The Best Episodes of How the States Got Their Shapes
Last Updated: May 19, 2019
We are so familiar with the map of United States, but do we know why our states look the way they do? Every shape on the map tells a great story about our past. This special examines how every state is a puzzle piece ultimately revealing the unique... geography, political and social history of America.
#4 - Rich vs. Poor
Season 2 - Episode 17
Money makes the world go 'round and in America, the pursuit of fortune and riches has shaped our states. Some states have built enormous economies on resources like gold, oil, or timber, but they first had to draw their borders around all the riches in order to stake a claim. In the race to grab up all the country's treasures, which states were the slowest on the uptake, and which came out on top?
#7 - City vs. Country
Season 2 - Episode 12
In the battle between city and country, it looks like the city is coming out ahead in population, but is there something about the country that all the city slickers are missing? And how has the move from rural to urban changed the shapes of our states and cities?
#11 - The United Shapes of America
Season 2 - Episode 19
After three years on the road, host Brian Unger is taking a different look at just how our states got their shapes. We'll hear about the unique American values that have made this country what it is today, and travel from coast to coast and everywhere in between. Along the way, Brian reveals that just as we shaped the map, it has shaped us.
#12 - Mouthing Off
Season 1 - Episode 10
We all live in the same country, so why do we sound do different? It's a matter of where you are on the map. Why didn't the southern accent exist until after the Civil War? How did California athletes end up coining so many new words? Why do we have so many different words for the same things -- like pop versus soda? Will one particularly strong accent cause New York to break up and create a 51st state?
#13 - East vs. West
Season 2 - Episode 13
The squabble between east coast and west coast leaves the rest of the country stuck in the middle. It's a rivalry that has made its way into our popular culture, but is there any common ground in this continental tug of war?
#18 - The Great Plains, Trains and Automobiles
Season 1 - Episode 2
The history of transportation is hidden in the lines of the map. From canals to trains and cars, how did getting around help draw the American map? Could Chicago have been in Wisconsin? Why are states out West or so big and boxy? And why did we almost had a state called Forgottonia?
#23 - State of Rebellion
Season 1 - Episode 4
How did the most rebellious states took shape? How did they earn their outsized features and outspoken reputations. For instance, why does Montana looks like it took a bite out of Idaho? Why wasn't Texas broken up into five states? And why exactly do we have not one but two Carolinas?