Mapping every road in the United States

The United States has a lot of roads and you can see them all on these state and national maps:

Roads, it turns out, are fantastic indicators of geographies, as evidenced by Fathom’s All Streets series of posters. A few years ago the Boston design studio released All Streets, a detailed look at all the streets in the United States. The team has since produced a set of All Streets for individual states and countries.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s TIGER/Line data files (Open Maps for other countries), the designers are able to paint a clear picture of where our infrastructure bumps into nature-made dead ends. In states like North Dakota and Iowa you see flat expanses of grids. Nebraska has a dense set of roads in the east near its more populated cities that dissipates as you head west towards the rural Sandhills prairie. A dark spot near the southern tip of Nevada punctuates the otherwise desert-heavy state, conversely, the Adirondack mountain range provides an expanse of white in a dark stretch of New York roads.

I do find the smaller maps or smaller scale views more interesting because they do show some differences. Looking at the national level doesn’t reveal all that much because we are now used to such images based on infrastructure and big data, whether based on cell phone coverage or interstates or lights seen from space or population distributions.

I could see hanging one of these – perhaps the Illinois version?

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