How the States Got Their Shapes

Tuesday 10:00 PM on The History Channel Premiered May 03, 2011 Between Seasons




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  • Season 1 (10)
  • The United Shapes of America

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 19 - 12/22/12

    After three years on the road, host Brian Unger is taking a different look at just how our states got their shapes. We'll hear about the unique American values that have made this country what it is today, and travel from coast to coast and everywhere in between. Along the way, Brian reveals that just as we shaped the map, it has shaped us.moreless
  • Big vs. Small

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 18 - 12/15/12

    Does size matter when you're a state? Giants like California and Alaska like to throw their weight around but there are some underdogs that can be big bullies when it comes to the map. Big or small, all Americans think their states are equal, but can the little guys cut the big states down to size?moreless
  • Rich vs. Poor

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 17 - 12/8/12

    Money makes the world go `round and in America, the pursuit of fortune and riches has shaped our states. Some states have built enormous economies on resources like gold, oil, or timber, but they first had to draw their borders around all the riches in order to stake a claim. In the race to grab up all the country's treasures, which states were slowest on the uptake, and which came out on top?moreless
  • State vs. State

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 16 - 12/8/12

    We're the united states, but make no mistake - sometimes, it's every state for itself. At one point or another, nearly every state has pulled a power play that has changed the map to its own advantage. Which states are the worst offenders, and which are the biggest losers? And how much can you get away with before the other states cry foul?moreless
  • Mess with Texas

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 15 - 11/24/12

    Everything is bigger in Texas. It's the only state that acts like a country, but has it grown too big for its britches? We'll mess with Texas to settle this ten- gallon rivalry.moreless
  • Rebels & Outlaws

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 14 - 11/17/12

    We may be a law-abiding nation but we also admire the outlaw, and the clash between rebels and the rules has shaped our states. Which states like to make their own rules, and which do the heat have on lockdown?moreless
  • East vs. West

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 13 - 11/10/12

    The squabble between east coast and west coast leaves the rest of the country stuck in the middle. It's a rivalry that has made its way into our popular culture, but is there any common ground in this continental tug of war?moreless
  • City vs. Country

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 12 - 11/3/12

    In the battle between city and country, it looks like the city is coming out ahead in population, but is there something about the country that all the city slickers are missing? And how has the move from rural to urban changed the shapes of our states and cities?moreless
  • Is West Best?

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 11 - 11/3/12

    Americans have been racing to tame the West since they first set foot on the continent, but now that the West has been won, what's next? Is the West still the best.
  • Midwest vs. the Rest

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 10 - 10/27/12

    It's the glue that holds our map together and feeds America, but the Midwest is more than just state fairs and flyover country.
  • Vice vs. Virtue

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 9 - 10/27/12

    Americans have a lot of vices and they don't just stay in Vegas. From drugs to gambling, the state you live in may shape how bad you can be.
  • Battle of the Bible Belt

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 8 - 10/19/12

  • Great Lakes, Big Stakes

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 7 - 10/19/12

  • Bigfoot vs. Aliens

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 6 - 10/13/12

    America is a nation under siege by unexplained phenomena. Whether you're afraid of Bigfoot or alien invasion might depend on what state you call home.
  • North vs. South

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 5 - 10/13/12

    It's America's original rivalry, a divide that was so wide it took a war to close the gap. But have we really reunited, or are we still fighting a culture war?
  • Hatfields vs. McCoys

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 4 - 10/6/12

    America's most iconic rivalry was more than just a feud between families. The fight between the Hatfields and McCoys nearly launched a war between two states.
  • Hillbilly vs. Redneck

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 3 - 10/6/12

    Two underdogs of American culture go head to head to prove how hillbillies and rednecks have shaped our states.
  • White Collar vs. Blue Collar

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 2 - 9/29/12

    Deep in the Rust Belt the white collar and blue collar divide has shaped our cities and our states. How did this rivalry change the way we all bring home the bacon?
  • Red State vs. Blue State

    Full Episode

    S 2 : Ep 1 - 9/29/12

    It's a rivalry that tears us apart every four years, but how did our nation divide into red states vs. blue states, and what happens to the states caught in the middle?
  • Mouthing Off

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 10 - 7/12/11

    Accents and language are probably the most obvious signifiers of where one hails from on the map. The use of common words, phrases and pronunciations tends to forge an identity that can cross, circumvent and undermine traditional borders. Southern accents, California slang, regional words like pop or soda or soda pop - all tend to bond a group of people with a sense of family togetherness, and clearly identify outsiders.

  • Culture Clash

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 9 - 7/5/11

    Will cultural rivalries lead to the break-up of some states - or to the formation of new ones? Several states are almost divided in half - such as the great divide between northern Florida's cowboy culture and the more cosmopolitan society of the south. Likewise, some of the more rustic citizens of Maine are quick to distance themselves from the city-dwellers along the Massachusetts border - and would gladly be rid of them! The cultural disconnects were so great in California that some observers claim it took World War II to hold it together.

  • A Boom With a View

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 8 - 6/28/11

    How important is money to the formation of our states? Gold strikes, bank runs, free land, job growth and depressions have each had a major impact on where people move - and where people move often determines where borders are set. The discovery of natural resources can draw a flood of folks, such as the first major American gold rush in North Carolina and the California Gold Rush (1848–55), which so captured the popular imagination that it led to the rapid settlement of that state and its almost immediate entry into the union in 1850.

  • Church and States

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 7 - 6/21/11

    Faith, and the powers behind it, have shaped our states ever since the Pilgrims first landed at Plymouth Rock. Religious conflict helped form the borders of New England and limit the size of Utah. And even today, religious allegiances are rewriting our political borders as the struggle over "red" and "blue" states intensifies, "gerrymandering" us into separate groups and sections - essentially forming new "borders".

  • Use It or Lose It

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 6 - 6/14/11

    Why did Washington, DC become our capital and not, say, St. Louis? And who took a bite out of the District of Columbia - which was planned as a perfect diamond? Political and legal decisions often overrule precedent and planning - and even reason. Will our map stay as it is today? Are our borders finally set in stone? Well, that's probably up to the politicians and the voters as much as anything else.

  • Living On the Edge

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 5 - 6/7/11

    Why do we have "blank spots" like Area 51 all over our map? Who's hiding what from whom? And why do some sections of the country, such as Key West in Florida, yearn to secede from their "neighbors", while others adapt to change by reinventing themselves - such as the hardy folks in Kansas who transformed dusty old missile silos into beautiful, five-bedroom homes? And, although it remains a part of the state legally, why was Dade County apparently left off the Georgia State Quarter? Was it being punished for harboring secessionist sentiments left over from the Civil War?

  • State of Rebellion

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 4 - 5/24/11

    Why do some states look like they've taken a bite out of their neighbors, while others look as if they've been broken in half? War and ornery attitudes have affected our map as much as anything else. Pride and political power have had a lot to say about some states surrendering large sections of territory while others, such as Texas, remain virtually untouched.

  • Force of Nature

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 3 - 5/17/11

    More powerful than man, and even more powerful than steam locomotives or gas-guzzling Mack trucks, great geological formations have often had the final say in forming our borders. Glaciers, asteroids, earthquakes and floods have rewritten the map in the past and nature continues to alter it today - forcing people, and their borders, to adapt to unrelenting change.

  • The Great Plains, Trains & Automobiles

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 2 - 5/10/11

    The history of transportation has rewritten our map several times as we changed from a culture of canals and Riverboats to steam-powered locomotives and then to cars and trucks. As we expanded westward, even the shapes of states changed due to the landscape forged by train tracks, communication lines and highways. The "drive" for transportation prompted Illinois' fight to control Chicago, -which meant access to the Great Lakes and an all-important rail bridge. Later, however, as transport needs changed, some sections of the country were left behind and all but forgotten.

  • A River Runs Through It

    Full Episode

    S 1 : Ep 1 - 5/3/11

    Water formed natural boundaries long before bridges and highways crisscrossed the country. But, over time, water changes course - and conflict often ensues when it does. Why do some states seem to get more water than they need while others go without? Today, far from forming stable borders, rivers, lakes and streams are still changing the map - and breeding conflict.