The Centroid, or mean center of population, is “the point at which an imaginary, flat, weightless, and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if weights of identical value were placed on it so that each weight represented the location of one person on the date of the census.” The United States Census Bureau calculates this point each census, beginning in 1790 near Chestertown, Maryland. The point has moved steadily westward, currently residing near Plato, Missouri after the 2010 census.
The path mirrors the population growth of our nation, following the routes of settlement from the Atlantic to the interior. It also mirrors my personal history, linking my current home in Maryland to my Midwestern roots in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri.
Centroid Towns is a social documentary project creating a portrait of the towns tagged by this historical coordinate. Preliminary photographic fieldwork has been done in each town and and I am working to spend more time with the connected communities and investigating local historical archives. The project began in 2014 and is ongoing.
The project site has soft-launched, with content being added frequently.