U.S. Mean Center of Population Since 1790

U.S. Census Bureau
U.S. Census Bureau / U.S. Census Bureau

Every 10 years since 1790, the U.S. government has taken a census. Today's map shows the mean center of population in the U.S. over the country's history. Missouri has held the honor of hosting the mean center of population for the past 40 years, with the small village of Plato, MO most recently earning the NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey disc.

The constant shift to the west should come as no surprise. As America expanded westward, the open plains of the west began to look more appealing than the crowded and expensive cities in the east. But what explains the sudden southward shift since the 1960s? Some historians speculate the widespread adoption of air conditioning in the 1950s finally made the Sun Belt summers tolerable, making the south a prime location for World War II veterans to settle and start their families in what came to be known as the Baby Boom.

The Afternoon Map is a semi-regular feature in which we post maps and infographics. In the afternoon. Semi-regularly. Thanks to the U.S. Census Bureau for this one.