Month: November 2013

Access in Chicago’s West Loop

The maps on my previous post showed that Google’s future Chicago location (1000 W. Fulton St) does not offer better transit access than its current location (20 W Kinzie St), a fact that brings into question claims about the firm relocating to be near a newly opened transit station in the West Loop. Perhaps, though, the new location has neighborhood amenities or pedestrian assets that make it more transit-friendly. If so, my analysis based on how far you could travel using transit would be less relevant for debunking claims that Google relocated to take advantage of transit. It’s been over two years since I lived in Chicago, but in my time the West Loop area of Google’s future home was anything but a pedestrian, transit-oriented enclave, although it was a neighborhood in transition. Seeking alternative data sources to investigate the neighborhood from afar, I found WalkScore.com.

WalkScore is a real estate promotion website that (according to its Wikipedia page), uses a “large-scale, public access walkability index that assigns a numerical walkability score to any address in the United States, Canada, and Australia.” For my quick and dirty analysis needs, it is a perfect resource. Putting Google’s two locations into the online calculator produced the following scores for each location:

WalkScore

This metric confirms the conclusion supported by the Mapnificent analysis: Google is not relocating their office to a more transit friendly area in Chicago. Indeed, its new West Loop location fares less well than its current location on walkability, transit access and bike amenities. I’d love to believe that building transit will solve our urban development needs but the data (in this brief study and elsewhere) just doesn’t support such simplistic solutions.

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