Street View: Visual Survey of Economic Gaps

Houston. Homelessness along Main. It’s an issue that Houston officials rarely address publicly. There were even rumors that the government transported them to other cities.


It feels voyeuristic to look at these people on Google Street View. It’s as if an affluent, hand sanitizer-carrying tourist going on a poverty safari in their Land Rover. You can “see” the opposite side of the socioeconomic spectrum without having to actually go there. But I’ve been there. I’ve talked to the people out on the streets. For a brief period of time, I was even one of the people out on the streets. Using these digital tools are a good way to collect visual data in a short span of time, across different parts of the globe.

pasay manila

Pasay, Manila.

In the “squatter” houses along the river and around wealthy, glitzy Makati, you will see many makeshift abodes.

virginia murals

W. Cary Street Murals / Richmond, Virgina.

While I applaud residents and artists in beautifying the abandoned buildings, and low-income neighborhoods, I wish city officials “beautified” the school systems and economic opportunities as well. Instead of simply gentrifying neighborhoods–which increases economic vitality, but also increases real estate prices as well, and causes long-time residents to be pushed out, whether intended or not–real estate developers who partner with city officials should rebuild neighborhoods where there is more inclusion.


7th Avenue. Borough of Manhattan, New York City.

The “other” side.