What would the United States look like if you renamed every city after the most popular person who ever lived there? A nightmare in which Los Angeles is renamed Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos takes over Albuquerque.
That’s the premise of the People Map of the U.S., recently launched by The Pudding‘s self-described journalist-engineer Matt Daniels, editor Russell Goldenberg, and writer, reporter, and coder Angela Wang. Inspired in part by the USA Song Map, which replaces place-names with the titles of real songs about each location, this map serves as a glimpse into America’s obsession with celebrities and rich people. (There’s also a U.K. version.)
The dataset came primarily from Wikipedia pages, starting with the thousands of Wiki pages that list people who were born or live in any given city. For example, this one from New York City lists people like Lady Gaga, Heath Ledger, Robert Downey Jr., Rachel Weisz, Tupac Shakur, and President Trump. Based on all of those individual names, The Pudding then analyzed each person’s Wikipedia page, measuring how many visits those pages had using traffic data from Wikipedia from July 2015 to May 2019.
Their methodology selected the top person from each city using the median page views within a minimum of one year of traffic. That way, the person who consistently garnered the most clicks would win the popularity contest—and then have their city renamed after them. They also chose to “include multiple occurrences for a single person because there is both no way to determine which is more accurate and people can be from multiple places.” The size of the green dots on the map, meanwhile, indicates the winning person’s popularity compared to other nearby famous people.
So, what does the United States of celebrities look like? You can start screaming now: New York City has been renamed Donald Trump.