Building Cities for Trick-or-Treating

Earlier this month, Zillow and Walk Score both released a list of top cities for trick-or-treating. All of the cities on the list are relatively big, dense places that routinely show up on all sorts of lists about great cities.

Writing for the Huffington Post, Brent Toderian elaborated on what makes a good trick-or-treating neighborhood and noted that some homes are better than others:

In city planning and design, there’s an old saying about the “Trick-or-Treat Test.” It’s often brought up in the context in suburban home design: Can kids easily find the front door to your house, or must they poke behind the huge multi-car garage, past the parking asphalt, to ring your bell?

Homes that fail this Trick-or-Treat Test aren’t exactly welcoming, and not just on Halloween.

These homes in East Provo are spread out and would require trick-or-treaters to do more walking and less door knocking. Even worse, the house on the right lacks a front door. Much like the homes Toderian describes, the home’s door is off on the side and hard to access.

This concept is similar to the “popsicle test” and, as Toderian goes on to note, is connected to the idea that the presence of children on the streets indicates a great neighborhood.

Toderian also points out that “door density” is key for a good trick-or-treating neighborhood. The idea, he explains, is for kids to maximize the number of doors they can access in a given amount of time. In that light, denser neighborhoods with more dwellings clearly have the advantage over sprawling communities.

Toderian, also criticizes some of the more contrived “safe trick-or-treating environments” such as mall events or trunk-or-treats as evidence of poorly designed neighborhoods.

The ultimate point here is simply that denser, more walkable communities are great for trick-or-treating because they tend to be better designed generally than their sprawling counterparts. The Zillow rankings also help demonstrate that, contrary to many people’s attitudes in the West, “cities” — or places with a lot of people and density — are as great for children as they are for adults. In the end then, cities looking for prosperity might simply work on building neighborhoods that are better for trick-or-treating. Or as Toderian writes,

Cities that are essentially walkable, pass any Trick-or-Treat Test. They are also more resilient, flexible, healthy, green, and economically successful neighbourhoods and cities.

Why is Halloween my favourite holiday? Because it reminds us once a year what great neighbourhoods are made of.

Compared to the homes in the earlier picture, these historic apartments offer a much greater return on time invested for treat-or-treaters because there are more doors to knock on in a smaller amount of space.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Building Cities for Trick-or-Treating

  1. http://goo.gl/maps/z5onv
    This is the neighborhood I grew up in which had AWESOME trick-or-treating. It’s not exactly high density, but the advantage of this level of density was that you were more likely to have traditional families behind every door and families = candy.

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