Center of Population
Profile America — Wednesday, May 18th. One of the more famous bits of advice given in American history was “go west, young man.” One of the ways the census tracks the continued westward movement of the population is by computing what’s known as the center of population after each 10 year census. To understand this concept, imagine a flat, rigid, and weightless map. Then put a uniform grain of sand on the map for every person counted in the census. The point at which this map would evenly balance is the center of population. After the first census in 1790, this point was in Chestertown, Maryland. Now, after the 23rd count, the center of population has been computed to be near the small town of Plato, Missouri — a movement of 873 miles. Profile America is beginning its 15th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Facts for Features, CB11-FF.10