People Outside the Midwest Think the Midwest Takes Up the Entire Country

What’s the Midwest? For Midwesterners, it’s the Census Bureau definition (plus Oklahoma). And if you don’t live here, the region stretches all the way to Idaho.

Via Jenny Xie at The Atlantic Cities, the design and planning firm Sasaki Associates has an interactive exhibit that allows people to draw what they think the Midwest is.

Pretty much anything that combines mapping, cultural perception, and geography is catnip to me, so I had to check out the results.

Just for kicks, let’s start with the actual Census Bureau definition of the Midwest.

The official map of the Midwest.

Seems reasonable enough. You could throw in Oklahoma, or debate whether the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas are the Plains states and thus specifically not the Midwest. But seems about right.

People who indicate that they’ve spent “all” of their lives in the Midwest (374 responses) give a similar response, which includes Oklahoma, and a bit of Arkansas and Kentucky. 

The Midwest, according to Midwesterners.

A lot of people consider Oklahoma Midwestern, as well non-Appalachian Kentucky. The Appalachians, the Rockies, the Confederacy, and Texas pretty much mark the boundaries. Among Midwesterners, there’s common agreement on the Census definition.

Now, the definition of the Midwest gets much more expansive among the 723 people who have never lived in the so-called Midwest. For them, this region includes anything that’s not desert, mountains, a coastal state, or the Deep South.

What the Midwest looks like if you don’t live in the Midwest.

Idaho? No. Memphis? I wish.

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