For practically its entire history, the Census bureau has calculated the mean center of U.S. population.
This is defined as “the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly” if all U.S. residents weighed the same amount.
And when you plot each decade’s center on a map, you get the story of Americans’ never-ending migration.
In 2010, the mean center was in Texas County, Mo. — 865 miles southwest of the original mean center in Kent County, Md.
“Ever since Chestertown, Md., was determined to be the center of population after the first census was conducted in 1790, the center of population has told the story of America, illustrating how we’ve grown as a nation,” the Census says. “It follows a trail across the country — across Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Missouri — that reflects our history of settling the frontier, waves of immigration and regional migration.
Here’s what the path has looked like:
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