"Naturehoods": Nature at the neighborhood scale in 34 large U.S. cities

Nature takes several forms in cities: from parks and open space areas designated for recreational uses, to natural areas conserved as environmental resources, to the tree canopy of streetscapes we experience as a backdrop to everyday activities.

The quantity and quality of each of these is not uniform within or across cities. This Naturehoods application explores this variation to characterize how residents might experience nature differently at the neighborhood scale. Our rationale and methods are explained in this short essay.

Trust for Public Land ParkScore® index

We can evaluate the state of urban nature at various scales. Often we measure park area and count facilities within city limits or greater metropolitan areas; there have been many studies of residents' access to parks. This project examines nature at the neighborhood level.

For example, San Francisco as a whole is relatively "park-rich" (21% of city area) and Louisville is not (1.5%).

As the city and neighborhood-scale maps show, however, the distribution of parks is not uniform in these cities. So, access to parks and open space within cities varies considerably...

Urban nature and demographic variables at the neighborhood scale

Nature measures (background)

Demographics (markers)

To examine individual neighborhoods more closely, try the Naturehood Explorer app!


What sets of neighborhoods across 34 large U.S. cities are similar in terms of 'naturalness' and social variables? This parallel coordinates visualization plots 2661 of the study's neighborhoods on 11 dimensions [explained].

To visually explore possible correlations--in effect creating Frankencities--select areas of one or more dimensions by dragging selection windows over them as shown below. Selection windows themselves can be dragged also.

For example, neighborhoods with the lowest average home value. Or the highest percentage of ownership.

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