Ever wondered what your town's identity might look like based on color?  (No, not skin color.  We've got Census data for that.)

What about the color of your buildings?  What's the palette of the houses in your community?

It's a question that intrigued artist Samuel Yates. He has created a public art project, called "The Color of Palo Alto," that seeks to catalog all the colors of the houses in the town, average them out, and arrive at a definitive set of tones for the city. From the New York Times' By Design blog:

...Yates photographed each parcel of land in the city of Palo Alto, Calif., seven days a week for one year.

A software program was designed to calculate color traits for each digital photo (such as average pixel colors). In a democratic manner then, each photographed parcel in the city will contribute one "vote" of average mean color toward a final Color of Palo Alto. The resulting shades, based on Yates's 17,729 photographs will be sold at hardware stores as "The Colors of Palo Alto."

Colors obtained by averages taken from particular streets, seasons and months were also developed. As three colors were determined to be mathematically and statistically the "Color of Palo Alto," Yates is putting the final decision between light, medium, and dark to the public. (You can weigh in at The Color of Palo Alto.)

Here's a nifty video trailer about the project:

What would be even neater would be to compare this with similar efforts in other cities. Wouldn't it be interesting to compare the results from Palo Alto to, say, Miami, or Seattle, or Santa Fe, or Portsmouth?

Although, given that the extremely detailed and complicated Palo Alto project has taken Yates seven years -- and counting -- to produce, I'm not holding my breath for another city anytime soon.

Photos from The Color of Palo Alto, via NYT