Princeton is known as a walkable town, but the ease with which residents can walk to amenities varies greatly between different neighborhoods. A new map of walkability from walkscore.com allows us to easily see which neighborhoods are most walkable. The walkscore.com algorithm takes into account the stores and attractions that are within walking distance, and gives each location a ‘walkscore’ of 0-100. 100 is the best, representing a “walker’s paradise”. Viewed on a map (see above), walkable areas are green, with yellow shading representing moderately walkable neighborhoods, and unshaded areas more car-dependent. (click here for a zoom-able map).
The downtown central business district around Witherspoon Street and Nassau Street shows as the most walkable area, based on the numerous stores, boutiques, libraries and restaurants there. But heading east, the East Nassau / Tree Streets neighborhood centered around Nassau and Chestnut Street also ranks as very walkable. This area has more residential character and has a nice park at the end of Spruce Street. Later this year, the Princeton Post Office will relocate to this neighborhood.
The Witherspoon-John neighborhood, centered around John Street just north of downtown, is also a walkable area. Part of this reflects the close proximity to downtown, but this neighborhood also has a number of its own bodega-type grocery stores and one of the most popular cafe / restaurants in town (Cafe 44 / Tortuga’s, at 41 Leigh Avenue). Homes in this area are smaller, and more affordable. A move is afoot to have the entire neighborhood designated as a ‘historic area’.
Beyond that, not many neighborhoods in Princeton score particularly highly on the walkscore.com map. They are mainly residential, and although they are good for walking a dog, many residents rely on cars to run errands or go shopping. The area around the Princeton Shopping Center shows as moderately walkable on the walkscore.com map. Some neighbors do walk to the many restaurants, stores and supermarket in the Shopping Center, but it is laid out mainly with cars in mind. Many parts of Princeton are pretty far from activity centers. Thanks to Princeton’s sidewalk network, it is theoretically possible to walk to downtown from these neighborhoods, but they are shown as unshaded ‘car-dependent’ areas on the walkscore.com map.
To get the walkscore of any address, or view a map of walkable areas in Princeton, check out the website at walkscore.com. Do you think their ratings are a fair reflection of how walkable each Princeton neighborhood is? Or are some neighborhoods underrated? Let us know in the comments section below!
One has to wonder about their scoring algorithm, which seems a bit pathetic for a fit adult walking at 3ish miles per hour. From near the Littlebrook school, it’s ~15 min on foot to the shopping center (via the cut-thru from Leabrook to Grover) and to the Whole Earth Center (via the cut-thru from Harriet). 25 minutes via Hamilton / Spruce / Park / Spring to Hinds Plaza. Sidewalks all the way. Seems fairly walkable to me, even in the depths of winter as long as people shovel their sidewalks. And it’s great exercise built into everyday activities. Speeding, inattentive drivers are the worst obstacle.