The last couple days in class we have been examining what elements in towns indicate social class. Using the power of observation, we have been making assumptions of towns based on what we see (or what we fail to see).
We did this in a couple ways but one way was by looking at train stations and their surroundings. We watched a video of a train ride from Wheaton to Oak Park that showed us 11 different west suburban communities. We wrote down observations for each and were asked to guess which town was the most like Winnetka, where we live.
I came to the conclusion that Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, and River Forest were the most like Winnetka. I chose these three communities for various different reasons. When the communities had fast food chains, they were always higher end companies like Starbucks that only people who had financial flexibility would be able to visit regularly. For the majority of these three towns, there was a lack of telephone poles. This is a more expensive proccess but it is aesthetically pleasing to not have phone poles so it indicates higher class (Winnetka also does this). There were also no billboards that we could see in these towns which means that they had more money because the billboards mess with the aesthetics of the town, and these communities don't need to rely on advertisements as a source of income. Lastly, all three of these communities were aesthetically pleasing with lots of greenery and flowers which means that the towns place a high value on how they look because they have the money to spend on greenery and manicured lawns.
After placing my guesses, I went to check them against the websites below:
My guesses were pretty close, as the towns that most matched up to Winnetka based on income, median age, and consumer spending were Wheaton and River Forest. Wheaton matched up with Winnetka because it had an average income of $89,000 (compared to Winnetka at 122,100). Additionally the mean age of person living in Wheaton is 42 which was closest to Winnetka. It is important to address though that the population in Wheaton is about 11000 people bigger. River Forest though was also very close to Winnetka in the respect of population and income and household spending. The population in River Forest is about 8000 people less than Winnetka and has an average income of $85,000. The household spending is almost identical to Winnetka, coming in at $83,994 (compared to Winnetka at $86005).
Overall, it is incredibly interesting that you can guess so much about a towns class just solely based on your view of the town (not knowing any facts). So many elements in a community are linked to social class.
Which communities did you think were most like Winnetka?