A map is like a blank canvas, onto which you can imprint almost any information you’d like. 2013 was a big year for redrawing the map of the U.S. or for layering new information on it so that we could better see how our geography and lives intertwine, for better or worse.
Here are some of our favorite new ways of drawing our world. Nearly all of them are based on the U.S. map, showing how the way our money moves defines us more than our political borders, or that where we live and how we think may be one and the same.
Click around. You may never look at the country the same way again:
Using a site that tracks dollar bills, a theoretical physicist noticed that our state boundaries are rather arbitrary, but that money tends to stay within new, more realistic boundaries.
Imagine if the entire country was linked by 220-mile-per-hour trains. That’s what this map does.
America is divided by politics, economics, and geography. But it turns out that we also tend to cluster around people who act the same as us.
Instead of fighting over water, what if each state’s boundaries let it get water from one source? Check out the Watershed States of America.
This interactive graphic, which lets you see the economic stats for every ZIP code in the country, shows the emergence of “Super ZIPs”–communities where nearly everyone is wealthy.
Bike sharing is just starting to really catch on in the U.S., but it’s huge all over the world. These maps show the systems in cities from Moscow to Rio.
These maps of how fast the buses drive through Boston offer a beautiful look at the city’s transit system.
These heat maps of the U.S. break down how people use language and pronounce words differently in different parts of the country: Soda vs. pop, sub vs. hero, water fountain vs. … bubbler?
The maps from Geography of Hate look at where across the country people are most likely to be tweeting something deeply hateful.
Read more of our best stories of the year in these categories: Top stories, infographics, photography, maps, buildings, design, cities, food, transportation, innovative workplaces, bikes, collaborative consumption, energy, crowdfunding, robots, environment, health, education