Desirability of a Suburb Assignment


Research question: How desirable is this suburb?

The suburbs are…

1. Milford
2. Orange
3. West Haven
4. Woodbridge
5. Cheshire
6. Hamden
7. North Haven
8. East Haven
9. Branford
10. Guilford
11. Madison

In constructing your analysis, collect quantitative and qualitative data on the following areas. You can use the categories below both for collecting your data and also for structuring your write-up.
Also consider how you will write up all of this information in a way that is narratively interesting to your reader. Are there any residential/school/retail stories or controversies you can identify that illuminate a characteristic of your suburb?

You will be posting this assignment on our class website:
It is due

Patterns of residence
1. Fill in census data on your town using the shared class spreadsheet: and the Census website

2. How does the town compare to data of New Haven and surrounding suburbs?

3. Use social to look at diversity within the town and over time via census tract (listings on the next page). Is this suburb racially homogeneous or is it fragmented? Look at the unemployment statistics – is the town economically homogeneous, or is it fragmented?

4. Using, have the town’s racial or economic demographics changed since 2000, 1990? Have populations moved around by census tract? Consider exporting maps for use in your report. (You can’t alter the maps on social explorer, but Julia Burokowski came up with an ingenious workaround to trace town boundaries using Paint.)

Housing stock & value
5. What is the housing stock like? Consider median house price, type of housing available, quality of housing, type of suburban development, size of lots (consider Cohen). Go on and look for cheapest and most expensive houses for sale, 2 bedroom houses/apts. for rent. Are there few houses for sale, lots of houses for sale? What might this indicate?

6. Are there any controversies you can find online about the town’s zoning, building of affordable housing, etc. (for eg. look up information on the “Wall” between Hamden and New Haven)

Economic state of the suburb
7. Using Owens (2012), assess the economic state of your selected suburb. Is its economy ascending?

8. Via online searching (yelp, google maps) what is the retail of this suburb like (upscale, discount, etc)? Are there any famous businesses located there?

9. (In class 2/9) Using Elsi (, follow the class tutorial on the website, calculate the 5, 10, 15, and 20 year racial and income changes in your suburban town’s schools.

When you have completed this, you will be able to discuss the racial and SES (socio-economic) changes in district schools and around the district overall, plus you can discuss the homogeneity or heterogeneity of district schools.

10. How much do the racial and socioeconomic demographics of the school population reflect that of the broader town?

11. (In class 2/16) we will do point data mapping of these results using google maps – use the tutorial here.

12. How did your town’s schools compare in test results to the state? (very nice visualizations you can use here! Try selecting 2 grades like Grade 6 and 10)

13. Check out graduation rates in your district:

14. You can see what additional data is available on the State’s Cedar portal ( It’s an old system that they are supposed to update soon….

15. Also check the high school websites – is it visually appealing? Does it specify special programs? How many AP courses available? Do the middle school and high school show evidence of tracking?

Reputation of the town/suburb
16. Consider news reports in the New Haven Register and New Haven independent. Is this suburb often in the news, how is it reported about?

17. Look at the ranked map of schools in your town on (select map on right).

18. How do parents/students/teachers in the town talk about the community schools in anonymous online forums like (one sample comment “this school is alright…they just have to stop letting people come in from new haven”)

Census Tracts for towns in New Haven county

  • Milford 1501-1512
  • Orange 1571-74
  • West Haven
  • Woodbridge 1601-02
  • Hamden 1651-1660
  • North Haven 1671-1673
  • Cheshire 3431-3434
  • East Haven 1801-1806
  • Branford 1841-47
  • North Branford 1861-62
  • Guilford 1901-1903
  • Madison 1941-42

Northern suburbs census tracts map

South west suburbs census tracts map

South East suburbs census tracts map

Evaluation criteria: (out of 5 for each category)

Argument: Do the authors make clear & insightful arguments, relevant to the research question? Does the essay make you think about this topic in a new way?

– Evidence & Interpretation: Are the arguments supported with persuasive qualitative and quantitative evidence and interpretation?

– Quality of visual evidence: Do the authors present useful visual evidence (maps, charts, etc) that add to the evidence and are well integrated in the text?

– Structure and format: Is the report clearly organized, with transitions? Do the authors use ASA, APA or MLA formatting consistently?

– Conventions, style and narrative pull: Is the report interesting to read, and does it move the reader beyond a dry summary of facts and figures? Have you proofread carefully? Is your sentence structure varied, representing a unique style?