A fascinating online book (that you’ve already paid for)

More often than not, trolling websites that end with “.gov” is about as much fun as renewing your driver’s license. But if you check out the U.S. Census Bureau’s website, you can fully access a truly awesome book: the Census Atlas of the United States.

True to the federal government’s prominent place on the trailing edge of information technology, the 302-page report, containing 800 maps populated by data compiled through 2000, is available in 18 PDF files (very Web 1.0). Sure, it’s a bit of a slog — the largest PDF weighs in at 21 MB — but it’s fun to wander such diverse sections as college dormitory population, prevalent language spoken at home, and percentage of commuters who carpool.

You’ll find fascinating information you may not have known about our country: 90 years after My Antonia, Nebraska still has a high percentage of Czech-speaking citizens, and (perhaps not so surprising) Nevada contains the highest ratio of divorcées to marrieds.

This post is from Observer Short List—an email of three favorite things from people you want to know. Sign up to receive OSL here. A fascinating online book (that you’ve already paid for)