The News from Plato, Mo., Magic Town

“Townspeople, elected representatives, government officials and hundreds of students today celebrated the naming of Plato, as the 2010 Census U.S. center of population. Amid music, speeches, banners and cheers, village chairman Bob Biram welcomed the crowd, saying, ‘We’re proud of our village. As one of our students said, ‘we’re in the middle of nowhere; now we are in the middle of everywhere.’  Each decade after tabulating the decennial census, the Census Bureau calculates the mean center of population for the country, as well as for each state and county. The national center of population is determined as the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the United States would balance perfectly if all 308,745,538 residents counted in the 2010 Census were of identical weight.

Following the 2010 Census, the U.S. center of population is at 37.517534 north latitude and 92.173096 west longitude. This spot in Missouri’s Texas County is approximately 2.9 miles east of Plato, an incorporated village in the heart of the Ozarks with a 2010 Census population of 109…. Since 1790, the center of population has moved in a westerly direction, with a more pronounced southerly pattern the past few decades. The new center of population now stands 873 miles from the first center in 1790, which was located near Chestertown in Kent County, Md.”

From Wikipedia’s summary of the movie Magic Town: Lawrence ‘Rip’ Smith (played by James Stewart), disappointed with inaccuracies from polling results, searches for a community in the middle of United States that can give perfect results when used for polling. When he finally founds a town where citizens’ opinions perfectly mirror those of the American people as a whole, he sets up an undercover operation there. Over time, he gets involved with town inhabitants, and eventually the true nature of his operation is revealed. The town transforms almost overnight; citizens aware of their special status instead of giving the sensible polling answers as in the past they give outlandish ones. The town’s reputation is ruined, together with Smith’s plan. Smith however decides to save the town from itself.

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