In cities and towns why was the west side always seen as the best? Market Watch’s Steve Goldstein observes that researchers have found that it is ” due to the impact of air pollutants at the time of the Industrial Revolution, as prevailing winds in the U.S. and Europe typically blow from west to east.” Even today there is a price differential between the east and west sides of major cities even though the pollution that caused the difference has been minimized.
Called a “deprivation index”, pollution was the reason for up to 20 per cent of neighbourhood segregation based upon blue-collar workers and house prices. Even in pre-industrial times large cities like Paris and London had preferred west sides and east sides. The more polluted an area, the higher the percentage of low skilled workers living in the district. By examining 5,000 industrial “chimneys” located in 70 British cities 130 years ago, researchers found that the spatial distribution of pollution correlated with areas of deprivation in cities.
The findings have implications for planning today to ensure that residential areas are situated near prevailing winds and away from sources of pollutants. And even today, that west address is still seen as best.