To See and Be Seen

What effect does the neighborhood you live in have on your dating prospects?

Taha Erdem Ozturk
Data Mining the City 2022


This project aims to create a dateability index for the neighborhoods of New York City, starting with Upper West Side.

Many people flock to big cities not only for better job prospects but also for a more vibrant social life and a higher chance to find their significant other(s). However, cities have also become massive, complex, and virtually endless entities in which where you live, who do you interact with and even the daily commute are all seemingly small things that can have a massive impact on one’s romantic life. As part of this class, I will try to break down such factors that affect the chances of having a successful date, and try to find those that are related to the urban environment to create a tangible index of “ZIP Codes with Better Chances of Having A Successful Dating Life”.

Conceptual Diagram

Fig 1. Conceptual diagram.

Although dating behaviors vastly differ from person to person, what this study aims to focus on is to identify average universal contributing factors that a neighborhood might have on a person’s dating life. Hence, very important coefficients such as physical appearance, race, preferences, sexual orientation etc. are excluded from this conceptual map.

What this study focuses on is universal urban factors such as the availability of third places to spend time outside of home, or the availability of good dating spots such as restaurants above three stars on Yelp. Furthermore, the conceptual map includes Census data such as Annual Household Median Income or education level, as well as factors such as “Household Student Debt” to better illustrate whether if the residents have disposable income for dating or not. Another important factor, along with the physical and financial availability is the work/leisure patterns of the residents, such as how much time do they get to spend outside after work, as well as the attractiveness of their neighborhood during these hours.

A draft visualization of the distance between the nearest Subway station from each residence in the Upper West Side. Shape file and geographic data retrieved from NYC Open Data.

Lastly, another important contributing factor to a successful dating life is the proximity and connectivity of the neighborhood to means of transportation, such as the subway, Citi Bikes, buses and Uber. And although transportation enables people to date people from other neighborhoods (and sometimes even other boroughs), the connectedness of the neighborhood, as well as the physical distance of it to other neighborhoods is also an important factor. This could be measured by the distance to important Subway stations, waiting times, commuting times and other time-distance based datasets.

All this data provided, this study hopes to illustrate and simulate a tangible “dateability index” of all ZIP Codes in the city, to better see and to be seen.

How it works

Neighborhood Attractiveness During Leisure Hours = Cellular Location Data Between 7pm-2am / ZIP Code
Availability of Good Spots for Dating = Cafes & Restaurants Above
Availability of Third Places (Spaces to spend time, except home or work) = Amount of coffeeshops, restaurants, cultural institutions, open spaces, parks; as well as the eyes on the streets!
Ease of Access = Transportation data, and proximity and connectivity to other neighborhoods and boroughs
People = Amount of people available for dates


  • NYC Neighborhood Parcel Map
  • NYC Businesses GIS Data for Restaurants and Cafes
  • NYC Parcel Data
  • Google StreetView Imagery of Street Activity
  • MTA Subway Ridership Data
  • NYC Open Data for Subway Lines, Buses, and Transportation
  • CitiBike Availability Data
  • Google Maps/Yelp Ratings
  • NYC Parcel Data
  • Census Demographics Data (Block Group)
  • American Census Survey (ACS) Data



Taha Erdem Ozturk
Data Mining the City 2022

Architecture student and computational design researcher at Columbia University GSAPP. Based out of New York City.