ᴅᴀᴠɪᴅ ᴘᴇʀᴇʟʟ ✌ @david_perell "The Writing Guy" | Host of the North Star Podcast: perell.com/podcast | Writing at perell.com/ | Teaching at writeofpassage.school/ Jan. 09, 2020 1 min read

Chicago is America’s true transportation hub.

First, with freight.

Commodities like iron, timber, coal, and grains all moved through Chicago by train.

Now, with airplanes.

It’s a hub for United and American Airlines, and for years, it was the busiest airport in the world.

Here’s a map of America’s railroads from 1918.

Even then, Chicago was the center of gravity for the entire system.

The Belt Railway is the largest train switching company in America.

They dispatch ~8,400 cars per day.

And it’s based in... you guessed it!... Chicago.


As a comparison, here’s a map of the U.S Highway system which is much more decentralized.

Like America’s population, its center-of-gravity is shifted to the north-east, but it doesn’t run converge at a single point like rail lines do.

Okay, back to trains.

My favorite building in Chicago, the Board of Trade Building, is also one of the most important buildings in the city.

Lots of American commodities moved through Chicago, and this building was the hub for grain trading.

Plus... Art Deco architecture 😍

To find the center-of-gravity for air freight, you have to go South.

The UPS hub is in Louisville, Kentucky.

The FexEx hub is in Memphis, Tennessee.

Both hubs were chosen because they’re centrally located in the U.S. and they have warm weather, so the airports rarely shut down

The center of America's population is now shifting southwest.

It's moving by ~12.8 inches every hour.

(h/t @isaach)

You can follow @david_perell.


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