Neighbors in name only

ArticleA new interactive shows inequalities across borders in Massachusetts

Garrett Dash Nelson
May 13, 2021
186 words

What’s the best way to visualize how neighboring cities and towns can sometimes have dramatically different demographic patterns?

Writing in CommonWealth magazine, I discuss the history of municipal inequality in Massachusetts through a data visualization that puts neighboring town in direct comparison to one another.

An overall map of the state can be useful for visualizing broad regional trends, like how Western Massachusetts is different from metro Boston, or how the 128 suburbs compare to the 495 suburbs. But with so many colors and symbols, a statewide map can actually be poorly suited for making specific observations about the differences between neighboring towns. These kinds of neighbor-to-neighbor comparisons—which highlight how things change when you jump from one side of a town line to another—oftentimes dramatically illustrate just how much geography plays a role in patterns of inequality.

Read the entire article at CommonWealth, or explore the Neighbors in Name Only data visualization below.