Friday, March 23, 2018

Fremont - More Money Than Sense


You can tell a lot about a neighborhood by the types of businesses and stores it attracts. For example, a lot has been written (mostly by me) about how you can determine which neighborhoods are becoming gentrified by the ratio of coffee shops to fried chicken restaurants in an area.

But why only look at coffee shops and fried chicken restaurants? Perhaps the proliferation of other types of businesses and stores could tell us more about the unique characteristics of different neighborhoods. For example, if a neighborhood was dominated by stores offering massage therapy, acupuncture, naturopathic medicine and skincare, what might that tell us about a neighborhood?

It might tell us that the residents of Fremont, Seattle have more money than sense (or if you are Amber Thomas that the neighborhood is 'artistic and entertaining'). But I digress ...

The Pudding has published a great story map exploring the most unique businesses in Seattle and New York neighborhoods. In A Tale of Two Cities Amber Thomas and Ilia Blinderman have mapped out the businesses which are found more distinctly in a neighborhood than in the city as a whole. This 'uniqueness' is determined by comparing the ratio of businesses in each neighborhood to their ratio in the city as a whole.

As you progress through the story map you can explore which businesses are most unique to different neighborhoods in both Seattle and New York. Anyone who knows either city reasonably well will probably quickly recognize that the distinct characteristics of some of the featured neighborhoods are definitely reflected by the types of unique stores and businesses which flourish within their borders.

The method definitely seems to have merit. I can also see how it might be applied by different web services. For example, real estate websites could use this 'over-index' to list the top 5 unique businesses found in each neighborhood to give customers an insight into the characteristics of different neighborhoods.
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