Designer’s visualizations make economic inequality clear

Friday, October 11, 2013

Aerial of New York City

Economic inequality is not hard to see — in Chicago, drive south on Halsted Street from Lakeview to Englewood, or bounce between Oak Park and Austin, or Evanston and Rogers Park — but sometimes it takes a visualization to put it into perspective.

Designer Nickolay Lamm exposed the vast inequities of major U.S. cities by massing their local net worth with 3D green bars of varying heights. If one area had a net worth of $500,000, it was represented by a shape 5 centimeters tall. If one was $250,000, it would be 2.5 cm tall.

In Chicago you can see the North Shore and West suburbs dwarfing west and near south side city neighborhoods. Lay that over this map of racial demographics and it’s not entirely surprising to learn economic segregation often lines up with racial divides.


Pittsburgh-based Lamm did this for several cities, but said New York carries a special symbolism:

I chose to do Manhattan instead of Pittsburgh because I know that, for many people, moving to New York City is the start of their journey to achieve the American Dream. The American Dream suggests that if you work hard enough, you can achieve it. However, it’s clear that the landscape in order to achieve that dream is not as even and equal as it appears on the surface.

 Central Park
Central Park

[H/T Bill Moyers]

2 Responses to “Designer’s visualizations make economic inequality clear”

  1. Valerie Harkness says:

    Wow, now here is some of the most idiotic Progressive Liberal crap I have ever had the misfortune to come across my screen. Life, Liberty, and the PURSUIT of Happiness does in now way say that ANYONE is guaranteed equal financial situations. Your choices, how hard you work, and how you live your life will determine your outcome. Stealing from the successful and hardworking to give to those who didn’t make such good choices is still THEFT. You should be ashamed of yourselves for pushing this drivel on the unsuspecting.

  2. David Altenhofen says:

    Ms. Harkness, please explain what is the liberal “crap” in this article. Do you dispute the data used to generate the maps? I didn’t read anything in the article that made any claims regarding the source of the inequalities or made any suggestions for changing the situation. What made you jump to the conclusion that someone is stealing from the wealthy?

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