Chart / Map of the Day: US Cities Ranked by Storefront Index

Here’s an important chart for you, showing something that the City Observatory cooked up called the “storefront index.” It measures the number of “customer-facing businesses” along city streets.

Here’s the ranking [in absolute, not per capita, terms]:

It looks like Minneapolis is punching a bit below its weight, though that might be accounted for by the dual downtowns. At any rate, here’s what the City Observatory explanation has to say about the map:

We also use the Storefront Index to track change over time, looking at the growth of businesses and street level activity in a rebounding neighborhood in Portland. There’s also strong evidence to suggest that concentrations of storefront businesses provide a conducive environment for walking. We’ve overlaid the storefront index clusters on a heat map of Walk Scores for selected metropolitan areas to explore the relationship between these two measures. While Walk Score includes destinations like parks and schools, as well as businesses, it also measures walkability from the standpoint of home-based origins, while our Storefront Index shows the concentration of commercial destinations.

City Observatory has developed the Storefront Index as a freely available tool for urbanists and city planners to use in their communities. The index material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (as is all City Observatory material), and shapefiles containing storefront index information is available here.

This is something that Sam Newberg has been harping on for some time in downtown Minneapolis, the number of doors and windows on the streets. I’m not sure if they count skyway businesses in this metric, but I suspect not.

At any rate, it’s safe to say that Minneapolis is not helped by its skyway system, which (in my opinion) dilutes the pedestrian traffic and economic agglomeration potential of the downtown.

Here’s the 3-mile radius map in detail. You can see that most of the storefronts are on Nicollet, Central, or Lake:


[See other cities here.]

At any rate, it’s pretty cool data. Looks like Portland is not just a street in Minneapolis after all?

Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.