You can see my house from here!

Amanda has an interesting article on cities trying to maintain and attract their educated class—and it includes a nice map of the frequency of college graduates by US counties. I just had to point out that it’s easy to spot Stevens County, where I live—it’s the orange square in a sea of paleness.


It’s too bad the huge counties out west make the western part of the country look misleadingly coarse-grained, but still, you can spot the places that attract the highly educated. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s quite as easy as plopping a university down somewhere to turn it into a magnet for bohemians.


  1. MarkP says

    Has anyone tried to overlay this with the famous election map of red and blue counties? I suspect you would find the same correlation I found when I did it by state and educational background. Shhh, it’s not something the GOP would want spread around.

    Oh, I’m dead center of the red rectangle about 900 miles due south and a tad to the west of you. The buckle of the Bible Belt, yee-haw!

  2. Joe Shelby says

    It’s interseting. You can also recognize the red dot in south-western Virginia, Rich Boucher’s district, that is home of Virginia Tech, Roanoke, and several other VA colleges.

  3. says

    One problem. The article you linked to states that these cities are looking for young educated people, mostly fresh out of college. They’re not nearly as interested in old farts like you and me.

  4. bernarda says

    I think there must be a few Finns in Minnesota. They, as well as others, should like this complaints song by the Helsinki Complaints Choir.

  5. says

    Joe S – I noticed the same thing about the Virginia Tech area of the map. Even as conservative as many of its students are, VT is a liberal oasis compared to the surrounding region. Go Hokies!

  6. Mike says

    The large counties out west also make the Arizona and Colorado look more impressive than they merit. The area from Phoenix north and the one centered on Denver look like they outshine the Bay area and LA areas in California and challenge the entire north-east.

  7. says

    I presume, in the absence of a key of some sort (really, I looked and I can’t find it, so I stopped after I got so frustrated that I was ready to rip my own face off, don’t chide me for being lazy), I presume darker means better. In that case, my home county of Cumberland, Maine is one of the darkest parts on the map. We rule.

  8. Nomen Nescio says

    i’m in that similarly orange spot in the northwest corner of Michigan’s lower peninsula. we don’t have a university here, though; it seems a really good community college might be good enough, if we’re anything to judge by.

  9. Hans says

    Give Denver its due. That blob in Colorado actually seems to stretch from Laramie, Wyoming all the way down to Colorado Springs, and then lurches across the rockies to fill in the Western Slope all the way down to the Durango area.

    That’s not just the big-county-effect. That’s my home state becoming the Center of Cool.

  10. says

    Let’s also not forget that the great Colorado blob includes Boulder, a long-time hippie stronghold.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s quite as easy as plopping a university down somewhere to turn it into a magnet for bohemians.

    Well, if your goal is to show up on this map, then actually it is that easy, if the university is large enough and the surrounding area is sparse enough. (remember, the map is in terms of college graduates per 1000 residents)

    As evidence, I point to that dark brown patch in the middle of Pennsylvania. That’s Centre county, Pennsylvania, with (as of 2000), 122.6 people/square mile. Admittedly, that’s twice as densely populated as Stevens County, MN, but much, much less than a typical suburban county, such as Montgomery County, PA, which has 1,552.6 people per square mile.

    Now, Centre County contains the quaint little town of State College which happens to be home to Penn State.

    So if the U of M were willing to relocate its Minneapolis campus to Morris, it’d turn the surrounding county a dark brown in no time.

  11. Bob O'H says

    I think there must be a few Finns in Minnesota. They, as well as others, should like this complaints song by the Helsinki Complaints Choir.

    To which I can only comment – no niin, tosi hyvä.


  12. says

    Look at that dark patch of Wake, Durham, Orange and Guilford counties in NC! It realy is nice living here.

    While plopping a university in the middle of nowhere is not going to automatically attract creative people to move there (or stay there after the graduation day) – College Station TX anyone? – I still think that University is at a core of a place becoming vibrant, educated, creative and liberal. I cannot see how a place can become so without a good University at its center.

  13. Coragyps says

    interesting – Borden County, Texas, just west of me, is “average.” Of course, only 729 people lived there in 2000: the schoolteacher population alone may push them up that high in the ratings.

    The county went 84% for Bush/Cheney in ’04.

  14. says

    My daughter lives in Chapel Hill but she’ll be leaving next year, taking several degrees with her. I hope it won’t change the map!

    Why are there so many colorless counties in the South?

  15. Sean says

    I enjoyed the map. Data is always a good thing.

    The Pandagon article that accompanied it not so much. How does one equate college graduation with membership in ‘the creative class’?

    I don’t recall becoming extra hip when I got a degree. Did I go to the wrong school? My politics certainly didn’t shift any more the left than they already were either.

    The article also left a certain aftertaste of snobbery. The feeling that citizens of unhip towns are universally, umm, unworthy, judgemental and beneath the hip urban circles of the creative class.

    Ok, must not just be me. I asked my wife to read the Pandagon article. I said nothing, just asked for her impression. I quote, “Beyond the fact that she thinks education makes you hip? What a fucking snob.”

    I love my wife. *grin* She’s not timid.

  16. Glenn says

    That map is from an article that is “available only to Atlantic Monthly subscribers”l. Reproducing it may not be such a great idea. The copy you’re using is clearly scanned in, not taken from an electronic version.

    Pharyngula got it from Pandagon, who got it from Rox Populi, who got if from, who apparently scanned it from a printed copy.

    Atlantic Monthly does make the other summary graphic available on line, just not the maps. The scale, which is shown on the other map but not the one reproduced here and elsewhere along the chain, show difference from national average normalized density of college graduates per 100 population, where light yellow is -20 to -10, yellow is -10 to -8, orange is -8 to 8, light red is +8 to +10, and red is +10 to +39.

  17. sq says

    this is what I learn how to attrack bohemians in a college town.

    1. cheap housing in funky neighborhood. (you know, the type with grafitti VW beatles and toilet seat on top of it.

    2. cheap pizza 24/7. If a town can pass tax free pizza place that provide 24/7 service. It can turn desert into a bohemian paradise.

    3. Good music. Preferably funk. You can’t create bohemian town with country, it needs beat.

    So, allow block party totalling one month each year. Any place will turn into mecca of bohemian drifter.

    Proof: Burning man. (without the pizza. but this experiment is on going, receipt is incomplete.)

  18. says

    Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s quite as easy as plopping a university down somewhere to turn it into a magnet for bohemians.

    It really isn’t. Plopping a university won’t bring the bohemians, unless the university is really good. What brings the bohemians is existing cultural production, and to have that you usually need thriving immigrant neighborhoods. New York’s cultural production began at Five Points rather than at Columbia; Chicago’s began with a fusion of black and white cultures.