Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Thriving Prohibition Booze Industry

Fortune Magazine published an article in 1931, during Prohibition, mapping out the thriving liquor industry of the time. Click the map for full resolution and a full legend.
Despite all the stories about rum-running, imports were much less significant than locally made beverages. Another big factor was "diverted" alcohol. This is alcohol that was produced for industrial purposes but then taken and re-distilled to remove toxins. Distillers posed as varnish, perfume or other chemical makers.

The map shows the regional patterns (easier to see on the full version) of liquor types and import routes. The south and rural areas (the smaller yellow splotches) had thriving local distilleries that created hard liquor from sugar cane, molasses or corn. Beet sugar was popular in Colorado and other western states. There was a large beer belt across the Midwest and into Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Wine* was (and still is) mainly produced in California and the eastern Great Lakes region. The small pink areas are places where smuggling and diverted alcohol predominated, and the green areas in the Northeast were where fruit liquors such as Apple Jack were made.

The little droplets along the Canadian and Mexican borders represent "border seepage."
Despite the picture above less than 3% of all liquor consumed was imported.

The article describes at length the quality of each region's booze heaping praise upon Maryland and Berkeley County, South Carolina while dissing Texas and Kansas.

Kansas, though righteous, has bad tastes. It drinks such nauseous home products as “sand-hill rye,” “sugar-moon” whisky, spiked beer, spiked soft drinks, and poorly made home-brew.
The full story archive can be seen here. It's long-winded but interesting. The main takeaway is that despite being illegal, the liquor industry of the time was about as normal as any other industry.

*Wine had a special status as it is part of religious ceremonies. It was also easy to create from a grape juice concentrate that could be legally transported.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Fresh New Six Pack of Maps

Spring beer season is back! A few years ago I posted some maps from the bottoms of beer packaging. Here are some new examples from my obsessive collection.
From California comes this dry, hoppy map from Anderson Valley Brewing. An extra malty monochrome color scheme adds a nice finish that smoothes out the jagged edges of the mountain roads.
This colorful map from Louisiana's Abita features floral notes and a complex coastline.
 Oregon's Full Sail uses some complex topography to balance out its simple map profile. Fruited plains accompany purple mountains gracefully. Good eye feel.
Shiner's complex geography pours into a smooth, straightforward map. A red star adds hints of location.
There are two ways to enjoy a Boulevard map from Kansas City. The outer more complex view gives way to a more blocky, local feel finished off with a large, red building.
This dark, chocolatey map comes from Avery Brewing of Boulder, Colorado. The deep cocoa malt is easily traversed by lighter milk-chocolatey passages. DO NOT use this map to find the brewery. They have moved out to the edge of town.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

How Ukraine Became Ukraine

The Washington Post has a pretty good map series titled "How Ukraine became Ukraine"
Unlike some of their previous 40 Maps articles, this one explains the history of the region without the clickbait.
Russian claims begin with the settlement of the Rus people in and around Kiev. Their trade routes with the near east went through the Crimean peninsula. Control of parts of the area has continuously shifted among the Mongols, Russians, Swedes, Turks, Hungarians, Slovaks and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Under Soviet rule, much of the rural population was displaced or starved to death, Their settlements were replaced with native Russians, complicating the ethnic picture of the region. The complete text and map set can be seen here.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Selma March Byway

Fifty years ago, on March 7th, 1965, the first Selma to Montgomery March for civil rights was attempted. Several hundred marchers planned to follow US Route 80 (The Jefferson Davis Highway) to the Alabama state capital in Montgomery. They made it as far as the Pettus Bridge (see Selma detail map below) before being attacked by state troopers and forced to turn back.  Two days later a second march was planned but was also cut short by a court order. The third march began March 21st and included 25,000 people with the protection of federal troops. The 54 mile walk to Montgomery was completed in three days.
The route of the march is now one of America's Byways...
Journey through history along the trail that marks one of the major historic events in 20th-century American history, the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March, led by Martin Luther King, Jr. Wind through the streets of Selma; pass through countryside where marchers spent the night on their way to Montgomery.
...and also a National Historic Trail

The Selma Voting Rights Movement that led to the 1965 Voting Rights Act, introduced in Congress during the third march.