Re-Imagining Iconic U.S. Skylines Based On Wealth Inequality

This is what Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Miami would look like if their skylines were defined by net worth.


Intense wealth inequality in America only grew during the recession and recovery. And while the difference between the 1% and the rest of us might not always be reflected in the built environment, it’s lingering in data all around us. We saw this illustrated by Nikolay Lamm’s Wealth Inequality Project, in which he re-grew Manhattan’s skyline to reflect the city’s stark differences in net worth. Now, he’s expanded the project to include Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Miami.


“After I created the New York City Inequality project I looked at the maps of net worth some more and found that inequality is not just potent in New York City, but in cities throughout the United States,” Lamm says.

Guided by Census data that measured median net worth by block, Lamm linked each $100,000 to an equivalent of a centimeter on the maps. If you want to dig through that data, but don’t live in one of the cities Lamm profiled, you can access your own neighborhood’s 2012 stats here.

Check out the differences below:


Between 2009 and 2011, the top 10% of Bostonians made as much income as the lowest 75% combined, Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies found.



Median net worth at the edges of Chicago’s south side hover just above $10,000. Move over less than a mile to the southeast, and net worth jumps to $500,001 when you hit certain parts of the suburbs.

Los Angeles

The University of Redlands’ Institute for Spatial Analysis found that four Los Angeles ZIP codes made the list of top 20 most unequal neighborhoods in the United States.

San Francisco

A city in the process of being reshaped by new tech wealth, median net worth drops more than $200,000 when you first cross the Bay Bridge from Rincon Hill.



In 2012, Miami-Dade County ranked second in a Census Bureau list of counties with the highest levels of income inequality in the United States.

About the author

Sydney Brownstone is a Seattle-based former staff writer at Co.Exist. She lives in a Brooklyn apartment with windows that don’t quite open, and covers environment, health, and data