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Growth of Wal-Mart, Google Earth Animation

January 27th, 2009 No comments

Here’s a Google Earth time animation showing 3176 Walmart store openings in the USA, from 1962 to 2006. See how the business started out with a single retail location in Arkansas, then spread at an accelerating rate across different regions.

Video showing the animation running in Google Earth:

Grab the KML file for Google Earth here:

Walmart 1962-2006 (300kB)

  • Once it’s loaded, use the time control slider top of the main Google Earth window to play.
  • Because this is Google Earth, you can fly around and zoom in and out during the animation.

For anyone thinking this visualization looks vaguely familiar – hands-up, it’s not my idea, the animation is inspired by FlowingData‘s very slick, slippy-map animation of the same data, released last year, here.

To replicate that I’ve used the same KML carpet bombing technique as the flight path animations I knocked together a while back – each time a placemark appears I rapidly cycle through a sequence of Icons of decreasing size, to provide some visual punch.

Note: The location data isn’t all that precise in this – I think it’s just based on zip code area locations, not street addresses. But the stores generally aren’t too far away from the placemarks – look for the massive grey buildings with a zillion cars parked out front.