A Map of American Electricity Use in 1921

Power was not evenly distributed.

Electricity_Consumption_Cartogram_1921_Literary_Digest.jpg

It's hard to remember a time when not everyone had electricity, and when those that did used it sparingly. That's because from about 1900 to 1965 or so, the electric power industry pushed the price of electricity down and down and down. By the end of their incredible technological (and corporate) surge, electricity cost very little and Americans used a lot of it.

And because it was cheap and the government had intervened in rural areas through outfits like the Tennessee Valley Authority, electricity became very evenly distributed across the land (though, even now, the price per kilowatt hour varies substantially).

In 1921, however, that was not true. The use of electricity did not basically track population. Instead, there were wide regional variations in access to and consumption electricity. In essence, the entire south used relatively less electricity than the rest of the country. 

Nowadays, that's not true.  Texas, Florida, Alabama, and Georgia are all among the top ten states for electricity production (along with Pennsylvania, Illinois, California, New York, Washington, and Ohio). Which is not what you see on the map above. Credit low prices, air conditioning, and increasing populations.

Via Jesse Jenkins at the Energy Collective

Presented by

What LBJ Really Said About Selma

"It's outrageous what's on TV. It looks like that man is in charge of the country."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

What LBJ Really Said About Selma

"It's going to go from bad to worse."

Video

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Inside a family's fight to use marijuana oils to treat epilepsy

Video

A Miniature 1950s Utopia

A reclusive artist built this idealized suburb to grapple with his painful childhood memories.

Video

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her school. Then the Internet heard her story.

More in Technology

Just In