Visualize A Map Of SF If Its Density Matched That Of Other Major Cities: SFist
In the constantly simmering debate over how dense San Francisco ought to be and at what exact density it loses its soul or whatever, a recent visual might help us compare our population density to other cities across the world in a novel way. The takeaway from the chart below is the usual — we’re denser than Houston, but not as dense as Mumbai — but the images might present a clearer way for the eye to recognize that fact.
San Francisco’s overall population density of 18,440 people per square mile really varies a great deal by neighborhood — I’m looking at you, Western ‘hoods — and that’s even more the case in sprawling US cities like Los Angeles. But the visualization from Austin-based storage unit listing site SpareFoot is just based on city limits, so it loses neighborhood nuance.
Oh well. Instead, it simply takes population density as defined by whole cities, and imagines how much the square milage of San Francisco would need to stretch or shrink to accommodate the same total city populace of 864,816 people at the density of a different city. If SF were packed in like Mumbai, for instance, you’d only need some of the room we’ve actually got. But if San Franciscans arranged themselves according to the population density of Anchorage, Alaska, we’d need to spread out drastically.
This is an interesting experiment, for sure, but there’s one dimension that’s notably absent. You can spread most cities outward, expand their limits, but not ours: We’re bound by the ocean on three sides. There’s just one direction SF can grow, if it’s growth we want, and that’s up. How about, for the next visualization, a representation of how much we would have to stretch our buildings skyward up or shrink them down to match the population density of other cities?