A former coworker named Tessie reached out to me recently with a couple of ideas to feature on Fun with Maps. They require some background research but here is the first of those awesome suggestions realized. Map 101 concerns walls. I have drawn colorful lines for seven of the world’s most famous walls (and wall-like areas). It was difficult to fit these walls on one map so it’s in three parts below.
The most famous wall in the world is the Great Wall of China. There’s no possible argument there, it’s a fact. The wall is “made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials”. It sits along “the historical Northern borders of China” and was built “to protect… against raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe”. The “majority of the existing wall is from the Ming Dynasty” but parts of it date back to the 7th century B.C. “The Great Wall stretches from Dandong in the East to Lop Lake in the West along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia”. One “archaeological survey found that the entire wall with all of its branches measure out to be 13,171 miles” [Wikipedia].
Nearby, between North and South Korea, sits another famous wall/border. The Korean DMZ, a De-Militarized Zone, is 160 miles long and 2.5 miles wide. This large area was cleared of vegetation and fences/walls were built as part of an “agreement between North Korea, China, and the United Nations”. Within the DMZ is a meeting-point between the two cold-warring nations in the small Joint Security Area. There, near the western end of the zone, “is where negotiations can take place. There have been various incidents in and around the DMZ, with military and civilian casualties on both sides. Several tunnels are claimed to have been built as an invasion route for the North Koreans.” The most recent headlines regarding this border involve South Korea blasting ‘K-Pop’ music over the border at top volume to mess with their enemies to the North [Wikipedia].
The Berlin Wall is probably the second most famous wall in the world. “The Wall completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and East Berlin” between 1961 and 1989. “The barrier included guard towers placed along large concrete walls, which circumscribed a wide area (later known as the “death strip”) that contained anti-vehicle trenches… and other defenses. The Eastern Bloc claimed that the Wall was erected to protect its population from fascist elements conspiring to prevent the ‘will of the people’ in building a socialist state in East Germany. In practice, the Wall served to prevent the massive emigration and defection that had marked East Germany and the communist Eastern Bloc during the post-World War II period. Along with the separate and much longer Inner German Border (IGB), which marked the border between East and West Germany, The Berlin Wall came to symbolize the Iron Curtain during the Cold War” [Wikipedia]. It’s in many smaller pieces now but it’s still an important symbol of the Cold War and a major historical tourist attraction.
The Berlin Wall was a long term effect of World War II but the war itself had it’s own famous wall. The Atlantic “Wall” was a series of coastal defensive embattlements put in place along the Western European continent by Nazi Germany between 1942 and 1944. The “wall” was a defense against an anticipated Allied invasion. “Almost a million French workers were drafted to build” the fortifications and “it was frequently mentioned in Nazi propaganda, where its size and strength were usually exaggerated.” In addition to actual walls, the defenses “included colossal coastal guns, batteries, mortars, and artillery. Thousands of German troops were stationed along it but it failed to hold back the eventual Allied invasion in 1944. Today, ruins of the wall exist in all of the nations where the wall was built, although many structures have fallen into the ocean or have been demolished” [Wikipedia].
Going further back in time, Hadrian’s Wall was constructed in the Roman province of Britannia as a defensive fortification in 122 A.D. “It ran from the banks of the River Tyne near the North Sea to the Solway Firth on the Irish Sea”. It was the northern limit of the Roman Empire and was built to keep out the Scottish ‘barbarians’. The stone wall varied in size but was 11 feet high and 20 feet wide in places. It was 73 miles long with a fort and garrison about every five Roman miles (longer than standard miles). “In addition to the wall’s defensive military role, its gates may have been used as customs posts. A significant portion of the wall still stands and can be followed on foot along the adjoining Hadrian’s Wall Path. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern England and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987” [Wikipedia].
The Green Monster, part of the outfield wall inside Fenway Park, is arguably one of the most famous walls and not just among sports fans. The Green Monster is 37 feet and two inches tall in left field and at “only 310–315 feet from home plate… [it] is a popular target for right-handed hitters” [Wikipedia]. It is the pride and joy of Boston and the Red Sox organization and stands out as one of the top three iconic features of a professional sport venue (and it just happens to be a wall).
The last of the seven famous walls, of course, is Donald Trump’s Wall of Racism and Bullshit! It’s not even a real wall yet and already Donald Trump’s Wall of Racism and Bullshit is one of the world’s most famous walls. Do an internet search for “Wall of Racism and Bullshit” and you’re sure to find this not yet built, 30-foot tall masterpiece of concrete, steel, racism, and bullshit. The border of the United States and Mexico is 1,989 miles long but I’m sure Mr. Trump and his supporters aren’t worried about the massive undertaking or cost. Once Mexico sends their $25 Billion check for the Wall of Racism and Bullshit, all there will be left to worry about is picking an architect, a contractor, and designing the most badass structure of penile-compensation this planet has ever seen! This project clearly has massive support among racists and bull-shitters but what about the other 10% of Republicans? I’m sure they’ll come around now that Donald
Trump Drumpf (#MakeDonaldDrumpfAgain) is the party’s official nominee. Walls are so fun, aren’t they?!
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Map 102 is about average travel time to work. My commute is 13-16 minutes in normal weather (13-57 minutes in Minnesota Winters). I am quite lucky now to have a short commute (it would be dark green on the map). It’s not my shortest commute ever, I once worked a mile from home, but it’s very manageable. My longest commute ever was from St. Paul to Shakopee when Beth and I were in our fourth year working at Valleyfair. That trip was 26 miles each way and with rush hour traffic could (and did occasionally) take up to an hour. Now, this map was made using data from 2003 but I couldn’t find a more current source so I’m going with it.
Many people are not as lucky as I am currently as you can see in the map. Six Western States have the shortest average commutes. The Dakotas have an average of 16 minutes or less. Minnesota is in the middle with a 20.1 to 24 minute average as is Nevada, Oregon, and Rhode Island. Some of the states with the worst commutes are obvious, such as California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Maryland. Georgia is also fairly long which was more of a surprise to me. I would have guessed Connecticut would have been in the top category as well but it is in the second tier with Florida, Virginia, Washington, Hawaii, and Massachusetts. So, if you’re in the market for a shorter commute, and don’t have the ability to work from home (as I wish to do one day), take this 13 year old map to heart and move to a Dakota or Omaha, Nebraska.
Until next time,