry in New York, to Germans plowing fields in North Dakota, to Armenians working in Californian vineyards, this map highlights how much the U.S. relies on immigrants to keep its economy moving. At a time in which it seemed all other sources of stability were gone, the reassurance of a reliable and even prosperous economy was undeniably comforting. When viewing this map, Americans had no choice but to feel some sense of gratitude towards these immigrant populations.

Beyond the economic argument this map makes in favor of the country’s minority groups, there are also important intellectual and cultural supporting points. Instead of the typical legends that contain information such as symbol meanings and scale information, this map contains a key with information regarding famous non-Americans and their achievements. Sorted into four categories: Literature, Science, Industry, and The Arts, this legend argues the widespread knowledge and progress that such immigrants can and already have brought the country. Individuals’ names are listed under their respective category along with their specific profession and what country they originate from. Names such as Ernest Hemingway, Albert Einstein, and the Barrymores are all featured in this borderline boastful compilation in an attempt to cultivate a sense of pride and admiration for America’s immigrant population.

Despite this collection of significant figures of society, the legend also serves the typical role of decoding. Underneath the list of names, the legend explains the use of symbols throughout the map. Four images that can be seen across the map are listed as well as the religion that they represent, along with the number of people who identify with that religion. While nearby text states that there are over one hundred and fifty religious bodies within the country, this map questionably chooses to only represent four main branches: Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, and Eastern Orthodox. In addition to the key, the country’s religious variety is also shown in additional text boxes in the upper right hand corner. Here, the home countries of the largest immigrant populations are listed along with the primary religion(s) of those immigrants. Bourne drives home this point of U.S. diversity one last time through the use of the red ribbon on the map itself, once again using it as a way to unite the different groups. By placing ethnic groups along with their religion on the ribbon in the location in which they typically reside, it not only gives the viewers a concrete image of the new cultural layout of America, but it also subconsciously ties seemingly unrelated groups of people together, counteracting the growing divisions within the country.

Generally speaking, “America – A Nation Of One People From Many Countries” was created with an admirable goal- to unite people. However, upon further inspection, there are some questionable details within this work. The most obvious is the reduction of all immigrants from the continent of Africa to a singular group. This in itself is bad enough as it completely disregards the wide range of ethnicities and cultures across the continent, yet Bourne further offends by using a highly degrading slur in reference to this group. Another clear point of cultural insensitivity is the drawing and note about Native Americans in the bottom left hand corner of the map. Not only does this segment immediately write off the importance and presence of indigenous peoples in America, but the sketch perpetrates the stereotypical image of native americans. These reductions and flat out omissions are quite ironic when we circle back to the intention of this map. While claiming to “counteract the propaganda of racial and religious prejudice which seeks to divide America”, this map continues to enforce the isolation of African and Native Americans from the rest of the American population – an issue that to this day our country still struggles with. However, just as this map had the power to reverse the growing hostilities towards immigrants, contemporary maps hold that same power. Current day cartographers continue to use maps as agents for social change, to challenge outdated beliefs and introduce new and progressive ways of thought.

Works Cited

Battle, George Gordon. “Council Against Intolerance In America.” Received by Governor Herbert H. Lehman, Lincoln Building, 17 June 1941, New York City, New York.

Buehler, Michael. “America–A Nation of One People from Many Countries, by Emma Bourne.” Boston Rare Maps, 5 Jan. 2021,

Library, Cornell University. “America – A Nation of One People from Many Countries – Cornell University Library Digital Collections.” America – A Nation of One People From Many Countries – Cornell University Library Digital Collections: Persuasive Maps: PJ Mode Collection,

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Atlas Of The Week

The atlas I chose for this week’s blog post is This Is Not an Atlas: A Global Collection of Counter-Cartographies by Kollektiv Orangotango. Contrary to the title, this collection features a wide variety of cartographic works that exemplify how maps can serve as a voice and point of advocacy for the powerless, a topic we have discussed at great depth in class. Ranging from sexual harassment incidents in Egypt to the anti-eviction struggle occurring in the San Francisco Bay Area, an issue we’ve discussed in class, this collection highlights the power maps hold in creating social change and questioning those in positions of authority.

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Blog Of The Week

For this week’s featured blog, I decided to use Maps Mania created by Keir Clarke. While the selection of maps on the site vary greatly, they all share one common trait: they’re interactive. Although maps naturally require viewers to develop their own conclusions about the given data, these interactive maps allow readers to go more in depth about the existing relationships within the map and how they change over time

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Map of the Week

“Redlining” has become more and more of a political buzzword lately, never straying too far from news headlines. But what exactly is it? This history takes us back almost a full century. As part of the New Deal, the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation under the Roosevelt administration began to create guidelines for creditworthiness of properties in major American cities. During the mid-1930s, a host of maps were produced by the HOLC showing neighborhoods in the U.S. labeled with an A, B, C, or D rating, complemented with a color code that ranged from green to red. The grading scale relied heavily on racial composition as a key metric. Specifically, only areas with “0% Negros” were able to qualify for a green A rating. The higher percentage of black people there were in a neighborhood, the lower the rating became. Practically, this meant that the presence of African Americans brought down property values significantly; massive white flight to the suburbs resulted partially from this. As white people settled into the rapidly growing suburbs labeled A and B lined in green and blue, black people were left behind in inner cities labeled C and D lined in yellow and red. With these low ratings, black people were unable to secure government-insured mortgages and became trapped in poor neighborhoods lined in red with no way out. And thus the name: redlining. 

As can be seen on the map on the left, there remains a heavy concentration of African Americans in inner-city Chicago today. That part of the city is generally referred to as simply the “South Side.” This is the part of the city where suburban parents warned their children away from, and where gun violence has rocked the nation. This is also the part of the city with a 93% black population, compared with a 29% total black population in Chicago. Almost a century later, Chicago is still a deeply separated city. The real-life effects of this de facto segregation is still playing out today; nothing is a better testament to this than public education funding in the South Side versus the neighborhoods further up north. 

It’s not a coincidence that the South Side has stayed black, nor that it has stayed poor. The map on the right shows the per-student funding of school districts in Chicago as a percentage of the national average. Comparing the two maps, it’s easy to see that the percentage concentration of African Americans has an almost exact indirect correlation with the amount of funding received by school districts in the area. Even though the South Side is on par with the national average in terms of funding, Illinois schools are about $5,000 better funded per-pupil than the national average. Thus, the South Side isn’t quite receiving its due. In fact, schools in the South Side receive an average of $0.73 per-pupil for every $1 that schools in nearby suburbs (with a lot more white students) receive. Illinois has sidelined the South Side because it’s been black and poor, and it’s stayed that way without proper support and investment from the state. Black students from these high-poverty areas with more need from schools are left behind again and again, generation after generation––3 in 4 adults there today live in the same neighborhood they grew up in. As USA Today put it, “racial injustice has been baked into our education system since its genesis.” These two maps laid out side-by-side are a direct confrontation of past wrongs that need to be corrected. 

And therein lies the power of maps. These current housing patterns and school districts exist the way they do because of maps drawn by old white men who have long been six feet underground. And yet, its harmful impacts are still felt vividly today. The Home Owners’ Loan Corporation, the government, and the banks in the 30s all asserted their power over housing in Chicago through maps. They made maps that bordered and ordered the lives of the people in the city, doing the work of the state and the white men in power. These maps have shaped, and continue to shape, the lived experiences of countless Chicagoans of every race. Now, school districts are once again determined by and enforced on maps. A map’s inherent power––especially when backed by the state––in holding unparalleled authority over all things spatial makes it a scarily effective tool of control. The instant a school district map is drawn and published, it begins to feel like an unquestionable authority already set in stone. Recognizing that this power came from maps means that we can repurpose the power. At the very least, we can use the two maps above to point out the injustice of Chicago’s funding of public schools. These maps can become tools of education, and they easily present an argument of necessary change. Taking it a step further, activist groups can take the information from these maps and build new ones that house fairer school districts. This kind of counter-mapping as a form of protest can both promote productive dialogue and present real alternatives to current school district divisions. Creditworthiness maps from the 1930s formed the Chicago we know today; a better, more equitable Chicago can be rebuilt with new maps made by the right hands.

Works Cited

Bruce, Baker D., Danielle Farrie, and David Sciarra, “Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card,” Education Law Center, 7th Edition, February 2018, Accessed 27 September 2021,

Coates, Ta-Nehisi, “The Case for Reparations,” The Atlantic, June 2014,

Conidi, Anna, et al. “The Segregated Urban Landscape of Chicago,” Story Maps, 12 November 2020,

Guastaferro, Lynette, “Why racial inequities in America’s schools are rooted in housing policies of the past,” USA Today, 2 November 2020,

“Race and Hispanic Origin,” United States Census Bureau, 1 July 2019,

Reyes, Cecilia, “Same City, Different Opportunities: Study Maps Life Outcomes for Children from Chicago Neighborhoods,” Chicago Tribune, 16 October 2018,

Turner, Cory, “Why America’s Schools Have a Money Problem,” NPR, 18 April 2016,

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Atlas of the Week

 The Atlas of Redistricting:

Gerrymandering has become a familiar household term, and most Americans would agree that districts are unfairly drawn by both Republicans and Democrats in order to benefit their own parties. In preparation for the 2018 election, this interactive atlas has built several maps at both national and state levels with different purposes, such as drawing lines fairly to encourage competitive elections, drawing to distinctively favor either party, and drawing to benefit minorities. Although the 2018 midterms have passed, the issue of gerrymandering has not; exploring this altas can help with understanding of the complexity of the process and how much political power geography holds. 

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Blog of the Week

This is the Musical Geography Project, where various music histories are visually represented by maps. Featured are all genres of music across the globe, and each map functions a little differently. Some show the relationship between time progression and space for a certain kind of music while others focus on specific musical movements within just one city. Whatever you’re looking for, there are lots of fun musical maps to explore through this project!

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Map of the Week


Have you ever considered how the 7.8 billion people or rather the (7.5 billion when this map was created in 2017) are dispersed throughout the world? This map called “The Earth Divided In 10 Zones of Equal Population” does just that; it visually divides the world into 10 parts each with 10% of the world’s population, displaying the variation in population density. The subtitle “Americans live in the broadest, emptiest slice of the planet” is a comical, yet accurate, interpretation. The green slice–that contains the United States–seemingly depicts an overall more dispersed population as it is a comparatively large section. 

This taps into the Americentrism present–the idea that the United States is superior. Even though the large slice indicates less people, in a way this highlights the American centered view; the slice with the United States takes up a lot of physical space on the map. There are thoughts that it is the best nation, but as the nation is wasting land. As indicated by the subtitle, a lot of land is owned, but not being used. While this may be beneficial for the environment, areas of the country are still extremely polluted. Also, there are developing nations that do not have enough land for all the people, but the United States has many rural areas. These countering ratios of people to land really highlight the differences in power politically and economically. The ability to waste land indicates power. 

Furthermore, cities such as Boston have a much higher population than rural areas in the south. Therefore, in some ways the subtitle is accurate, but it also is an exaggeration highlighting the downfalls of the map itself. It displays a misconception. The possible misinterpretation that the 10% of the population is equally distributed throughout the slice.  

The map relies on viewers’ prior knowledge to understand that within there is population density variability. For example, the narrow reddish-orange and yellow zones get the majority of the population from a singular highly dense area. In the red zone the majority of the population comes from “the most densely settled parts of India, at 1.3 billion the world’s second-most populated country” similarly in the yellow zone it passes through “empty Siberia to empty Western Australia but passes through the most densely populated slice of China” accounting for the very thin slices ( 

The map’s division across east to west is interesting because it is not based on any of the man-made borders of countries, states, etc. It also does not rely on the idea of the number of humans per continent (which is a more natural description of dividing up the world than the former two as it is based upon landmasses). It differs from typical population rendering (a population cartogram) that interprets population density by manipulating the physical space the countries take up based on their percentage of habitants.The slices are man-made, provoking the viewer to question our preconceived notions surrounding land square distance and actual space used by the human population. Furthermore, this map incorporates oceans into the slices. There are small islands that have some human population count, but overall most of this physical space or distance is empty. It portrays a false sense of emptiness due to the ocean to land ratio in each slice. This in turn exaggerates the density differences across. The water is distorting the map.  

As indicated, in some places such as highly populated cities or even countries people are residing everywhere whereas there are other places (that take up the same physical space in the world) that have much less human significance. This has particular importance when compared to development. Comparing overall trends shows that a higher Human Development Index (HDI) is typically proportional to a lower population density. For example, according to in 2021 Norway has an HDI of 0.957 and a population of 5,465,630–this can be compared to Nigeria’s 0.539 HDI and 211,400,708 population. 

This suggests that prosperous nations have fewer people–it displays that governments managing fewer citizens can achieve more. Further, the nations with fewer people and higher HDI are typically democracies and similar government systems that give citizens more rights. This relates to the idea of developing vs first world countries. Developing nations are those with too many individuals and not enough resources or the government is not adequately distributing the resources to aid all. The map visually indicates our bais surrounding third world countries as the thinner slices–indicating more people–are the ones considered developing. Similarly, the wealthier nations are in larger slices suggesting less people.

It is important to consider the current global population increase of 1.05% per year–will this rapidity cause a downfall of the prospering nations? It is also interesting to consider that while the population is growing immensely–faster than some nations can handle–there still is space. As explained above with the yellow slice for example there is a very densely overpopulated China, but empty surrounding countries. China’s population is on the decline due to government initiatives but is still very crowded. This raises questions that even as the population is increasing it continues to grow in overcrowded cities. There is immense empty land that is not as viable for many due to the distance from jobs and the economy. 

Although, as Earth’s human population continues to grow we have ventured into using more of the empty land. This also has negative effects. The growing population is destroying the planet through climate change. This map disregards–or rather does not incorporate–the empty land.When considering the negative impacts of overpopulation on HDI it seems reasonable to consider spreading development into the untouched land. This, however, will continue to impact global warming and other natural processes corrupted due to humans’ footprint. I do not have a solution for what to do about overpopulation or global warming, but it is important to think about the intersection between these complex issues. 


Works Cited

“World Population Review.” Developed Countries List, 

Roser, Max, et al. “World Population Growth.” Our World in Data, 9 May 2013, 

Jacobs, Frank. “Earth Divided in Ten Zones of Equal Population.” Big Think, 30 Sept. 2021, 

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Blog of the Week 

I chose this blog Map Lab on because it contains an interesting combination of many different types of maps. It uses maps as a jumping off point for discussions of present issues and important current events. Through the different types of maps it questions what mapmaking really is which is interesting.

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Atlas of the Week

I chose Strange Maps: An Atlas of Cartographic Curiosities by Frank Jacobs for this week because I think it pairs really well with our class discussions. The Atlas questions the confines of what it means to be a map. Additionally, it pairs political commentary with mapping which is very interesting; this further suggests the connections between perception and political advantage. The manipulation of space in this Atlas to portray the realms of thinkers such as More and Orwell is significant as it suggests the relation between power, conquering land, and the portrayal of this physically on paper.

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Map link: Kirk Goldsberry NBA Shot Maps

These maps are very different than most maps we have talked about in class. Kirk Goldsberry is a cartographer who now maps shots on a basketball court. Kirk Goldsberry has a book, Sprawlball, with hundreds of maps, and this article puts it as, “At its heart, “SprawlBall” is a book of maps. It’s a geography book” (Strauss). This link is just an article with a couple of maps, as I could not find a website that contained a great number of his maps, but if you look up “Kirk Goldsberry Shot Maps” on Google Images, hundreds of unique and interesting maps will show up. I think Kirk Goldsberry’s work is a novel way of using maps.

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