The Washington Post’s Wonkblog published a post Wednesday afternoon about a redrawn U.S. map by urban planner Neil Freeman that gives each (new) state equal population. In this case, the main point of this redrawing is to allow for equal representation in Congress in terms of population.
Maps like this surface every so often, and while they’re just for fun (especially for cartophiles like me), it does raise some interesting questions…like the rationale behind splitting West Virginia into four states.
The Mountain State no longer exists in this map. Instead, almost the entire northern half of the state, plus a sliver that includes Cabell County, is part of the state of Allegheny, centered around Pittsburgh. That state also includes Western Pennsylvania, Western Maryland and Southeast Ohio.
Southern West Virginia is split between the states of Blue Ridge and Shenandoah, both of which have capitals in North Carolina (Kanawha and Putnam counties are part of Shenandoah). Finally, Hampshire, Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson counties are lumped into a state that includes the Washington, D.C., metro area.
Here’s the map:
And here’s a (slightly blurry) close-up:
This map also seems to group communities of interest together, for the most part. Allegheny seems to be the best example of this concept in our region, since Pittsburgh has deep historic and cultural ties with much of northern West Virginia, Western Maryland and Southeast Ohio.
But I really doubt West Virginians split between Shenandoah and Blue Ridge would want their new state government to be headquartered in North Carolina – it’s too far geographically and culturally (plus, we already split from a state farther east once).
As a side note, in recent years there have been proposals – some more serious than others – for a section of a state to split from its current state. “Superior,” which would be the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, comes to mind, as does a 2011 proposal for much of Southern California to split from that state. Wikipedia even has a large list of state secession proposals.
Often, such proposals are in response to a region of a state that has developed differently from the rest of the state, for better or worse. This was the case in 2011 when Del. Larry Kump (R-Berkeley) proposed a vote by Eastern Panhandle residents to see if those residents wanted to leave the state (though Kump admitted it was more to get people talking than anything else).
Freeman’s map – intentionally or not – seems to reflect how West Virginia has and is developing and how worldviews can vary greatly around the state, whether you live in Brooke, Berkeley or Boone county.
Yet, in my experience, West Virginians consider themselves full West Virginians, regardless of whether they live in the panhandles or the coalfields. And that’s unique.
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See Freeman’s original post at his website. And while you’re at it, check out some of his other content!