Seattle Walkability

By Robert Morton 2008/08/20
I recently relocated to Seattle to join Tableau Software, and as I searched for a place to live I realized that I could dramatically reduce my dependence on driving. I used to find a neighborhood with great access to restaurants, stores and a vibrant community. The attached Tableau visualization shows how lucky I am to live and work in Fremont, the Seattle neighborhood affectionately referred to as "The Center of the Universe!"

Seattle Walkability provides a mashup of Google Maps and points of interest ranging from parks and libraries to restaurants and bars.  Given an address, they compute a score based on the variety and quantity of places you can reach on foot.  Lee Byron posted a cool visualization on his blog which aggregated data from for a heatmap of San Francisco.  Using his tools I scraped data for Seattle and loaded it in Tableau to produce the attached visualization (download the TWBX). Green areas indicate the most pedestrian-accessible parts of town and you can see Seattle is dominated by walkable neighborhoods.

In fact, according to, Seattle ranks in the top 10 most walkable cities in the United States. Fremont itself ranks in the top 15 neighborhoods in Seattle; personally I've reduced my driving to once a week, and I fill my car's tank less than once a month. While other locations such as the Edgewater Hotel and Pioneer Square score higher than Tableau's headquarters, it's only because the scoring algorithm doesn't consider accessibility to a giant Lenin statue, a glowing rocket or a troll under the bridge.


Submitted by mchinsky2 (not verified) on

So how did you do that "heatmap"? I don't see that option in tableau

Submitted by Robert M. on

Hi mchinsky2,
Each point of data from is computed based on how many points of interest are accessible within a certain radius from a given location. I used very large points with a washout on the color to give the heatmap effect. Feel free to download the TWBX to see how I constructed the viz.