I can’t imagine seeing “Sixth Best City to Trick-or-Treat In” on a sign at the city line any time soon, but it’s no small thing that Baltimore was ranked among the best cities for Halloween candy gathering in real estate database Zillow’s trick-or-treat index.
Moving up to sixth from its 12th place showing last year, Baltimore was buoyed by its top five trick-or-treating neighborhoods, namely Patterson Park, Patterson Place, Upper Fells Point, Highlandtown, and Butcher’s-Hill.
While the trick-or-treat test is a classic way to judge good urban design, Zillow’s spin on it has come under fire. As Slate‘s Henry Grabar explains, the classic version of the trick-or-treat test (in which you judge a neighborhood by the number of children trick-or-treating there) works because children and their parents will favor neighborhoods “where cars drive slowly, streets are well-lit, houses are close together, and front doors are close to the street.” Zillow’s index looks at four quantifiable attributes: property values, density, population age, and crime rate. While that’s certainly not the worst way to decide where to knock on doors on Halloween, it can produce some false positives. Not every high-dollar, low-crime neighborhood has an easily navigable sidewalk or house with accessible front doors.
Happy Halloween, here is your grain of salt.