Inflection Points: The Cities of TheVentureCity


At TheVentureCity, we spend a lot of time looking at data from "Ventures"–the startups we invest in and help grow. But there is another part of our name that we don’t pay as much attention to: the "City" part. To address this imbalance, this edition of Inflection Points is about cities. 

It comes from a study called “Urban spatial order: street network orientation, configuration, and entropy,” by Geoff Boeing. Using OpenStreetMap data, the author plots the orientation of every street in 100 cities around the world on a circular “polar histogram.” He is visualizing the extent to which cities are organized around a grid system to ask: Are the city’s streets well organized or chaotic?

To see what that looks like in practice, this chart below compares the polar histogram of Manhattan, NYC with Boston. Manhattan is almost entirely oriented on a Northeast-Southwest grid system, while Boston’s streets are “all over the place.” In other words, Manhattan is less entropic (disorderly) than Boston.

Fig. 3
Figure 1: Street networks and corresponding polar histograms for Manhattan and Boston

The chart below shows all 100 cities in the study in order of increasing entropy. I have circled cities associated with the TheVentureCity team. 

Figure 2: Polar histograms of 100 world cities’ street orientations, sorted from most to least grid-like (equivalent to least to greatest entropy)

Congratulations to our Chicago-based investments director, Margaret Rowe for living in the least entropic city in the study! She narrowly edged out her Miami colleagues, who came in 2nd. Her city’s well-organized street system is perhaps a contributor to her clear thinking when analyzing deals.

And congratulations also to our team in São Paulo, home of the most entropic TheVentureCity city. Way to go, Ricardo Sangion, Edson Mackeenzy, and André Moura! Their ability to navigate their "chaotic" city streets must contribute to their persistence and resilience.