maps

How the west was really won: by manipulative data vizualization.

One of most well-known historical theories about America is the “frontier thesis,” advanced by Frederick Jackson Turner in 1893. It states that the long existence of a “frontier,” a zone between the settled and unsettled regions of the United States, is responsible for distinctive aspects of the American character: independence, self-reliance, egalitarianism, a certain disdain for high culture and learning, etc. The United States was, at independence, a fairly narrow strip of land east of the Mississippi, but the frontier was pushed continually west until eventually it reached the Pacific and vanished altogether.

You can see this movement on a sequence of population density maps, based on decennial census results, published in the 1898 Statistical atlas of the United States. Here’s the 1790 to 1860, when they didn’t even both showing the west:

1790-1860.jpg

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Roll-your-own geocoding with OpenStreetMap Nominatim on Amazon EC2

Sometimes you need to geocode a few addresses, and while Google is obviously the gold standard, the Google Maps API conditions are quite strict – you are supposed only to geocode addresses you will be displaying in conjunction with a Google map. That’s no use for bulk / backend geocoding, the kind you might do for analysis purposes.

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