The story has several similar maps. Its other type of map divides the country into two, different three, four, 10, 20, 50, 100, 150, 200 and 435 parts, the last figure being the number of congressional districts. Those maps are intriguing because they show connections between states and divisions within states. Here's an example of the latter:
Finally, the Times generated a map showing that "some of the most economically distressed parts of the country appear to be the most disconnected: Among the 10 U.S. counties with the highest share of friends within 50 miles, six are in Kentucky." We suspect that has something to do with the state’s prevalence of small counties.