Critical mass: Berkeley and ancient Rome

A BBC site enables you to compare dimensions to your locality

Berkeley’s geographic footprint has always seemed just right: big enough for diversity but small enough to be manageable. Perhaps there really is something just right about the size. A new website from the BBC allows for all sorts of intriguing comparisons. What if you transplanted China’s Great Wall to the American West? It turns out it would stretch from Minnesota to San Francisco. How big was the Colossus of Rhodes’ legspan? He’d comfortably straddle Berkeley’s city government building.

What was most striking, however, was how accurately Berkeley maps on to some of the great creative centers of the past. Augustan Rome? Almost exactly the same size as Berkeley (see above). Haussmann’s Paris? Ditto. And if you connected the Piraeus of San Francisco to the Athens of Berkeley, you’d have almost the exact dimensions of Periclean Athens.