Residential Area and Neighborhood

Images and Values
  • Tridib Banerjee
  • William C. Baer
Part of the Environment, Development, and Public Policy: Environmental Policy and Planning book series (EDPE)


The previous chapter focused on verbalized concepts and evaluations of, and preferences for the residential environment. Although verbal methods of expression lend themselves to many aspects of description and evaluation, they are less effective in describing the relationships of objects in space. Yet, such relationships are the core of any environmental design construct. To tap these aspects of the residential environment, we focus in this chapter on the physical-spatial characteristics of the residential settings by examining people’s image of their residential area, as portrayed on the maps that we asked them to draw.


Residential Area Public Facility Shopping Center Collective Image Residential Environment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 1.
    For a definition of the term action space, see Wolpert (1965) and Horton and Reynolds (1971).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Webber (1964) argued that the importance of place and the local community diminishes with increasing income and education. The upwardly mobile professional class are likely to belong to many different “realms” based on their professional and class ties, the least likely being a “place”-bound realm. Webber conceded however, that among the lower-income groups, the local community and the place may still play an important role in friendship formation and as a focus of social interaction.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    The concept of home area has been discussed by Everitt and Cadwallader (1972) and is defined as “an area of importance of significance around the home—that might be comparable from person to person. Thus the home area of an individual is the area around his house in which he feels most at home” (p. 1-2-2).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    The order to prepare the “collective image” of an area, we kept a simple tally of the various items (both labeled and unlabelled) shown in the maps. The items shown in the individual maps were coded into the following categories: streets, highways, and freeways; public facilities (e.g., police stations, fire stations, and post offices); private facilities (e.g., drugstores, supermarkets, and gas stations); natural amenities (e.g., beaches, mountains, and rivers); and districts (e.g., place names, campuses, “residential,” and “business district”). The “composite” residential area maps for each locality were prepared by transferring the items mentioned in the maps drawn by the respondents to an overlay of a standard street map, and then by graphically differentiating the frequencies with which they were mentioned.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    See Question 11, Appendix I.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    With the exception of Long Beach, all low-income area maps had, on the average, less than eleven items per map, whereas the others had thirteen or more.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    It may also reflect a fundamental lack of enthusiasm on the part of the low-income respondents in drawing these maps. Because this possibility cannot be ruled out, any inference about the role of the objective environmental conditions or the residents’ attitude toward the place can be made only with caution.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    The radius of a map was computed by redrawing the map (as well as it could be interpreted) on a tracing-paper overlay over a standard street map drawn to scale. Once the streets shown in the original were outlined in the overlay, a circle was drawn to circumscribe the entire map. The radius of this circumscribing circle is the measure referred to as the radius of the residential area maps. The unit of measure was one mile.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Consider, for example, the difference between the maps drawn by residents of Palos Verdes and those drawn by residents of Pacific Palisades, both upper-income white areas. The average radius of the Pacific Palisades map was one-third that of the Palos Verdes maps. In this case, the difference may very well have arisen from physical differences in the settings. The Pacific Palisades setting is well delineated by a system of highways, streets, canyons, and palisades. Most respondents drew consistent boundaries that delineated an area much smaller than the area that the Palos Verdes respondents drew. In their case, the actual interview area lacked distinctive boundaries, but the larger context of the Palos Verdes peninsula is extremely well-defined because of its encircling coastline, hilly terrain, low-density development, and expensive homes. Additionally, the interview area shared the uniformity and exclusivity of appearance with most of the peninsula that grew out of the strict land-use, density, and architectural controls applied throughout the peninsula. Thus, it is no surprise that the Palos Verdeans projected an expansive concept of the residential area that included the entire peninsula. It is also possible to make a theoretical argument that the size of the residential area may reflect the objective density of the area. To the extent that cognitive maps are shaped by the locus of various residential activities (e.g., shopping for food, taking a walk, and visiting a neighbor), and to the extent that density dictates the spatial concentration of public or private services and facilities, some association can be expected between the residential area density and the size of the cognitive maps.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    To test these relations further, we cross-tabulated the importance of neighborhood living by collapsing the population groups into white and nonwhite categories, and by collapsing the elderly and the families with children into one category. The partial gamma for the association between neighborhood living and population groups (1 = white; 2 = non-white) was-.36 (and-.37 when only the first five groups were taken), when the stage in the family cycle was controlled for. The partial gamma for the association between neighborhood living and the stage in the family cycle (1 = elderly or families with children; 2 = families without children) was.37 (and also.37 when only the first five groups were considered), when the population groups were controlled for.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tridib Banerjee
    • 1
  • William C. Baer
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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