Detroit Expressway Assignment Coding Map 1955

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I stumbled across this hand drawn map and found it fascinating. It’s really interesting to think about the breakdown of planning an expressway from its ramps, interchanges, trip directions, construction sections, etc. If you couldn’t guess the area pictured is Northwest Detroit. I assume this coding has lived on until today, but haven’t verified yet.

Map: Metro Detroit Sidewalk and Crosswalk Data

Screen Shot 2019-10-28 at 9.46.02 AMSEMCOG has purchased data for sidewalks throughout the Detroit region. The dataset was created using automated AI digitization of high resolution satellite imagery.

The data do not capture condition or quality of sidewalks, but at least now we have a sense of availability and connection.

Map: Desire Lines Across Detroit 2010


I’ve mapped “desire lines” in the Cass Corridor, but always balked at taking the effort citywide. Now I don’t have to and can shout out the work of Alec Foster and Joshua Newell who found 5,680 footpaths totaling over 150 miles in the city. In there recently published study:

“Informal footpaths known as desire lines crisscross the city of Detroit and are visible from space. Despite their prevalence, especially in postindustrial cities, no comprehensive study of desire lines exists for any urban area.”

They recommend working with residents to preserve desire lines and footpaths and note that in their study area of the Lower Eastside, nearly 70% of all desire lines disappeared in just 6 years.

HT @DetroitGreenways

Map: Coffee Shop Shifts in Detroit 2017 – 2019


In 2015 I wanted to see how coffee shops in Detroit might relate to research on Starbucks and gentrification. I tracked on-going changes in the coffee landscape in 2017. Now there are more changes in coffee, but it’s more a consolidation than citywide growth. There are a few upcoming neighborhood coffee venues planned, such as Morningside Cafe.

Neighborhoods adjacent to the 7.2 square mile Downtown-Midtown investment zone are seeing expansion and new coffee shops opening up adding to existing density of coffee options. However, neighborhoods a bit further out are starting to lose their coffee shops where there was no change between 2015 to 2017. Most notably Ashe Coffee’s attempt in Rivertown was a flop and the rarely open Coffee and (_____) closed its doors in Jefferson Chalmers. Will Leather Goods (former Tomboy Market) hosted a coffee bar, but everything is closing down to make way for another pizza restaurant in Detroit. In the same period between 2017 to 2019, Nandi Knowledge Cafe relocated off of Woodward to a space near Hope Village, Fourteen East Cafe is in an active move into the new Mike Ilitch School of Business, and Anthology Coffee moved to Eastern Market after the Ponyride building was sold in Corktown.

A standout from the 2019 tracking effort was the return of Biggby to Detroit with a stand-alone brick and mortar on Livernois Avenue.

EDIT 10/21/19: Completely forgot that Ponyride sold their building and therefore Anthology Coffee made the move to Eastern Market. Thanks to Kate Abbey-Lambertz for catching it. Map and content updated.


Map: Detroit Population Forecast 2045

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Across the Metro Detroit region, SEMCOG predicts population increases. However, the many areas in the City of Detroit are predicted to see significant population loss by 2045. With already record population loss, these predictions make for a difficult road ahead for the city still struggling to ensure basic services in every neighborhood.



Map: Auto Emissions in Metro Detroit 2017

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The New York Times completed an analysis of driving emissions from the CO2 estimates generated by Boston University’s Database of Road Transportation Emissions.

As the New York Times writes:

“Emissions from driving in the Detroit metro area grew faster than population between 1990 and 2017, which means emissions per person have increased.”

Similar models that we’ve posted about previously have shown the detriment of our auto-centric regional transportation networks, especially around expressways and arterial roads and related to greenhouse gas emissions.

Map: School Segregation in Metro Detroit 2015-16

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This map from the ProPublica “Miseducation” project stood out to me because the donut rings of the past have been recreated with inner ring regional suburbs having low segregation as African American residents have left Detroit for different school districts. Yet the next ring shows where school and likely community integration have slowed or stopped (i.e. Birmingham).

Map: Accidents involving Detroit Public School Children in 1935

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This map from the Detroit Traffic Survey 1936-1937 reminds me of the similar map from 1968 map highlighting areas where commuters run over black children and more recent map of children’s traffic fatalities within a 10 year timeframe. The report reads:

“Intersections adjacent to schools are guarded by patrol boys, police officers, and traffic signals, for a period of time immediately before the opening of school at 8:00 or 8:30 in the morning, during noon recesses approximately between 12:00 noon and 1:00 P.M., and again at the close of school shortly after 3:00 P.M. As appears in Figure 89, there are peaks in the injury and fatality curves at these times resulting, of course, from the fact that in spite of supervision given, the exposure of children to traffic is great in comparison with exposure during the hours in which school is in session.”

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Map: Updated Regional Transit Plan

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After the previous Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Director left, assuming because there was no more money for his position, the RTA has relaunched their regional plan for 2045.

Movement is already underway with unified fares under the new DART system for DDOT buses, SMART buses, and the Qline.

Map: Heat and Income in Detroit

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NPR‘s recent analysis of heat impacts using NASA/U.S. Geological Survey satellite imagery and U.S. Census American Community Survey data showed no correlation with income in Detroit. However, it has been well documented that extreme heat affects low-income cities more acutely.

Map: Detroit’s Coworking Landscape Stabilizing 2019

In 2014, I mapped out Detroit’s coworking landscape based on cost of monthly membership at a drop-in or “hot desk.” Besides using a bad map projection, I failed to account for the exclusive nature of many coworking spaces in Detroit’s Downtown. In 2017, I mapped the change in coworking spaces with a focus on locations that closed and increases in costs. Besides there being 12 new coworking spaces in the city in 2017 (7 closures), costs remained relatively stable.


In 2019, the coworking landscape hasn’t altered much with just 2 new spaces (4 closures). Costs still remain stable with increases seen at some of the newer spaces launched in 2017 as new access points for marginalized groups, including parents and women. Ponyride is completely moving locations after selling their building as part of the Greater Corktown real estate boom spurred by Ford Motor Company moving into the neighborhood.

Coworking remains a predominantly Downtown and Midtown activity with just a few neighborhood opportunities outside of the 7.2 square mile area of concentrated revitalization. Seems that coworking efforts would be a strong opportunity for the libraries to get, keep, and innovate with new funding?


Map: Downtown Detroit’s Unbuilt Highline and Superblocks 1950s


This conceptual plan takes the idea of dedicated space for people to gather to an entirely new level. If this plan had been implemented, Detroit would have had a Highline well before The collected works of Gerald Crane and Norbert Gorwic (CG) highlights their pedestrian focused plan for Downtown Detroit:

“In the superblocks surrounding the core system of elevated decks provides for the complete separation of pedestrian and vehicular traffic. The top of the decks form a new level of pedestrian squares and piazzas linked by pedestrian bridges, making possible an uninterrupted walk through the entire Central Business District. Vehicular access and parking facilities are provided beneath the decks.

Then came the People Mover, but could it be possible to link existing parking decks as rooftop parks connected by pedestrian bridges?


Map: Neighbor to Neighbor Community Outreach Zones 2018


In 2018, the Quicken Loans Community Fund and the United Community Housing Coalition (UCHC) undertook the enormous effort of surveying every property headed to tax foreclosure and produced the Neighbor to Neighbor report. Early survey efforts in 2015 had previously taken place on a smaller scale as part of the Motor City Mapping project, although this report was given the tagline: “the first Detroit property tax foreclosure census.”

This map gives an interesting view of the reach and coverage of various community organizations in Detroit. Some are specifically focused on housing instability, but many of the community organizations that partnered have a wide range of issue topics that they engage in.

Map: Presidential Detroit 2020 Candidate Stops


During the 2016 election cycle I tracked campaigns stops by candidates and their surrogates in Detroit. I wondered how the recent 2020 Democratic candidates reached geographically during the month of July before, during, and after the debates hosted in Detroit. The question I most often saw on Facebook and Twitter was: “Did any of the candidates make it out of the 7.2 square mile area of Downtown?”

The Detroit Free Press attempted to aggregate and map candidate stops and sightings, but had a number of missing events including the Qline shutdown caused by Joe Biden and Mike Duggan’s visit to Detroit One Coney Island.


There were a few candidates that made the effort to go beyond Downtown. Notably, Jay Inslee visited 48217 and the Detroit Islamic Center, Kirsten Gillibrand spent a lot of time hanging out and working out in West Village, but by far Kamala Harris was all across the map in Downtown, West Village, and visiting struggling businesses along the Livernois Avenue of Fashion. Three candidates made it beyond Downtown, but much of Detroit was left unseen. Hopefully future candidate trips will seek to engage more residents across the city.



Workshop: Detroit Counter Cartography and Mapping

DMRJ Workshop(1)

Mapping is a powerful tool to influence positive change for people, programs, and policies. Participants will be lead through a skills-building in map creation, maps to highlight under-represented narratives, and mapping to advance social justice causes.

WHEN: Saturday, September 14th @ 9am – 2pm (Lunch provided)

WHERE: WSU Anthropology Computer Lab, Old Main Building (corner of Cass and Warren), Room 1143

RSVP: Link (limited to 22 participants)

Map: Detroit Square – Transforming Cultural Center

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The design team has been selected from the three finalists to transform Detroit’s Cultural Center. The proposal seeks to radically change 10 blocks around 12 cultural and educational institutions in Midtown.

These efforts harken back to the 1970s plans by the Detroit City Plan Commission that included a large central park and long malls to connect various institutions.

Map: Metro Detroit’s Political Geography 2016


In FiveThirthyEight‘s recent project, they find the nuances of political geography for major metropolitan areas. Metro Detroit is not in the top 20 “most politically polarized” cities or regions. As the map shows, Metro Detroit, anchored by the City of Detroit, is heavily Democrat with a halo of evenly split inner ring suburbs, before dispersing to more Republican favored precincts around the edges of the region.

Map: Detroit’s Surveillance State 2019


Project Green Light has become something more than imagined. More from America Under Watch:

“Detroit’s real-time face surveillance is designed to operate together with a program called Project Green Light Detroit, an initiative launched in January 2016 that has dramatically expanded the city’s network of surveillance cameras. The city has pitched the initiative as a way to deter crime and improve police response times to incidents at locales across the city. Its original focus was on businesses open during late-night hours such as gas stations, fast food restaurants, and liquor stores. Partner locations now also include churches, hotels, clinics, addiction treatment centers, affordable housing apartments, and schools.”

Map: Detroit’s Jewish Food Scene 2018


Food in Detroit is typically signified by Downtown dining, Eastern Market, and urban agriculture, but there are numerous ethnic enclaves bringing metro Detroit amazing foods to eat. Nosher highlights some of the best locations with this nice illustrated map by Aly Miller.

Detroit is a city defined by resourcefulness, entrepreneurship, and a fascinating tension between honoring the old and embracing the new. The same could be said of Detroit’s Jewish food scene, where iconic delis and bakeries operate beside upstart food businesses (yet everyone still sources Sy Ginsberg corned beef and Ma Cohen’s smoked fish), and where urban gardens that feed the local community are sprouting up on previously vacant lots.