Art & Culture
January 14, 2015

You and Your Neighbourhood

Our Toronto correspondent, Lawrence Loh (congrats, Lawrence, you’ve just been upgraded), sends news on an intriguing study:

Just read another interesting article a friend showed me where they mapped personality types to neighbourhoods in London and found some interesting trends.

“The big takeaway: It’s not just social and economic forces that shape our neighborhoods. It’s psychological ones, too.”

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From CityLab: 

What Your Personality Has to Do With Your Neighborhood

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A new study published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by an international group of psychologists … takes a detailed look at the intersection of personality and happiness in London. …

The study explores the neighborhood clustering of the five basic personality traits defined by the classic five-factor model: openness to experience, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness and emotional stability (or lack of neuroticism). The researchers then examined the clustering of these personality traits and their effects on individuals’ happiness based on an online survey of some 56,000 people in the London metro area. …

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The last map plots life satisfaction. Unsurprisingly, the map roughly tracks the distribution of wealth throughout metro London, with happier residents generally clustered in the most well-to-do neighborhoods and those with lower levels of life satisfaction concentrated in areas of greater poverty and those with higher concentrations of ethnic minorities.

The study finds that neighborhood characteristics accounted for two-thirds of the variance in happiness across neighborhoods, indicating, as the researchers write, “a substantial link between sociodemographic factors and average life satisfaction of neighborhoods.”

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From Atlantic Cities: Mapping the Subtle Science of Parking Demand.

A new downtown condo winds up with too much parking. A multifamily apartment near a subway stop gets way too much. Even a low-rise suburban development likely doesn’t need quite such a sea of asphalt.
But we overbuild parking because that’s the way we’ve been doing it for years, and because the people who finance new developments fear what sounds like a risky investment: the transit-oriented development with hardly any parking at all.
The alternative isn’t simply to err on the other end of the spectrum; underestimate parking demand, and you wind up with equally real complications (and angry neighbors). So how do cities and developers get this right? How could they treat parking demand as a subtle science – with overlapping variables based on land use, transit access, demographics, jobs, rent pricing – instead of as an assumption?
The King County Metro Transit agency in the Seattle region has been working on this, with the help of the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Urban Land Institute Northwest. They’ve spent the past year trying to measure exactly which factors dictate residential parking demand around the region, in downtown Seattle, in urban neighborhoods, in the suburbs and even farther out. The result of their efforts is this Right Size Parking Calculator web application that can estimate parking demand down to a single parcel of land (and that should be replicated in other cities):

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More here.

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September 22, 2010

Eric Fischer maps the top 40 US cities by race, using 2000 census data. Each color-coded dot represents 25 people: Red is White, Blue is Black, Green is Asian, and Orange is Hispanic. The maps are oddly pretty, and revealing.

Here’s New York:

Yes, most American cities have pretty sharp lines between the colours.  But not all.  Can you guess this one:

It’s the only city over a million that is one-third white, one-third Hispanic, one-third Asian.

It’s San Jose and Silicon Valley.

For the 40 largest American cities, go here.  I’d love to see the Canadian equivalents.

And thanks to Gladys We.

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The latest from Bing Thom’s home-grown R&D division, BTA Works.

Blue indicates a decline in enrolment.

Research reveals that since 2004, enrollment in public elementary schools in the City of Vancouver has declined by more than 13 percent (over 2,600 students) — a continuation of a steady enrollment decline since 2000.

While our overall City population has grown, it is surprising to discover that public elementary school enrollment has actually been on the decline by so much and for such a long time”, observed Andrew Yan, a BTAworks researcher and Urban Planner who wrote the brief. “Almost 20 percent of all Vancouver public elementary schools lost more than 20 percent of their students over the last 5 school years”.

More here.

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