JF Ptak Science Books Post 2745
On this blog I have entertained stories about Manhattan being completely detached/uprooted, attacked by bloomers and aliens and spaceships and spaceship aliens, floated above itself, nuked (numerous times), miniaturized, crushed under sudden ice, joined to Brooklyn and New Jersey (?!), and other such game-enders. There have also been posts on data visualization techniques comparing the known to hard-to-grasp bits of other information or statistics or entities, using the Brooklyn Bridge, Woolworth Building, Empire State Building, Eiffel Tower, Hoover Dam, and so on, as measuring sticks for oil or nail or auto production and the like. It seems that only once before on this blog of nearly 5k posts has Manhattan been used as an intellectual tool of comparison for something non-nuclear-related, and that was for a salt mine. (And according to advisers to President Merkin Muffley the salt mine comes close to playing a strategic nuclear role.) This in mind, finding today's piece of Overtaken Manhattaniana was a fabulous bridge between two imaginary islands of not very useful data visualizations(s).
Image source: Popular Mechanics, 1912, pg 159.
So what we have here is the presentation of the yearly production of some principal crops of the USA for 1911, spread across Manhattan with a wide-data butter knife. Nestled between the two ears of corn is the tallest building in NYC (and the world) for 1911, Metropolitan Life, which stood 700' tall, and reigned for a few skinny years until the Woolworth Building was finished off at 792 feet in 1913. So it looks like the corns were about 2100' tall with a 600' diameter at the base. Big. On top of that rests a cigar which is crowned buy a loaf of bread, all of which lords over a sea of hay that covers the rest of the island and almost all of its buildings. For some reason nothing very creative is done with the potatoes, which are just sitting there in a 1000'-tall basket. In the upper left there is a positively enormous pouring of something-or-other of disaster movie proportions. It is slightly disappointing that the maker didn't figure out how many people it would take to eat all of that stuff in one day. (Throwing caution to the wind mainly because getting to the mostly-useless answer to this is not all that interesting, I will guess that it would require 10x the current global population to eat Manhattan clean in one day.)
There you have it.
The ironic thing here is that this use of corn size really doesn't tell you very much, except that corn production in the U.S. is (1) a lot and (2) more than bread, which of course you can tell by just looking at the numbers...though that isn't quite fair as it does give some basic common denominator for measures that are given in pounds, bushels, and bales. The point is that whether the twin corns were 2000' or 8000' tall probably didn't help your understanding of what the numbers meant. But all is fair in war and war, and since this is basically an info-toon, we'll just enjoy it for what it was, or is.