One of the first pairs of photos shows Hyde Park, a wealthy area on the south side of Chicago (remember our field trip?!) and under it a very poor neighborhood to the immediate south, Woodlawn. The photos are staggeringly different, aren't they?
Here's my own pairing: Kelvyn Park (in Chicago) followed by Winnetka:
I chose this pairing since our school is in Winnetka and our Social Service Board has partnered with Kelvyn Park. Even a color blind guy like me can see that the difference is all in GREEN (money, trees, green lights!).
It turns out the pattern seems pretty universal: "Old Money" areas -- think East Egg or the North Shore -- are loaded with incredibly mature trees that have stood for 100 years or more; whereas, less affluent areas have little to no forestation. This is not to suggest that you can't find a poor stretch of Appalachian forest in Kentucky, for example... only that trees in any area seem to offer a key clue of relative wealth.
Though the photos on the site (above) are aerial views, it seems likely that you can infer the wealth of a town or even a neighborhood within Chicago, say, by counting trees. Saplings are relatively inexpensive but slow growing. Mature trees are extremely expensive to plant. Yet, trees not only connote wealth, but they also provide shade, invisibility, and privacy, a particularly important commodity among American aristocrats.
Neighbors near where I live just planted a perimeter of 90 trees around their property. When Michael Jordan bought his new Palm Beach home, as he did with his $28 million dollar Highland Park home -- he immediately landscaped with "a literal forest of trees," offering "little or no glimpse of his mammoth 28,000-square-foot home, together with 3 separate structures; a guard house, guest house and pool house." Why is this? Why does American wealth manifest itself in withdrawal from the larger population? Why is it so rooted in exclusivity? (Think: Charles Foster Kane -- "NO TRESSPASSING!") To what extent should trees be considered a public resource?
What other markers of social class are you aware of?