The Market

In NYC, trees tell the story of wealth disparity

By BrickUnderground  | April 13, 2015 - 11:45AM

How to trace the pattern of wealth disparity in this city—besides the widening chasm between super-luxury condos and the rest of the market, that is? Look for the trees. Or rather, for how many trees there are in your neighborhood. The Atlantic's CityLab shared findings of a study published in the journal PLOS One that found that in New York City, and in a handful of other cities (including Philadelphia and Baltimore), tree cover correlated with neighborhood income. In other words, the richer the area, the more trees there are and the denser the foliage. 

Researchers note the rise of programs that aim to plant more trees in neighborhoods, including the NYC Parks Department's Million Trees initiative. As of this writing, the city's close to that million mark, logging 949,361 so far. Whether that addresses the issue of expanding income gap in general is a whole other, more complicated issue, of course.

You can look up your building on AddressReport (a Brick sponsor) to compare tree cover on your Manhattan block to the borough average.

Interestingly, a survey by Harvard University's Kennedy School on Media, Politics and Public Policy's shows a study that found "on average, individuals have both lower mental distress and higher well being when living in urban areas with more green space. Although effects at the individual level were small, the potential cumulative benefit at the community level highlights the importance of policies to protect and promote urban green spaces for well-being.”


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