I am a real estate lawyer. I help buyers buy and sellers sell their homes, their condos, their apartment buildings. One at a time.
Each deal I work on is the most important contract in the local real estate market. To my clients and the parties on sitting accross the table they are. And because each individual transaction is to each individual client, that specific deal is also the most important case I am working on too.
But in a wholly other sense, each transaction is part of a larger real estate marketplace. Each transaction adds another data point that economists and sociologists can pick over and analyze. The collective information gleaned from all transactions informs us all about the larger trends and patterns in our communities. The collective body of information gathered in real estate conveyancing and from census data, all helps paint a very different picture.
Now check out this New York Times interactive mapping display and see the bigger picture. Plug "Chicago, IL" into the search bar and chew on the images that NYT generates. Uptown Libertarian does an interesting analysis of my local environs. Take a moment and see what you can learn about your own, too.