The size of each state’s abbreviation swells in proportion to its size in population (states in darker blue have a larger share of the U.S. population, states in lighter blue have a smaller share).
Only three states (Virginia, New York and then California) have ever held the designation of the most populous. Those states are bracketed in red. Meanwhile, the cartwheeling red star approximates the westward shifting center of the U.S. population…Note how inconsequential California looks in 1870, and the moment, one century later, when it takes over from New York as the nation’s largest state by population.
via Atlantic Cities