April 17, 2014
Half of Manhattan is Within 4 Blocks of a Starbucks

When I was in grad school at NYU, there were two Starbucks across the street from one another at Astor Place.  Like many things in New York, one of them is now a condo.  But that change does not signal a decline in the mighty Starbucks empire.  It seems no matter where you turn, you see that green mermaid in the logo looking back at you.

But what if you really wanted to get away from a Starbucks?  Like really far away.  How far could you get but still be within Manhattan.  

To find out, I calculated the distance from each lot in Manhattan to the nearest Starbucks and mapped it out:

photo Starb_zps930d1597.jpg

The red star on the map indicated the address that is farthest from a Starbucks.  The lucky winner is a residential building at 73 Payson Avenue in Inwood.  I wonder if the people who live there know that they are as far from Starbucks as they can possibly be in Manhattan.  (I’d bet not.) And that distance?  A whopping 1.36 miles.

The blue star is the farthest residential address from Starbucks south of 96th St. That happens at 140 Baruch Place on the Lower East Side.  It is 0.93 miles from the nearest Starbucks. 

One other things pops out when doing this.  Note that the map is split into 5 quantiles, meaning 20% of lots fall in each color bucket. What is astounding is that 20% of lots in Manhattan are within 0.1 miles of a Starbucks or just two city blocks.  Those lots are the darkest green lots in the map.  And half of all lots are within 0.2 miles, or four blocks. 

So if you’re looking to get a bit of distance between you and that mermaid, I’ve got some advice for you:  cross a bridge.

Note that blocks here are not literal blocks you can walk, but rather a unit of measurement for comparison purposes. All measurements are as the pigeon flies.

Data used: 
PLUTO
Google Places API

Tools used: 
QGIS, IPython, pandas

Editors Note:  A commenter on Reddit pointed out that they just opened up a Starbucks two blocks from the “Red Star.”  I guess I know how they chose the spot.   It looks like it has not made it into Google yet, which is where I got my data.  So this analysis is a few months out-of-date.  Thanks internet!  

12:23am
  
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