RARELY-ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT ADMINISTRATIVE BOUNDARIES

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From Daniel MacGregor
1997
Editor's response
I have seen your website, and I would like more detailed information on these proposed administrative boundaries for North America. By the way, if you've also got them for Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, and "Australasia" (as it used to be called), I'd be interested in knowing about them, too. In the temperate zone of North America, most of the countries and regions have been roughed out to below the level of existing counties. Some statistical work has been done, such as estimating populations. Figures may be posted soon.

At present, we have insufficient demographic data to go beyond that area.

With its long history of city-states, Europe is already evolving in this direction. Countries like Italy and Switzerland have a hierarchical structure recognizing the importance of regions and provinces.

In some parts of the world, there are problems providing for severe ethnic conflict, nomadic populations, and poor transportation. The spatial model applied to North America may have to be expanded to recognize such factors.

From Daniel MacGregor
August 2001
Editor's response
One criticism I would offer in your improvement of Pearcy's plan is your disposition of his proposed state of Prairie (Iowa). If I recall Pearcy's text correctly, he offered an alternative, that Prairie be partitioned between the states of Superior, Osage, and Dearborn. The maps in Bogue and Beale's "Economic Areas of the United States" (1961) offer clues as to how that might be accomplished. Although Pearcy offered the alternative of splitting the state of Prairie, it is not clear what he meant. If Des Moines is split off from Waterloo and Cedar Rapids, it is next most proximate to Omaha to the west in Platte, which is not the direction Pearcy intended it to go. It is difficult to imagine joining Des Moines to any other neighbor without bringing most population centers with it, a lopsided transfer that we would not call a partition.
My suggestion would be to combine Prairie with Dearborn rather than Osage. Iowa forms that part of the Federal Reserve District that is under the direct control of Chicago. Although there is ambiguity in the countryside around Chicagoland, the population of its region was minimized to the extent reasonable to provide some balance with its neighbors.
The Federal Reserve districts, together with those of their branch banks, would form almost as many theoretical "states" as Pearcy did. And they do reflect economic realities. For example, the state of Wyoming, now included in the Denver branch, was once part of Omaha's. Cheyenne is only 100 miles from Denver (only slightly more than the distance between New York and Philadelphia). How long ago was it more proximate to Omaha?
Again, the area under the direct control of Chicago also once included western and central Michigan, now part of the Detroit branch.
I can attest to the fact that on my last visits to Cedar Rapids, Iowa (mid 1990s), the newspaper to the outside world (as it still is in Madison, Wisconsin, for example) was the Chicago Tribune and not the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It would be interesting to see something more up-to-date in "newspaper influence" maps than those of sixty or seventy years ago, where Chicago newspapers were read throughout much of Iowa. How far do you want to carry that logic? If the figures for Wilmington, Del. indicate that the New York Times outsells the Philadelphia Inquirer, should Wilmington be joined to New York rather than Philadelphia?
Looking at the FCC's larger regional groupings (Regional Economic Areas and Economic Areas Groupings), the areas included in Prairie always seems to be grouped in regions including Chicago rather than St. Louis. The hierarchical status of St. Louis was only one factor considered. A population trough near the Vermilion River facilitates the break from Chicago. It seemed important to group Peoria with its neighbors within 100 miles, including Moline, Springfield, and Decatur. Can St. Louis or Cedar Rapids be separated from such a cluster?
My proposed combination would also follow Pearcy's symmetry to the north and south, where Superior and Osage both cross the Mississippi. Lastly, culturally, Prairie/Iowa is part of the upper Midwest, where the "old" settlers tended to come from New England, while Osage, comprised of eastern and central Missouri and southern Illinois, is lower Midwest, where the "old" settlers tended to be from Virginia and Kentucky. On a smaller scale, the typical Southern town can be divided according to continent of origin by a line along the railroad tracks. In densely-populated St. Louis, the north side is mostly African in origin, the south side mostly European. Should they be divided? Most American cities show great diversity in ethnicity and migration. How they function now seems more important than where the people came from.

By their nature, port cities and border towns have developed to negotiate boundaries of one sort or another. Mill towns along the Fall Line (Augusta, Raleigh, etc.) join hill culture with the old plantations on the coastal plain. Likewise, cities along the Balcones Escarpment (San Antonio, Austin, Waco, Fort Worth) join high pasture with lower agricultural land.

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