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1 -- This 2010 U.S. Census map, from a report about population change, shows population-weighted density by metropolitan statistical area. That's a complicated way of essentially saying the map shows how tightly packed people are on average in metropolitan areas, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. The map shows how people generally are more condensed in metropolitan areas along the East and West coasts than they are in metropolitan areas in the middle of the country.
2 -- Population can also be visualized by how it is changing. Where are people moving to and from? Looking at U.S. population growth rings in this map from Data Pointed reveals a few trends: the rise of the suburbs contrasted with the repopulation of some urban centers. Taking a closer look at some of the urban areas reveals that while many people are moving out of cities in favor of the suburban life, some people are also choosing to move into the heart of cities.
3 -- This Census Dotmap by Brandon Martin-Anderson represents each person counted in the 2010 U.S. Census and the 2011 Canadian Census with one dot. That's 341,817,095 dots. (The U.S. population in 2010, according to the Census, was more than 308 million.) The Dotmap is an interesting way of visualizing where people live -- and where they don't. The map shows some of the major urban centers of the country, and the lack of people in other areas highlights the boundaries of natural features like deserts, lakes, and mountains.
Forbes: Interactive Migration Map
4 -- We can also understand places by tracking how people move between them. Forbes created an interactive visualization that tracks inbound and outbound migration by county and year using IRS tax stats. It gives some clues about what areas of the country are becoming more (or less) popular destinations for living.
Link to Interactive Map Showing Income Desparity
5 -- There are lots of socioeconomic factors we can use to help understand the complexity and diversity of places. Pew Social Trends created an interactive map showing income disparity in the top 10 most populated metro areas. The Pew Research Center found an increasing number of metropolitan areas are segregated by income. The District of Columbia and the surrounding states provide one stark example. The blue shows upper income, tan shows middle or mixed income, and red shows lower income.
Flicker: Race and Ethnicity by City
6 -- Segregation isn't limited to factors like income. Eric Fischer used data from the 2000 Census to create a series of maps showing the racial makeup of various cities. The city of Detroit and its suburbs have clear lines of segregation when we look at them with the overlay of race.