AKA Abraham Bacoln

7th ward, y’heard
January 26, 2009, 11:24 am
Filed under: tidbit

We had some visitors over the weekend, which was a lot of fun. One of our discussions veered towards why New Orleanians are so neighborhood-oriented, even going so far as to take pride in which ward they’re from. We talked about the phenomenon with our guests but I had no underlying explanation for the why of it all.

Then this morning the following article was brought to my attention:
Rats and City Planning?
which contains the following insight:

Prof. Eilam and Prof. Juval Portugali, a geography researcher, based their study on the fact that rats build cognitive maps to orientate themselves. “We put rats in relatively large areas with objects and routes resembling those in Manhattan,” Prof. Eilam explains. The rats do the same things humans do: They establish a grid system to orientate themselves. Using the grid, the rats covered a vast amount of territory, “seeing the sights” quickly. In contrast, rats in an irregular plan resembling New Orleans’ failed to move far from where they started and didn’t cover much territory, despite travelling the same distances as the “Manhattan rats.”

So apparently the shape of our neighborhoods and the fact that streets disappear and reappear, veer at strange angles, and intersect in ways that would give Euclid a headache really does contribute to our propensity to stay in certain areas that are familiar to us. It’s one of those moments of “duh of course” but it’s nice to see it substantiated by research.

3 Comments so far
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Orientate? Unacceptable.

Comment by Marlboro

I stand corrected.

Comment by Marlboro

San Antonio has a similar “problem.” Most people tend to stick to one area of town and don’t venture forth to the other areas.

Comment by Clay

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