This Week Across America

This week I came across a larger-than-normal set of interesting maps and articles that I never got around to having more complete thoughts. So I thought I’d share them now, in case you’re need of some interesting place-based material to peruse this weekend.

  • The Economic Research Service of the Department of Agriculture has released maps of the places in America that are “Frontier and Remote” (or FAR–you’ve got to love a well-done acronym). I’m always interested to see how people quantify concepts that seem intuitive to us; they do it here by measuring how far it takes you to drive to communities of various sizes. For the record, I live in a “Level 1 FAR” zip code, though if they measured this by street address instead of zip code, I’d be right on the edge of the (highest) “Level 4.”
  • Over the Atlantic Cities blog, meanwhile, there’s a map that on rough glance looks like those maps’ inverse: the new geography of the working class.
  • This next map you can buy in poster form: a hand-lettered map of literary America (for our readers who have gone limey, you can also get a map of the U.K.). I think this is mostly fun for seeing what is left out or done wrong. Example: Mark Twain clearly belongs to Connecticut.
  • Forget the Great American Novel. First we have to figure out who wrote the Great New Jersey Novel.
  • Finally, and most weightily, in this week’s New York Times Magazine, Maggie Jones explores how an immigration raid at a meatpacking plant brought more diversity–and more big-city problems–to a tiny Iowa town.