Branching Out Across New York

“Branching Out Across New York”

Team members:
Helen Bailey
Margaret Sands
Marc Esposito Gomez
Maddie Pelz

The data say that the number of trees, as well as the most common species of trees, differ across NYC’s five boroughs. These differences create very different landscapes that can impact the experience of each neighborhood. We want to tell this story because the more people know about the trees that make up their neighborhood landscape, the more invested they might be in appreciating or even becoming actively involved in taking care of the trees that surround them.

Our data source was the 2015 NYC tree census, which provided information about the number and species of each tree, as well as additional information about their health. We think that by showing the proportion of trees that are within each borough as well as dividing them by their most common species, people will be able to compare the landscapes of each borough. While this example infographic focuses on the borough of Manhattan, there will be a series of posters produced each with a focus on a single borough. The poster focusing on a certain borough will be displayed on bus stops and buildings around that borough, providing a point of comparison to the borough where the person is reading the poster with others around the city. The inclusion of images of leaves from the most common tree species in each borough invites interactivity of a sort of scavenger hunt to identify each species as they explore the borough. The additional facts about trees found in the highlighted borough also makes it fun to see the poster when you visit different areas, because each contains unique information relevant to your current location.

To illustrate the proportions of trees in each borough as well as the divisions of those trees into each borough’s top species, we utilized a tree map (pun only half-intended). This allows for both levels of analysis (between as well as within boroughs) to be observed in one visualization. In addition to this plot, rather than just listing the top species in each borough, an image of each of the top three tree’s leaves are shown extending from each branch. This visual representation adds additional information about the trees and how one might identify them while exploring each borough’s landscape. Over the course of the project we also identified the top issues that the trees in each borough face, but ultimately decided that the message and intended interaction with the infographic would be clearer if we limited it to a comparison story of tree landscape across the five boroughs.