Choose where you’d like to focus your research this semester. You’ll choose two neighborhoods that are near each other, that you are able to either research online and/or visit in-person. I expect you to pick two neighborhoods that differ in income inequality, whether they are in NYC or elsewhere. Here is a list of neighborhoods in NYC and their rate of poverty. I’ve highlighted some higher poverty areas and lower poverty areas within each borough, but these are only suggestions. This semester, you are going to consider many characteristics of these two neighborhoods and answer: is it a Tale of Two Cities?
Throughout the semester, you are going to be assessing whether we (or you) live in a Tale of Two Cities. First, you will choose two neighborhoods near where you live (or work), that you would like to be the focus of your study.
Each module, you will evaluate information about those neighborhoods on the characteristics we study — income, wealth, housing, education, health and the environment, and political inequality.
For this first assignment, it is mostly a thinking exercise — where would you like to study? The entire project can be done entirely from home, if you are unable to leave your home, but if possible I’ll encourage you to visit the neighborhoods as part of your research. I’ll explain more about all of those options in the next unit, and there is no need to visit or do any research just yet.
I expect you to pick two neighborhoods that differ in income inequality, whether they are in NYC or elsewhere. Here is a list of neighborhoods in NYC and their rate of poverty. (After considering many measures of inequality, I think this one is the best for our purposes.)
Take, for instance, the Upper East Side, where some of the wealthiest people live, and Spanish Harlem, where it is lower income, but it is far from the poorest neighborhood in NYC. These two places are close in proximity to each other so provide a good comparison.
I’ve highlighted some higher poverty areas and lower poverty areas within each borough, but these are only suggestions. You may choose the places, as long as they are close to each other. If you do not live in the five boroughs, you should choose somewhere near you — there is inequality everywhere. You do not need to have exact poverty rates, etc., if you are not in NYC. You might even choose stereotypical “fancy part of town” and “across the tracks” without having numerical data yet. (You will learn why there are neighborhoods “across the tracks” in a few weeks!)
This assignment will essentially serve as your “introduction” section of your project, introducing the neighborhoods and why you chose them. You are welcome to describe them in graphic detail, to argue that they are stereotypes, to include photographs — whatever. This week is an exercise in creative writing. Be creative. You are welcome but not required to cite anything in this introduction from Dickens, De Blasio, or any of the other lectures or readings that speaks to you.
Again, at the end of the semester reviewing all of the data you have collected, you are going to consider many characteristics of these two neighborhoods and answer: is it a Tale of Two Cities? There is no “right” answer to the question, but whatever your answer, you are expected to back it up with the data you find.
Please write 200-275 words for this assignment.
Good luck! I’m excited to see where you decide to study and to read your papers.
Below you can see the rubric to see how this essay is graded.
– Spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, organization, and style are worth two points.
– Correct length is worth one point.
– Choosing two neighborhoods in close proximity to each other is worth one point.
– Connecting this essay to the topic of the course, inequality, is worth one point.