Quantifying Urban Diversity: Multiple Spatial Measures of Physical, Social, and Economic Characteristics

  • Timothy Rosner
  • Kevin M. CurtinEmail author
Part of the Geotechnologies and the Environment book series (GEOTECH, volume 13)


With long-standing trends of rural-to-urban migration, and resultant increasing urban growth, the role the built environment plays in creating a livable urban space will only increase in importance. This research examines Jane Jacobs’ four generators of urban diversity, as presented in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and attempts to quantify those concepts in a meaningful way. This chapter presents a methodology for assessing each of the four generators – dwelling density, block length, mix of building age, and mix of uses – as well as a new composite Urban Livability Index that combines all four generators. The resultant values are examined with measures of spatial autocorrelation to determine areas within a city that could benefit from investment in one or more parameters of livability. The methods presented here are intended to create a framework that may be applied to any city in order to assess the built environment and provide useful information to city planners and policy-makers. The District of Columbia is used as a case study for the application and testing of this methodology.


Urban geography Diversity Livability Jane Jacobs Geographic information analysis 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rails-to-Trails ConservancyWashington, DCUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geography and GeoInformation ScienceGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA

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