Pointillist Mapping

Borrowing from the style of pointillist artists like Georges Seurat and Vincent Van Gogh, the following three maps show data overlaid on maps using a tiny dot for each data point. While it is difficult to extract quantifiable data from this type of display, it is useful as a big picture overview. Here are three pointillist maps I’ve recently come across:

Where Are the Jobs?

Creator: Robert Manduca
Source: 2010 LEHD Census
Method: Leaflet

This map shows (just about) every job in America (it concedes that there are probably about 96% of all jobs on this map). Each job is denoted by a dot on the map. Jobs are colour coded: Manufacturing and Trade (Red), Professional Services (Blue) Healthcare, Education, and Government (Green),  Retail, Hospitality, and Other Services (Yellow). Notice the stark contrast between the eastern half of the country as compared to the west, likely due to population distribution, though there is a concentration of people, and, therefore, jobs, in California, Oregon and Washington. It is interesting, too, to zoom in on cities to see what the distribution of industry is. For example, there are a great many Manufacturing and Trade (likely oil-related) jobs in Houston, Texas, while Washington D.C is, naturally, a sea of green (Healthcare, Education and, most likely in this case, Government). Major cities, such as New York, are interesting, too. Manhattan island shows predominently Healthcare, Education, and Government jobs, while, across the East River in Brooklyn and Queens, Manufacturing and Trade dominate.

The Racial Dot Map


Creator: Dustin Cable, University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service
Source: U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 Summary File 1
Method: Unknown

This map, in contrast, uses a similar technique to show the distribution of race across the country. Here, we can see that Hispanic people live predominantly across the southwestern United States. The proximity to the Mexican border suggests that people emigrating from Mexico and Central America likely arrived first in these areas and remained in the region. There is also a concentration of Hispanic people on the southern tip of Florida, which is likely due, in part, to its close proximity to Cuba. Conversely, we can also see a concentration of Black people in the southern United States, continuing up along the Eastern Seaboard.

While much of the information contained in these maps could generally be assumed with some indication of American history, it is interesting to see it broken down into the finest points like this.

Every Person in Scotland


Creator: GISForThought
Source: NRS and Ordnance Survey data
Method: Mapbox/Leaflet

This map use pointillist display to show the population distribution in Scotland.

Educators, how are you working with social science data in the classroom? Would you use maps like these to explore economic factors and racial distribution with your students? Would similar maps focusing on other countries be helpful for you?

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