Survey Says: What Makes a City Great?

The results of a survey commissioned by Sasaki Associates reveal key insights into what makes cities great for those who love them, as well as where planners and urban designers should focus their efforts in improving the urban experience.

2 minute read

July 29, 2014, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Jared Green provides an overview of the What Makes A City Great? survey [pdf], including an introduction of the survey's methodology (i.e., the survey polled "1,000 urbanites in San Francisco, Chicago, Austin, New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C. what they love most about their city), interdisciplinary research team (i.e., "the team who put together the survey is comprised of a planner, landscape architect...and an architect") and key findings on highlighted areas including:

  • What do urbanites love most about their cities?
  • Where do urbanites' favorite experiences happen
  • What makes a city's buildings iconic?
  • What do urbanites like least about getting around?

Green, writing for the ASLA's The Dirt, also makes the case for the importance of the findings: "Surveys like Sasaki’s are important. We need to attract as many people as possible to cities, because urban life is central to a more sustainable future."

Anthony Flint also wrote about the results of the survey in an earlier post for CityLab, focusing on the importance of restaurants to positive city experiences, as revealed by the data.

"Eighty-two percent of urbanites appreciate their city’s culinary offerings, and a new restaurant is the top reason nearly half of those surveyed would venture out to explore different parts of their city. The majority of city residents also consider food and restaurants to be the most outstanding aspect of cities they love to visit," writes Flint.

For more entre to the survey, Sasaki Associates also boiled down the study's key findings into an infographic [pdf], which you can also find on a blog post written by the firm.

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