Urban Ecology, Paris-New York edition

January 25, 2012
Posted by Jay Livingston

It was the sociologists in Chicago, not Paris or New York,  who gave us the notion of “natural areas” in cities.  Park and Burgess had a general model of ecological zones  – the concentric circles radiating from the city center.  Within these circles there might be more specialized niches – cultural enclaves whose distribution isn’t quite so predictable or consistent. 

Here are the niches of New York mapped onto the map of Paris.  The idea of the map is to point out the cultural similarities – Greenwich Village is like St. Germain, Williamsburg is like Buttes Chaumont (how do you say hipster in French?).

Geographically, there are some big differences.  In the cultural geography of Paris, Morningside Heights is far from Columbia University, and Astoria is next to Dumbo.  Not on the real NYC map. 

But it’s interesting how often adjoining areas in the real NYC are still close together when mapped culturally onto Paris.

(This jpeg is the version I copied (thanks to a tip from the the redoubtable Polly-Vous Français) from the FB page of Richard Thierry, where it has gotten a ton of comments.  My apologies for the small print that becomes illegible when you enlarge the image.  I couldn’t find a better version.)

UPDATE:  For more on this map, see the next day's post (here)


Anonymous said...

I understand that this likely just an intellectual exercise, but I am wondering why (substantively) placing a map of New York on Paris matters?

European and American cities have very different spatial organization that any comparison between these cities that reveal some "similarities" are but a coincidence.

Baptiste said...

You'll find the reverse comparison here
(Paris "quartiers" superimposed on New York City)