You might have noticed that there are poor, rich, and middle class neighborhoods in just about every town.  Sociologists call this residential segregation.  Residential segregation is a problem, in part, because it can create a situation in which some neighborhoods have more social and other services than others.  Sociologists have found, for example, that richer neighborhoods tend to have more grocery stores, better sidewalks, and more fire protection.

So, when Jessica Sherwood, of Sociologists for Women in Society, sent us a map showing the density of playgrounds in New York City, I immediately thought to correlate it with average income.

Playground map (darker pink = more playgrounds):

play

Map of median household income (yellow = more income, blue = less):

Picture1

UPDATE:  Awesomely, Reader Mark Root-Wiley overlaid the two maps and sent it along!  Here it is:

nycPlaygroundOverlay

It looks to me that playground density is highest in the poorest neighborhoods.  A very unusual finding!

So, what factors do you think might account for the disproportionate number of playgrounds in low income areas?  Speculate away!

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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