Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Rise and Fall of American Cities

Population change from 1990-2010: (green = rising population, purple = falling population)

The Alperin-Sheriff/Wikipedia Population Dataset is an introduction to a comprehensive database of American city and town populations over time. This introduction, in the form of a story map, provides a great introduction to the data, what it can be used for and some of the caveats you should be aware of when viewing or using the data.

As you scroll through the story map you can see how the historical population data can be used in many different ways. For example, to map the rise and fall of populations in American cities over time. As you progress the story map provides various mapped views of when different towns and cities have seen growth and decline.

Towards the end of the visualization the cities and towns are reorganized to show cities which share  similar population curves over time. Instead of being shown geographically on a map the cities are reorganized by their similarities in population growth and decline. For example St. Louis, Scranton and Bridgeport, Ohio are placed near each other because they have all experienced similar shaped population declines over a number of decades.

The Alperin-Sheriff/Wikipedia Population Dataset can be downloaded from GitHub. The data is being compiled as part of the on-going Creating Data project (Schmidt, Benjamin. Creating Data: The Invention of Information in the nineteenth century American State. Creating Data).

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