“The United States Redrawn as Fifty States with Equal Populations” leads to interesting names in the Chicago area

Here is a fun map/solution/art project regarding reforming the American electoral college: have all the states have equal populations.

electorally reformed US map

Here is the methodology for the map:

The map began with an algorithm that grouped counties based on proximity, urban area, and commuting patterns. The algorithm was seeded with the fifty largest cities. After that, manual changes took into account compact shapes, equal populations, metro areas divided by state lines, and drainage basins. In certain areas, divisions are based on census tract lines.

The District of Columbia is included into the state of Washington, with the Mall, major monuments and Federal buildings set off as the seat of the federal government.

The capitals of the states are existing states capitals where possible, otherwise large or central cities have been chosen. The suggested names of the new states are taken mainly from geographical features:

  • mountain ranges or peaks, or caves – Adirondack, Allegheny, Blue Ridge, Chinati, Mammoth, Mesabi, Ozark, Pocono, Rainier, Shasta, Shenandoah and Shiprock
  • rivers – Atchafalaya, Menominee, Maumee, Nodaway, Sangamon, Scioto, Susquehanna, Trinity and Willimantic
  • historical or ecological regions – Big Thicket, Firelands and Tidewater
  • bays, capes, lakes and aquifers – Casco, Tampa Bay, Canaveral, Mendocino, Ogallala, Salt Lake and Throgs Neck
  • songs – Gary, Muskogee and Temecula
  • cities – Atlanta, Chicago, Columbia, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Washington
  • plants – Tule and Yerba Buena
  • people – King and Orange

The words used for names for the name are drawn from many languages, including many American Indian languages.

Interesting naming conventions. However, I don’t understand what is going on in the Chicago area. While it makes sense to name Chicago and some of the nearby suburbs “Chicago” (though I’m guessing a number of these suburbs would not want to be lumped in with Chicago), why in the world would the new state made up of the outer regions of the current Chicago area be called Gary? I’m sure people would ask why an industrial boomtown now ghost town (it isn’t quite this bad yet this is the sort of reputation Gary has), an exemplar par excellence of the Rust Belt, would lend its name to a full state. Gary has a bad reputation (which other suburbs, particularly the wealthier ones, would not want to be associated with), it is not the largest city in the area (Milwaukee, Rockford, Joliet are larger), it is located on the eastern side of the new state so isn’t exactly central, and Joliet is the named capital.

It is also interesting to see the New York and Los Angeles metropolitan regions are also split up. However, they don’t appear to be quite split on the lines of concentric rings like the Chicago area.

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