One common argument against tall buildings is that they reduce street life, because the most expensive high-rises have gyms and other amenities that cause people to stay inside the buildings rather than using the street. Because Manhattan has plenty of high-rises and plenty of street life, I have always thought this was a dumb argument.
But until recently I’ve never thought of any way to prove or disprove the argument empirically- until now. It seems to me that if high-rises were bad for street life, places with expensive high-rises would have lower Walkscores than other neighborhoods; I reason that if high-rise residents stayed inside rather than going outside, they would be surrounded by fewer businesses than low-rise neighborhoods.
So do high-rises generally have lower Walkscores? Not in dense areas; for example, 432 Park Avenue, one of Manhattan’s most expensive buildings, has a Walkscore of 98. Similarly, Boston’s Millenium Tower, a 60-story residential skyscraper, has a Walkscore of 96.