Million Dollar Blocks

Since the Ludacris map got so many props, I thought I’d throw up another ArcMap GIS wonder. This one is a little more serious. The Spatial Information Design Lab from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation created what they call “Million Dollar Blocks“. Its simple, take prison expenditure data and overlay that information over a map showing the homes where these prisoners are coming from. You then get a map, block by block, showing the homes of prisoners and the cost it takes to incarcerate them. You end up getting “million dollar blocks”; neighborhoods in Brooklyn that get millions of dollars in investments from the government (through the prison system). Below is a map of Brooklyn showing the concentration of the prisoners’ neighborhoods and the amount invested through prison expenditures:

The lighter the red, the more $ invested per prisoner, based on their home residences.

Why is this map genius? For one, its easy as hell to make. The only inputs are a home address (down to the Census block or tract, which anyone can do with a computer, access to, and uhhh, access to prison records) and how much in government dollar is invested on each prisoner. Second, this map, on the surface, is just a map showing the homes of prisoners, right? No, its a freaking map on where to invest in community empowerment and development programs. After-school programs, midnight basketball leagues, job placement programs, street beautification, etc. This map is so damn detailed, it goes down into detail, block by block in Brooklyn, of how much money is invested in a neighborhood:

This Lab is sick. Check out their other maps here, including one on Buzz in NYC (using GPS data from Getty Images’ photographs from fashion photographers) and one on worldwide migration using a video map.

Thanks Will, for this and the Luda map as well.


One thought on “Million Dollar Blocks

  1. As a Brooklynite who lives in this borough, I cannot offer BCB an unbiased opinion about this map. However, I will say that the website offers no information about the locations of the prisoners’ residences, a majority of those being housing projects and apartments.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that projects account for the “million dollar blocks.” If fact, many maps that a researcher or cartographer could make out of NYC would show something similar to this map but with a different pattern. All I can say to that is “Welcome to New York City.”


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