Detroit neighborhoods are far from being well-known or agreed upon. Arthur Mullen is credited with putting in the effort to identify and map neighborhoods in Detroit in 2003 (map) and his efforts were then scrubbed by Google Maps and quickly became an online standard for neighborhoods in the city. Timothy, who wrote for Huffington Post Detroit, lays out a great history of naming neighborhoods in Detroit (article). Timothy notes that some neighborhood names that appear on Google are completely made up:
Sherwood Park, for example, despite appearing on Google Maps (and a bunch of other places on the web) doesn’t really exist at all. The Eye is just about the coolest name for a neighborhood, ever, except for one problem: nobody actually knows that that’s what it’s called. And whoever thought Fishkorn was ever a good name for anything?
If you like Midtown, then you would be interested to know that the area was largely called Cass Corridor until it was rebranded in 2000 when Midtown Detroit Inc. launched. Recently, there was an attempt to rename the Hubbard-Richard neighborhood, named for Fr. Gabriel Richard savior of Detroit’s 1832 Cholera epidemic. The neighborhood’s best known landmark is the historic St. Anne’s Church, which is one of the oldest standing. Detroit Long Term planning (DFC) was hoping to rename the neighborhood as Cork Town Shores to make the area more trendy.
This past year, Alex Alsup of Loveland Technologies created a neighborhoods map based on user submitted boundaries and pulled together various other sources, like Zillow, to try to give every area of Detroit a name (map).
“We got tired of looking at a Detroit split up by zip codes, and all the neighborhood maps of Detroit that are half empty, so we created a map where Detroit is completely filled in with neighborhoods.
We know it’s not 100% accurate (there’s probably no such thing as a completely accurate Detroit neighborhood map) so if you see things that are wrong, take it to the comments and let us know! The map will change as our understanding of peoples’ neighborhoods does!”
Investment in Detroit is increasing, even in bankruptcy. Developers are coming in and building new things, people are moving into trendy neighborhoods, and more revitalization will lead to even more rebranding of certain areas of the city. The most important and critical step in all of this revitalization and reinvestment is community engagement. Just as there are many areas without a neighborhood name, there are just as many neighborhoods of Detroit that have existed for a long time. New residents and developers need to join these communities while being respectful and understanding of the community that is already there.
The featured map is a compilation of user submitted neighborhoods (Loveland Technologies, n=129), Zillow neighborhoods, and the City of Detroit neighborhoods shapefile. The brighter lines represent more agreement, while the lighter lines represent less agreement. Even from this map we can see neighborhoods that are obviously recognizable. This map also highlights the areas of Detroit that don’t have strong neighborhood identities. Hopefully, more community engagement will help neighborhoods and communities to develop their own sense of identity and naming as Detroit welcomes new investments and new residents.