Map Break: A Cartogram of Connecticut's Population

A cartogram is a map which does not bother with geography, meaning that actual physical area is not mapped accurately. Strange, but true. Cartograms can allow cartographers to map things like population, which is what I’ve decided to do with Connecticut’s towns.

I assigned a random area to Connecticut, and gave that area the value of Connecticut’s population. I then created squares which had the approximate area of each of Connecticut’s towns, which I figured out using math. It involves percentages and square roots! The upshot is that each town is proportional to all the others in terms of population. I then mapped each town in a very loose geographical arrangement. North and south still work by and large, as do east and west. I did my best to preserve Connecticut’s two main geographical features, the Connecticut Valley and the shoreline. The result is this:

You’ll see an awful lot of distortion here, and the pieces… well, they don’t quite fit. That’s because each town is a perfect square. Area is a lot harder to figure out when the geometric figure isn’t a square, but that means that there are some spaces and gaps. I’ve tried to keep those to a minimum.

There are two features that really jump out, and that’s the absolutely huge concentrations of people on the shore and in the valley. The cartogram really swells in the center, and to the southwest. If you think of the actual geographic areas of those regions, they’re probably about a fourth, maybe less, of the state’s area. Eastern Connecticut, which is all that’s to the east of the river, takes up about a quarter of the eastern side of the map. In reality, that’s half the actual area of the state! Litchfield and Windham counties barely make it on to the map, although Litchfield does have a decided edge. Proximity to New York State seems to be a bonus.

Let me know what you think. I will add political values to these towns at some point, which I think will be very interesting to see.

This map is free for use with proper attribution.


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