67 - Where Delaware Met Pennsylvania (1): the Twelve Mile Circle

twelve-mile-circle.gif

\n

Your typical American border is the straight line, as demonstrated by the US-Canadian border that follows the 49th parallel for approximately 1.245 miles (2.000 km), longer than any other linear boundary; and by Utah Phillips’ observation that "out west the states are square".


\n

A delightful exception to the straight border is the circular demarcation between Pennsylvania and Delaware, dubbed the Twelve Mile Circle. This is the only US boundary that’s a true arc… Unless you consider the 49th parallel border and all the other boundaries based on latitude (which are therefore centred around the North Pole) as arcs too.

\n

As the name implies, the circle has a radius of exactly 12 miles, centred on the cupola of the New Castle courthouse. The centre of the circle has been fixed on that cupola since 1750, but the Twelve Mile Circle is older than that, dating back to the original deed of Delaware by the Duke of York to William Penn, on August 24th of 1682:

\n

"All that the Towne of Newcastle otherwise called Delaware and All that Tract of Land lying within the Compass or Circle of Twelve Miles about the same scituate lying and being upon the River Delaware in America And all Islands in the same River Delaware and the said River and Soyle thereof lying North of the Southermost part of the said Circle of Twelve Miles about the said Towne."

\n

This paragraph has caused another demarcatory anomaly in the Delaware River, the border between Delaware and New Jersey. In most rivers that divide two political entities, the boundary is drawn right down the middle of the stream. Yet in this river, the Twelve Mile Circle continues into the river up unto the New Jersey shoreline. And only there does the state of Delaware stop, claiming the entire river and hemming in New Jersey.

\n

New Jersey has challenged this demarcation up to the Supreme Court (in 1934 and 1935), which refused to rule and instead reprimanded the states for even fighting about this. And yet, as recently as 2006, a study was commissioned on the border dispute. Legislators of both states have made aggressive noises about each others’ claims, Delaware symbolically calling upon the National Guard to defend state shores and New Jerseyites obliquely mentioning the battleship named after their state, moored just upriver…

\n

This image taken from Wikipedia, here.

\n

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less

The world's watersheds, mapped in gorgeous detail

Hungarian cartographer travels the world while mapping its treasures.

Strange Maps
  • Simple idea, stunning result: the world's watersheds in glorious colors.
  • The maps are the work of Hungarian cartographer Robert Szucs.
  • His job: to travel and map the world, one good cause at a time.
Keep reading Show less
Image source: Topical Press Agency / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Though we know today that his policies eventually ended the Great Depression, FDR's election was seen as disastrous by some.
  • A group of wealthy bankers decided to take things into their own hands; they plotted a coup against FDR, hoping to install a fascist dictator in its stead.
  • Ultimately, the coup was brought to light by General Smedley Butler and squashed before it could get off the ground.
Keep reading Show less