How the States Got Their Shapes: History Channel Documentary Film with Brian Unger and Mark Stein

by DerdriuMarriner

How the States Got Their Shapes is a four-disc, two-season History Channel documentary film with author Mark Stein and host Brian Unger.

State shapes are finalized by politicians and surveyors

The four-disc, two-season History Channel documentary film How the States Got Their Shapes acquaints culture and travel enthusiasts with the reasons why 50 unified parts so non-uniform in look and size keep the United States of America from being known as the United Shapes of America. It brings together for audiences of 2011/2012 in image-filled, information-rich audio-visual format hosted by Brian Unger the cultural, geographical, historical, political, and socio-economic details for which the same-titled book by Mark Stein is praised from 2008 onward. It in fact considers not only the motivations for configuring the states but also those for maintaining or modifying twenty-first century boundaries.

The ensemble draws amateurs, experts, and newbies into timeless, timely learning fun.

*****

Website: http://www.history.com/shows/how-the-states-got-their-shapes

*****

Among shapes tackled in "How the States Got Their Shapes" is the urban myth that attributes Boston's winding streets to colonial cow paths:

"Cow Paths": fiberglass cow by E.G. Fitzsimmons for CowParade, sited in Boston, Massachusetts, in 2006
Boston, southeastern Massachusetts
Boston, southeastern Massachusetts

State shapes bring together residents, if not neighbors

 

The assurance of water emerges as the original determinant in boundary-marking the oldest states. Its availability finds itself:

  • absent from boundary-marking for Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming; and
  • present in extending super-arid Nevada’s boundaries southeastward to include the Colorado River.

It generates continued controversy with Georgia claiming its 35th parallel boundary 1 mile (1.61 kilometer) further north into Tennessee and thereby considering the Tennessee River a water body of the fourth-admitted state, not the sixteenth.

But water holds greater sway in the eastern half of the United States of America, whose land patterns and use are determined by original private ownership. Boundary-marking in the largely government-owned western half contrastingly is influenced more by nature, politics, and transportation. 

 

"How the States Got Their Shapes" presents historical stately possibilities -- such as Adelsverein in Texas, Deseret in southwest, and Forgottonia in Illinois -- as well as modern stately movements, such as the State of Jefferson:

Since 1941 counties in northern California and southern Oregon have sought statehood as the State of Jefferson.
A barn near Yreka, California, and the proposed capitol of the State of Jefferson
A barn near Yreka, California, and the proposed capitol of the State of Jefferson

State shapes cluster cultural differences and economic interests

 

As ratified per treaty with Mexico by the U.S. Senate on April 25, 1854, the Gadsden Purchase of 29,640 square miles (76,767.25 square kilometers) jimmies Arizona’s and New Mexico’s borders southward to make possible the Southern Pacific Railroad by building and connecting, from Louisiana to California:

  • Central Pacific Railroad;
  • Morgan’s Louisiana and Texas Railroad; and
  • Texas and New Orleans Railroad.

Nature knits western boundaries as much as do bus, car, plane, train, and truck networks since fertile, mineral-rich land sustains California, Colorado, Dakotas, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Religion likewise leaves its mark westward with Brigham Young (June 1, 1801 – August 29, 1877) recognizing Utah as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ new homeland. 

 

Trailer: How The States Got Their Shapes

Uploaded to YouTube on January 10, 2012 by goentertain ~ URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AzLPElmEAkE

State shapes dovetail "dude," r-less, and "yall" speakers

 

Brian moves on through such potential border-breakers as:

  • believers, non-believers;
  • blue-collar, white-collar wearers;
  • country-folks, urbanites;
  • easterners, westerners;
  • farmers, ranchers;
  • hillbillies, rednecks;
  • northerners, southerners; and
  • poor, rich.

He notes four potentially separatist power grids:

  • Maine;
  • Rockies eastward;
  • Rockies westward; and
  • Texas.

He opts for unity in diversity since northern potatoes and southern seafood make Maine chowder super-delicious.

So How the States Got Their Shapes provides culturally enriching, educationally entertaining, and geo-historically enthralling insights into marking, minding, and modifying borders and cultures, thanks to:

  • A&E Television Networks, LLC, distributor;
  • Paul Cabana, History Channel executive producer;
  • Ann Carroll, Sean Gallagher, Abby Greensfelder, Greg Smith, Half Yard Productions, LLC, executive producers;
  • David Konschnik, director;
  • Mark Stein, author; and
  • Brian Unger, host. 

 

How the States Got Their Shapes: Season 1 ~ hosted by Brian Unger ~ Available now via Amazon

state shapes

How the States Got Their Shapes: Season 2 ~ hosted by Brian Unger ~ Available now via Amazon

state shapes

How The States Got Their Shapes Season 1 ~ hosted by Brian Unger ~ Available now via Amazon Instant Video: Buy with 1-Click®

state shapes

How The States Got Their Shapes Season 2 ~ hosted by Brian Unger ~ Available now via Amazon Instant Video: Buy with 1-Click®

state shapes

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

Generally viewed as a tongue-in-cheek separatist movement, the Conch Republic encompasses Florida Keys and attracts tourists through annual week-long Independence Day festivities on April 23; Office of Secretary General issues souvenir passports:

Conch Republic, nicknamed "A Sovereign State of Mind," was coaxed into existence on April 23, 1982, in response to US Border Patrol blockage of Florida Keys.
Office of Secretary General of Conch Republic, Key West, Florida
Office of Secretary General of Conch Republic, Key West, Florida

Sources Consulted

 

Stein, Mark. 2008. How the States Got Their Shapes. New York, NY: Smithsonian/HarperCollins. 

Stein, Mark, 2011. How the States Got Their Shapes Too: The People Behind the Borderlines. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Books. 

 

the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

How the States Got Their Shapes by Mark Stein ~ Available now via Amazon

state shapes

How the States Got Their Shapes Too: The People Behind the Borderlines by Mark Stein ~ Available now via Amazon

state shapes

USA watercolor map: black t-shirt ~ Available now via AllPosters

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Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 06/25/2015, DerdriuMarriner
 
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DerdriuMarriner on 07/06/2015

CruiseReady, The book and the DVD work together very, very nicely for great learning fun that can be enjoyed over and over again!

CruiseReady on 07/02/2015

Oh, this is something I really must see! it sounds like just the type of thing I would enjoy, and so much more worthwhile than yet another episode of the Big Bang Theory

DerdriuMarriner on 06/29/2015

Mira, I believe that the series is so highly regarded that it runs conveniently often on cable. It's worth the watch since the information is so interesting and so well presented, in both the book and the DVD!

DerdriuMarriner on 06/29/2015

blackspanielgallery, It's among my favorite programs because of Brian's intelligent charisma, the fun quizzes, and the great images and interactions with interviewees!

DerdriuMarriner on 06/29/2015

Mira, Brian Unger brings the engaging, informed perspective of a Romanian-American from Ohio transplanted to California while Mark Stein has that of a German-American from Maryland whose career involves writing books and scripts (including Housesitter with Goldie Hawn and Steve Martin).
It's great learning fun to have both the audio-visual and the text since the DVD arranges material thematically (for example, geography-, mining-, transportation influenced borders) whereas the book organizes information by alphabetically ordered states. So when Brian is talking about weird borders (such as Maine and Nevada), it's easy to find the state information in Mark's book and vice versa.

blackspanielgallery on 06/28/2015

It is an interesting program. I have seen many episodes.

Mira on 06/25/2015

I see Season 1 is $21. Rather expensive, but so are most TV series. I'll try to catch it on cable.

Mira on 06/25/2015

This sounds very interesting!:)

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