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This post was written by Andy Kirk, founder and editor of visualisingdata.com. Andy will be guest editing Information Aesthetics for a short period while Andrew takes a well earned break.

Another of the most discussed and viewed projects over the past week has been the visualization by Derek Watkins [derekwatkins.wordpress.com] which presents an animated sequence of the expansion of the US depicted by the spread of post offices.

You can read in detail about Derek's data gathering and design process in his blog post but in a nutshell he scraped post office location information from the USPS Postmaster Finder, plotted their lat/long coordinates and developed the animated visualization using Processing.

The result is a fascinating historical journey through the expansion of the US as it transforms from the lopsided weight of population in the East to the development of the West. Derek's suggested timeline of key events reveal the reasons behind the patterns that emerge, such as the impact of the gold rush in the middle 1800s and the Oklahoma land grabs of the 1890s.

You can view the animated visualization via the embedded video below or in higher quality HD and 1080p on vimeo.

See also:
- Standford's Visualization: Journalism's Voyage West

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