Michael Pecirno

Most maps of the U.S. prioritize metropolitan areas. But "Minimal Maps" single out the nation's forests, crops, and waterbodies.

Eighty percent of the U.S. population lives in "urban" areas, a staggering 249,253,271 souls. Yet these folks live in just 3 percent of the country's 2.3 billion acres of land. Most of America's 50 states are forestland (30 percent), pasture and ranges (27 percent), and crops (18 percent), with parks, tundra, and swamps making up the rest.

These are statistics that never fail to blow my provincially urban mind—in part, perhaps, because most maps of the country visually prioritize metropolitan areas.

But London-based designer Michael Pecirno produces images of America that illuminate all land use patterns, type by type. "Minimal Maps" uses 2014 USDA data to explore in rich detail how forests, grasslands, crops, and water spread across the contiguous states—each with its own map.

"[C]orn fields take up 91 million acres of the American landscape," writes Pecirno in an email. "This is a staggering 4.83 percent of the continuous United States. While hearing that value is quite astounding, there is little way right now for us to visualise what 4.83 percent of the American landscape looks like, or furthermore, where this land is. By focussing each map on a single subject, we are able to better visualise and understand our landscape."

All images courtesy of Michael Pecirno.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  2. Equity

    What Happened to Crime in Camden?

    Often ranked as one of the deadliest cities in America, Camden, New Jersey, ended 2017 with its lowest homicide rate since the 1980s.

  3. photo: Police line up outside the White House in Washington, D.C. as protests against the killing of George Floyd continue.
    Perspective

    America’s Cities Were Designed to Oppress

    Architects and planners have an obligation to protect health, safety and welfare through the spaces we design. As the George Floyd protests reveal, we’ve failed.

  4. photo: Police in riot gear march down Plymouth Avenue during riots in North Minneapolis on July 21, 1967.
    Equity

    Why This Started in Minneapolis

    Conditions that led to George Floyd’s death are not unique to Minneapolis and St. Paul. But there’s a reason why the Twin Cities triggered a national uprising.

  5. A participant holding a Defund Police sign at the protest in Brooklyn.
    Equity

    The Movement Behind LA's Decision to Cut Its Police Budget

    As national protesters call for defunding police, a movement for anti-racist “people’s budgets” is spreading from LA to Nashville to Grand Rapids.

×