The Scales of Income Walking Tour
December 19, 2011
If you live in New York City, you may be familiar with the city health department’s campaign against soda, which—along with graphic images of bodily fat pouring out of soda bottles sure to discourage any eating on subway trains—has produced a cropped map of Manhattan with a yellow line plotting the 3-mile distance one needs to traverse between Central Park and Yankee Stadium to burn off the calories from an average 20 oz. soda.
The spatial homogeneity of gridded Manhattan and a widely shared familiarity with its geography have made the island a valuable scaling tool. One of the latest graphics using Manhattan’s layout to understand less observable distances was spotted on Brainpickings this morning: Kelli Anderson’s “Scales of Income Walking Tour.” Considering the Occupy movement as a physical occupation that has unfolded in space, Anderson converts annual income into physical distances on the Manhattan map, specifically equating $20k/year to one mile on the walking tour.
The average income of $54k/year, also known lovingly as the 99%, occupies none other than the latitude of Zucotti Park. Seen in this way, climbing up metaphorical Manhattan to the domain of the 1% ($506k/year) would mean traveling from Zucotti Park all the way to Pelham Park, which already exceeds the visible scope of the map. To find your way to the 0.01% ($27.3M/year) would require some serious traveling, putting you all the way up on Prince Edward Island in Canada. Meanwhile, the bottom half of all US households, which earn an average of $15k/year, can be found near Brooklyn’s Red Hook Ball Fields, where even some taxis won’t take you.
The scales of income map can be found gracing the cover of the third and final issue of Occupy!, a print gazette revolving around the development of OWS produced by literary and cultural magazine n+1. All royalties from the publication are donated to OWS, so pick up a copy here!