I’ve admired Bill Rankin’s map of “The Midwest” as defined by 100 different corporations, organizations, and agencies. While the Midwest is a contested region, so too is the geographic definition of “Detroit.”
I chose to look at the first 100 images that appeared in a Google image search for “map of Detroit” and overlay the results. Many corporations based in Southfield, Warren, or Dearborn choose to say they are based in “Detroit,” Likewise, most regional organizations (Detroit Chamber, Detroit Water & Sewage, SEMCOG, etc.) represent Detroit with boundaries that extend into surrounding municipalities, most commonly the tri-counties (Wayne, Oakland, Macomb). A number of the 100 maps show urban sprawl to varying degrees while some maps categorize municipalities around the city as “Detroit.” Some maps even included parts of Windsor, Ontario in the “metro Detroit” area. The larger boundaries match the Combined Statistical Area (CSA) and the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) as outlined by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which represent “Detroit” as either a 6 county area (MSA) or a 9 county area (CSA).
I was actually very surprised to find that a great number (35%) of the 100 maps only represented the “Downtown” area of Detroit followed by the City Limits (not including Highland Park and Hamtramck) with the Regional representations of “Detroit” coming in at the third most common. There were two maps of the airport included as well as one map of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota (omitted). I’m not sure what these percentages really represent: where people visit and where investment is focused (Downtown) or maybe a strong regional appeal to being “Detroit.” Thoughts?