U.S. Interstate Highways, as a Transit Map
View the high-resolution infographic to see the most legible version.
Transit style maps are sort of a “rite of passage” for any upstart information designer.
People tend to be obsessed with them, and for good reason. What the maps lack in attention to fine details, they make up in their sheer ease of use, organization, and ability to reduce complex geography to simple, elegant shapes. They show the big picture in way that’s easy to follow, even for seemingly unrelated topics like the extensive road network of the Roman Empire.
Today’s infographic fits in with this theme, coming from designer Cameron Booth. Showcasing the network of Interstate Highways in the United States, it puts the transit map style to good use.
Note: The design shown is from about five years ago, but here’s an updated 2017 version in poster form.
The Interstate Highway System
You may know the network of roads simply as “the Interstate”, but it actually has a much longer and official sounding title: The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. That’s because it was championed by President Eisenhower in the 1950s during his first term in office, after he saw the logistical effectiveness of the new Reichsautobahn in Germany.
Here are some facts about the Interstate Highway System that you may not know:
- Part of the justification of building the system was to have a means to evacuate citizens from major cities during nuclear attacks.
- The system was designed so that in an evacuation situation, traffic could be directed to move in all lanes in one direction.
- In today’s dollars, the cost of construction was approximately $526 billion.
- Activists got frustrated with the construction, and stopped highways in New York, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and New Orleans. As a result, some urban routes ended up as “roads to nowhere”.
- In a mile of highway, there are about 3 million tons of concrete. In comparison there are 6.6 million tons of concrete in the Hoover Dam.
- Roughly 374,000 vehicles travel on the I-405 in Los Angeles every day – no wonder it’s the city with the most traffic in the world.
Today, there are now approximately 47,856 miles (77,017 km) of highway in the system – about 6,000 miles (9,700 km) more than originally planned. Meanwhile, the Interstate Highway System accounts for one-quarter of all vehicle miles driven in the country.
Ranked: America’s Best Universities
Evaluated on 19 different metrics, here’s the list of America’s best universities, led by 14 private schools.
Ranked: America’s Best Universities
The latest ranking of America’s best universities is here, perfectly timed for the approaching admissions season.
“Best” is of course subjective, and U.S. News and World Report has compiled 19 metrics on which they evaluated more than 400 national universities. Some of them include:
- Graduation rates & performance: A four-year rolling average of the proportion of each entering class earning a bachelor’s degree in six years or less. Performance is measured against predictions made by the publishers, and when beaten, the university gains a higher scoring.
- Peer assessment: A two-year weighted average of ratings from top academics—presidents, provosts and deans of admissions—on academic quality of peer institutions with which they are familiar.
- Financial resources: The average per student spend on instruction, research, student services and related educational expenditures in the 2021 fiscal year.
- Debt: A school’s average accumulated federal loan debt among borrowers only.
- Pell graduation rates & performance: the same calculation as stated above, but focused only on Pell Grant students, adjusted to give more credit to schools with larger Pell student proportions.
The website’s methodology section details how they sourced their data, the weights assigned to each metric, and their changes over the years.
From the hundreds assessed come the nearly 50 best universities that offer a variety of undergraduate majors, post-graduate programs, emphasize research, or award professional practice doctorates.
Which are the Best Universities in America?
At the top of the list, Princeton University is the best university in the country, known for its physics, economics, and international relations departments. Notably, it’s a rare Ivy league university that does not have a law, medical, or business school.
Here’s the full ranking of America’s best universities, along with annual tuition requirements.
|1||Princeton University||New Jersey||$59,710|
|7||Duke University||North Carolina||$66,172|
|9||Brown University||Rhode Island||$68,230|
|12||Columbia University||New York||$65,524|
|12||Cornell University||New York||$66,014|
|12||University of Chicago||Illinois||$65,619|
|18||Dartmouth College||New Hampshire||$65,511|
|20||University of Notre Dame||Indiana||$62,693|
Michigan, Ann Arbor
|22||Georgetown University||Washington, DC||$65,082|
|22||University of North|
Carolina at Chapel Hill
|North Carolina||$39,338 (out-state)
|24||Carnegie Mellon University||Pennsylvania||$63,829|
|24||University of Virginia||Virginia||$58,950 (out-state)
University, St. Louis
California, San Diego
|28||University of Florida||Florida||$28,658 (out-state)
|35||New York University||New York||$60,438|
|35||University of Illinois|
|New Jersey||$36,001 (out-state)
|40||University of Washington||Washington||$41,997 (out-state)
|43||The Ohio State University||Ohio||$36,722 (out-state)
|47||Texas A&M University||Texas||$40,607 (out-state)
|47||University of Georgia||Georgia||$30,220 (out-state)
|47||University of Rochester||New York||$64,384|
|47||Virginia Tech||Virginia||$36,090 (out-state)
|47||Wake Forest University||North Carolina||$64,758|
|53||Florida State University||Florida||$21,683 (out-state)
|53||William & Mary||Virginia||$48,841 (out-state)
MIT places second, and Harvard and Stanford tie for third. Yale rounds out the top five.
Private universities, including seven Ivy League colleges, dominate the top of the rankings. Meanwhile, the highest-ranked public schools are tied at 15th, both state schools in California.
For affordability, since the higher ranks are populated by private universities, there tends to be a broad correlation of better universities being more expensive. That said, the most expensive school in the top 50 ranks is actually the University of Southern California, tied at 28th, for $68,237/year.
As it happens, also tied at 28th, the University of Florida is the most affordable public school for in-state students ($6,381/year) and Florida State University tied at 53rd, is the most affordable for out-of-staters at $21,683/year.
However these costs are tuition-only, and don’t account for other necessary expenses: accommodation, food, and textbooks.
Best University versus Best “Fit”
Finding the best university for prospective students is more than just perusing a long ranking list.
Aside from the numerous schools present within each university—which can often be the best for specific majors—factors like location, proximity to family, campus culture, the non-academic pursuits (sports, extracurriculars, internships) are also taken into consideration.
In fact, research has found that just attaining a university degree improves future earnings potential and employability.
Furthermore, individual engagement at college (irrespective of the rank of the school in question) plays a far bigger role in learning and general well-being than simply attending a highly-ranked school.
However, for low income and minority students, attending a top-ranked school does improve future earnings considerably. For women, it also often results in delaying marriage and kids, which results in more work-hours and as a result, more pay.
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