Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

America’s Most “Godless” Cities?

The American Bible Society does an annual survey related to what they call “bible mindedness.” The latest results were just released and I was surprised at the amount of media airplay it got, including sites like Time Magazine and Likecool. But perhaps it should be easy to see as this is the type of analysis that can appeal regardless of where you stand on God.

But I found their results and methodology questionable in terms of supporting the conclusions the media drew from it. Here’s the chart (click to enlarge):

Time called this a list of “the most godless cities in America” but in fact it is nothing of the sort. The survey measures instead “bible mindedness,” which they measure using frequency of reading it and a degree of belief in its accuracy. In order to be considered “bible minded” you have to have read the bible within the last seven days and strongly agree that it’s accurate.

This immediately raised a caution flag to me. Obviously it is Christian oriented (though the question set is designed to capture Jewish scripture reading). But the bible minded definition is clearly Protestant-centric. Perhaps I generalize, but historically even devout Catholics tended not to read the bible regularly. My Italian grandfather may have been the most devout Catholic I ever met. Until his very old age he went to mass every single day, said the rosary three times a day, and other things like that. But I never once saw him read a bible.

So we shouldn’t be surprised that the least bible minded metro in America in this survey is Providence, because Rhode Island is either the first or second most Catholic state in America, depending on the survey you use. Whereas the most bible minded city, Chattanooga, is in the least Catholic state. (See this HuffPo piece for some stats. Pew says Rhode Island is 43% Catholic, though how many are practicing is another question).

Practicing Catholics believe in the bible, but don’t generally interact with the text in the same way Protestants do. As a result, surveys that focus heavily on personal bible reading shouldn’t be used as a proxy for Christian religiosity in general, hence most of the conclusions that have been drawn from it are likely wrong.

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Infographics: Metropolitan Populations and Income

Here’s one that’s been making the rounds. A site called Peakbagger put together this chart showing historical metropolitan area population ranks for the top 20 metros (click to enlarge):

This clearly shows the relative stability of the top of the top of the hierarchy vs. ranks further down.

The Census Bureau has an interesting interactive graphics tool called Islands of High Income. I was playing with it and set the slider as close to the median income as I could. Here are the counties that exceed it:

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Infographic: Chicago’s Racial Demographics

The Huffington Post pointed me at this graphic below, which shows how the racial makeup of Chicago’s community areas changed between 1910 and 2000. It was apparently created by something called the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Chicago Area Geographic Information Study. The graphic speaks for itself.

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Founder Mobility

Kate Maxwell and Sam Arbesman at the Kauffman Foundation are out with a new study the measures the mobility of founders of high growth companies (those on the Inc. 500 list). Using network mapping software, they took a few cuts at determining mobility groupings, and here was an interesting graphic that popped out. The colors on the map are basically communities as defined by migration between the components:

This is an interesting study. I suggest at least checking out Richard Florida’s review of it over at Atlantic Cities.

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

How Many Governments?

The Census Bureau recently released its 2012 Census of Governments. Apparently there are 89,004 local governments in the United States. As he’s done before, the inestimable Chris Briem put together a word cloud of what those look like, sized by number of employees. Here’s the preview, but you can click through for a large PDF (51 MB) with the full zoom capabilities that just might test your system processing power.

Here’s a Census Bureau thematic map of the number of number of governments by state and county:

As always, Illinois takes the #1 position for the most total governments. Whet Moser has the gory details over at Chicago Magazine in The Land of 7,000 Governments.

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Infographics: The Decongestion of Manhattan, New York Walking Commutes

Jim Russell pointed me at an interesting article about densification vs. de-densification over at the Urbanization Project at NYU Stern. It contains this very interesting map of the change in census tract densities in Manhattan over the century between 1910 and 2010:

Walking Related Commutes

Streetsblog, in an article covering the annual NYC DOT scorecard, included this graphic of the percentage of commutes that include walking as a core component (e.g, transit) in various parts of New York:

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Infographic: Corporate Headquarters

In a piece called “Cities With the Most Corporate Clout,” Richard Florida included this interesting map of Fortune 500 headquarters per capita:

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Infographics: High Tech, Melting Pot Cities, Church vs. Beer

There a couple good infographics recently over at Atlantic Cities I wanted to highlight. The first is a map of America’s leading high tech metros. There’s a table and commentary in Richard Florida’s accompanying analysis article you should check out.

The strength of Detroit in the Midwest really stood out to me.

Melting Pot Cities

They had another great article on America’s melting pot cities that included this map of naturalized citizens per capita in metro areas:

The east and west coast are clearly dominant here.

Church vs. Beer

And the always entertaining site Floating Sheep posted this map of church vs. beer mentions on Twitter:

What I found most interesting here was the predominance of metropolitan counties in church mentions in a lot of the country vs. their rural hinterland.

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Infographic: Sprawl Is Alive and Well

The Atlantic Cities had an article talking about how the housing crash may not have been a game changer in terms of exurban development pattern. It’s worth a read. It also includes this map from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard showing various degrees of suburbanization by metros over the past decade. Not that only a few places showed core population share gain.

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Infographics of the Week: Underwater Mortgages, NYC Tech

Home prices web site Zillow is out with an interactive map showing the percentage of of the mortgages in America that are believed to be underwater. It’s pretty scary. Here’s a static version:

h/t Atlantic Cities

NYC Tech

Mashable ran a recent article noting that New York City is now America’s fastest growing tech hub that included this infographic:

Richard Florida also chimed in with a follow-up on New York’s tech scene.

The Urban State of Mind: Meditations on the City is the first Urbanophile e-book, featuring provocative essays on the key issues facing our cities, including innovation, talent attraction and brain drain, global soft power, sustainability, economic development, and localism. Included are 28 carefully curated essays out of nearly 1,200 posts in the first seven years of the Urbanophile, plus 9 original pieces. It's great for anyone who cares about our cities.

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Aaron M. Renn is an opinion-leading urban analyst, consultant, speaker, and writer on a mission to help America’s cities thrive and find sustainable success in the 21st century.

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