Exploring a Neighborhood Like an Engineer

When I moved to Brooklyn in June, I decided that I wanted to get to know my new neighborhood reasonably well, reasonably quickly. Being an engineer, I figured a methodical approach was the best solution, so I got a map and got to work.

Based on a rough understanding of what was where, and letting the nearby Prospect Park somewhat dictate the area I wanted to cover, I drew out a grid with my new home roughly at the center, covering the bulk of the surrounding area that was of interest. The grid looked like this:

Park Slope Grid Walk

  1. Q1: Union St and 3rd Ave to 7th St and 6th Ave
  2. Q2: Union St and 6th Ave to 7th St and Prospect Park West
  3. Q3: 7th St and 6th Ave to 16th St and Prospect Park West
  4. Q4: 7th St and 3rd Ave to 16th St and 6th Ave

With my quadrants mapped out, I embarked upon a mission to grid-walk each quadrant, one per weekend, finding interesting things along the way. Since I knew I’d never remember all of the places I came across, I used foursquare to real-world-bookmark anything that looked interesting so that I could refer back to it later. I also used RunKeeper to keep track of each walk for a GPS trail (“runs” linked in the list above), and some interesting stats along the way.

Here’s a summary of my stats:

  • Total distance walked: 28.07 miles
  • Total time exploring: 12 hours, 26 minutes
  • Number of places checked into on foursquare: 148

So now I have a bunch of interesting data, a list of cool places to go and check out properly (which I can “Explore” using foursquare’s “places I have been” filter), and a much better feeling for my neighborhood. Oh, and as an added bonus, I walked almost 30 miles more than I probably would have in the space of 4 weeks. I’m glad I got all of this in before the weather turned as cold as it is now! Using my Keyring Social Importers, I’ve also imported all of my foursquare data back into a WordPress install, so I can easily slice, dice, and refer back to it.

I had a lot of fun doing this, and would definitely recommend it to anyone who’s moving somewhere new, or even someone who hasn’t spent much time checking out their own immediate neighborhood. It’s also a great excuse to get outside if you work at home.

Get out there and see what you’re missing :)

  1. Todd said:

    That approach sounds about right coming from you! Well done and a true combo of an engineer and internet geek…

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