April 1, 2014
Streets, Avenues and Roads, Oh My! Visualizing NYC Street Suffixes

It’s well known that in Manhattan,  the Avenues go north-south and the Streets go east-west. But what about the Roads, Places, and Drives? And what about in other boroughs?

These questions got me thinking about spatial layout and the use of these street suffixes.   So I decided to explore how each borough’s street suffixes are distributed.  

First, I took the subset of streets that have one of the suffixes of “Street”, “Road”, “Place”, “Terrace”, “Court”, “Avenue”, “Lane” or “Drive”.  From that subset, I looked at the percentage breakdown in each borough:


We see that Manhattan is made up of mostly streets, while Staten Island has a relatively small percentage of streets.  The Bronx has the most avenues proportionally, and Queens had the most roads. Staten Island has the lagest percentage of lanes and courts, which might go along with its suburban layout.

We can look at the same data, but with raw counts instead of percentages: 


We can also split the data by street type.  There are more avenues (and more streets in general) in Staten Island than any other borough. 


Next, I decided to map out the city by color coding these streets.  

photo Composer_1_zps7d42cdc0.jpg

From this far out view, many things stand out.  First, Staten Island is definitely a patch work of road names.  Next, parts of the Bronx are made up almost entirely of Avenues.  But zooming on these area can show some more patterns:ManhattanBronxQueens photo Composer_1_zpsd21ebe12.jpg

The map clearly shows the avenues ending in Southern Manhattan, the east west trajectory of Avenues in Queens. 

The next map of Brooklyn shows a stripe of place streets. 

Brooklyn photo Composer_1_zps7d3a3198.jpg

And as mentioned before, Staten Island is quite the patchwork:

photo Composer_1_zps91aaac64.jpg

Interestingly, these maps provide a novel way to show how the city was planned in different sections. Outside of Manhattan, the different naming conventions seem to always be at different angles from one another, which probably indicates separate developments.  That also explains why Staten Island is the most patch-worked.  And it shows why Manhattan is the most standardized.  It is easy to see where the commissioner’s plan kicked in to create the grid.

Charts Created in QGIS.
Data from NYCOpenData here and here.
Analysis done in IPython/Excel

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  1. rock-tumblr reblogged this from iquantny
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  6. luopan reblogged this from iquantny and added:
    When you say “Number of streets” do you mean “Number of unique street names,” or “Number of street segments?”
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