We had a lot of fun and some great comments during the discussion of state capitals most inconvenient to the residents of the states’ largest cities. I’d mentioned that I’d found the U.S. Census Bureau’s list of Population Centers by State from the year 2000 census. Naturally I took the last two questions from the previous exercise and modified them to compare the state capitals with the state centers of population.
Dropping the latitude / longitude coordinates into Google Maps almost always produced a street address. From there it was easy to generate directions and mileage to the respective state capitals. Here’s an example for Ohio.
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I probably could have could have produced even more accurate results. I received a number of fascinating suggestions. However I had to go with what was both easily available and conveniently calculated.
The results were… boringly similar. Juneau is still incredibly distant from the center of population in Alaska (which barely nudges away from Anchorage by the way). Sacramento is still incredibly inconvenient for tens of millions of California residents, and is by far the worst location for a state capital from an overall societal perspective.
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There was only one major difference: Florida. This was noted in a comment by reader "Matt" about ten minutes after I’d dropped the lat/long in Google maps and noticed the same thing. Matt gets the gold star for amazing coincidences. He should go play the lotto this evening.
Jacksonville, on Florida’s northeast corner is the state’s largest city. However, think of all the major cities further south: Tampa; St. Petersburg; Orlando; Ft. Lauderdale; Miami; and dozens of smaller yet still significant communities that line the coasts. Jacksonville may be the largest city but the center of population falls much further south, even south of Orlando, and that’s quite distant from the capital at Tallahassee. This pushes Florida into the number 2 position for overall state capital inconvenience.
Better state capital choices for the five most inconveniently misaligned locations would be:
- Bakersfield, California
- Winter Haven, Florida
- Middletown, New York
- Joliet, Illinois
- Killeen, Texas
Oh, and Juneau, Alaska is still an outrageously inconvenient place although it doesn’t impact nearly as many people as the others. I’m not knocking Juneau as a town. I’ve been there a couple of times and I think it’s a nice place. It’s still a really poor choice for a capital city.
Are there any bets on the most conveniently-located state capital with respect to the center of population? I was thinking it would probably be one of the really small states or one of those that seem to sit at dead center. The "best" one is neither.
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Maine’s center of population is only three miles away from its capital city of Augusta.
A bit late (I kept forgetting to post it), but you should absolutely read A Visit To The McFarthest Spot on Data Pointed if you haven’t seen it yet. A personal visit to a noteworthy geo-oddity gains top marks in my estimation. I would have loved to have accomplished something of the magnitude described in that post. Kudos to Data Pointed!