The Horsepower Map of the United States

Basically, the Rust Belt before it rusted.

Remember the days when progress was measured not in bandwidth, but in horsepower? Of course not; you're not 100 years old. And so you never pored over this map as an impressionable teenager. 


This Horsepower Map of the United States distorts the area of each state to reflect the amount of horsepower installed. Not actual horses, mind you — the year is 1933, not 1833 — but horsepower as a unit of measure for mechanical power (i.e., 1 hp = 746 watt) and ultimately industrial output.

What this cartogram shows, therefore, is where the industrial muscle of the U.S. was located back in the early 1930s. Basically, the Rust Belt before it rusted.

The attention is immediately drawn to Pennsylvania, so big and square that it looks like the very cornerstone of America's industrial might. Ohio and New York are the two other main powerhouses; and to a lesser extent Massachusetts (and the rest of the New England states) and Illinois (plus other states in the Midwest). 

The South and West are remarkably insignificant: Florida seems about the size of Vermont and Kentucky fits in Rhode Island twice; while California is smaller than New Jersey and Texas is outsized by Connecticut.

Some states are so tiny, horsepower-wise, that they're barely visible on the map. The combined industrial wattage of Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and North and South Dakota is still smaller than that of Maine.

As they say: The past is a different country. But so is the future. How will tomorrow's economic performance be measured? And where will America's muscles bulge?

Map found here on the excellent Making Maps blog.

Strange Maps #743

Got a strange map? Let me know at strangemaps@gmail.com

Why a federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
  • The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
  • The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Water may be an inevitable result of the process that forms rocky planets

New research identifies an unexpected source for some of earth's water.

Surprising Science
  • A lot of Earth's water is asteroidal in origin, but some of it may come from dissolved solar nebula gas.
  • Our planet hides majority of its water inside: two oceans in the mantle and 4–5 in the core.
  • New reason to suspect that water is abundant throughout the universe.
Keep reading Show less