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-illustration of several big-box retail stores.
    Equity

    After the Retail Apocalypse, Prepare for the Property Tax Meltdown

    Big-box retailers nationwide are slashing their property taxes through a legal loophole known as "dark store theory." For the towns that rely on that revenue, this could be a disaster.

  2. A photo of British Prime Minister Theresa May announcing her government's Brexit deal outside No. 10 Downing Street
    Equity

    Britain Finally Has a Brexit Deal. Everyone Hates It.

    Amid resignations, it's clear the U.K. government massively misjudged how leaving the European Union would play out.

  3. Life

    Inside the Movement to Derail Amazon HQ2 Incentives

    New York and Virginia politicians and activists could still make changes to Amazon HQ2 packages—or at least stop the next bidding war from mirroring this one.

  4. A photo of a small small house in San Francisco's Noe Valley that sold for $1.8 million in 2014.
    Equity

    Why Cities Must Tackle Single-Family Zoning

    As cities wake up to their housing crises, the problems with single-family-home residential zoning will become too egregious to ignore.

  5. A man holding a toddler walks past open-house signs in front of condominiums for sale.
    Life

    Millennials Are More Likely to Buy Their First Homes in Cities

    New research finds that Millennials are 21 percent more likely to buy their first homes near city centers than Generation X.