Maps

The United States of Craigslist

What if we drew our regions based on Craigslist's influence?

There are many different ways to define geographic regions: some political and cultural, others purely economic. And of course, there are many different geographic scales - from municipalities and independent cities and counties to metropolitan areas, even mega-regions. The best indicators take us beyond political boundaries and to enable us see locations as more natural economic units. 

What if we looked to Craigslist to draw our regional boundaries? Here's how it would look, courtesy of IDV User Experience.


Think of this as a map that shows how consumers define what is and isn't local. People on the East Coast appear to not to need to travel a long distance for a good deal, while populations that are less dense have a larger local geography. As my MPI colleague Kevin Stolarick puts it:

Currently, regions are defined mostly by commuting patterns – they use labor markets to determine “economic areas.” Given the changing nature of work and the workforce – does labor market still make sense? What exactly should be the definition of a metropolitan or other region? What do they mean? How do they work? The Craigslist map is great since it shows how far people are willing to travel for used toasters (or sex).

On Craigslist, geographical boundaries created long ago are irrelevant. What matters is the amount of influence that a region has on potential buyers. 

About the Author

  • Richard Florida is Co-founder and Editor at Large of CityLab.com and Senior Editor at The Atlantic. He is director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto and Global Research Professor at NYU. More
    Florida is author of The Rise of the Creative ClassWho's Your City?, and The Great Reset. He's also the founder of the Creative Class Group, and a list of his current clients can be found here