“For better or worse, the way Congressional districts are drawn can determine who wins elections, which communities are represented, and what laws are passed. Explore how your own district has changed (sometimes dramatically) over time.”
That’s the introduction to What the District, the ACLU’s nifty website showing changes in Congressional maps since I was born. I opted to select Binghamton, NY, on the Southern Tier of the state as my point of reference because it was my hometown, so I’m more aware of the changes over time.
The chart above does NOT show the size of the district, although you get a sense of it as you directly type in a city, or for larger places, the ZIP Code. In the earlier years, the Binghamton district was pretty compact.
Then in the 1970s, it sprawled eastward for most redistricting periods. When I was in New Paltz, near the Hudson River, in that decade, I was surprised to discover I was now in the same district as Binghamton.
Interestingly, after the 2010 Census, the district stretched northward to include Utica instead of eastward.
The specific description of my home district: “Today, this is New York’s 22nd district. Eleven other districts have served this area since 1953. As in most states, the New York state legislature has the power to draw new congressional district boundaries.”
One of the realities in New York State is that it has lost Congressional representation from 43 in 1953 to 27 in 2013. It could go down further in 2023, not because of an absolute loss in population from decade to decade, but because other states are growing at a faster clip.
“New York state has the 9 smallest Congressional districts in the country by land area, all of them less than 30 square miles in size.” Of course all of those are in New York City, not upstate.