Map: Comparative Health Rating for Sections of Detroit 1920-1921

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In 1922, the health of Detroit was marked by a spike in measles cases. Infant mortality was through the roof at 87.6 deaths per 1,000 births.

This map in particular ranks each of Detroit’s 23 sections at the time by aggregating 23 different health indicators.

Map: Predicting Gentrification in Detroit with Longitudinal Census Data


Ken Steif and his team at Urban Spatial note the Urban Institute’s call for an early warning system for gentrification in US cities. In response, they decided to start analyzing data and building models to help predict gentrification potential. The above map is based on models run with 2000 and 2010 data to forecast at the census tract level for the year 2020.

Wall Map at Detroit Animal Care and Control


Detroit Animal Care and Control (DACC) recently moved into the former Michigan Humane Society building at 7401 Chrysler Dr. from their previous location on West Jefferson.

Staff had enjoyed referencing this large Hearne Brothers wall map to be able to  get down to the street level for their work. Notice the built in tape measure hanging from the middle of the map.


Map: Rough Sketch of the King’s Domain in Detroit 1790


Last September, the Clements Library at the University of Michigan acquired a previously unknown map of Detroit that was discovered in a Windsor home basement.

The Clements Library will be holding an upcoming event about the discovery:

A Newly Discovered 1790 Detroit Map 
March 7, 2017 12 – 1pm
William L. Clements Library, Room G060

The 1790 Detroit Map is also available for viewing at the WIlliam L. Clements Library every Friday from 10am – 4pm. The Library is free and open to the public every Friday, and is available to researchers MondayThursday.

Map: Detroit’s Changing Region 2000-2010


The CUNY Graduate School Center for Urban Research has put together some great tools to compare shifting demographics across various regions in the U.S.

In the Detroit region in particular you can see the dispersion of Detroit’s black population into inner ring suburbs and the general decrease in population density across the whole region.

Map: Languages Spoken in Detroit Homes 2014


Households in Detroit in general are homogeneous; the city ranks low on the diversity scale due to the 83% majority African-American population. However, the city has incredibly concentrated neighborhoods of cultural significance. Detroit remains a global city.

Southwest Detroit is most often referred to as Mexicantown due to the large Mexican-American population that can be traced back for decades in the city. There was a small, but growing Mexican foreign born population in the 1960s (map). The increase in Mexican immigration was due in large part to the industrial jobs offered by Henry Ford. Mexican-Americans are currently the largest single immigrant group in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties.

Warrendale, on the city’s lower Westside, neighbors Dearborn and has a similar history of Middle Eastern immigrants with the first coming in the 1870s. Various waves of immigration followed Middle Eastern conflict such as the Lebanese Civil War, the Gulf War in Iraq (2003), and even the current Syrian War. The area near 7 Mile and Woodward is known as “Chaldean Town” due to the large Iraqi Christian population, but Arabic is not the primary language spoken so the area does not highlight on the map.

Country of origin, heritage, and language are not always synonymous. In 2007, the Detroit City Council passed legislation that prohibited city employees and police from asking for someone’s immigration status unless directly related a suspected crime. Detroit has always been a city of innovative immigrants and should protect its status as a sanctuary for all who come seeking opportunity.

Workshop: Data, Mapping, and Research Justice


I’ll be teaching my workshop on data and mapping again this February 2017 with Allied Media Projects/ Co.Open.

During the 4-week course we will journey through the entire mapping process; from paper survey to digital database, basic map visualizations, and finally analysis. We will be working with free and open source software (LibreOffice, QGIS, Inkscape, etc.).

Check out some of the past course projects:

Wednesday nights in February (4 weeks long) 6-9pm

Sign up at

Map: Detroit Neighborhood Markets “Blue-lining” 1932

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This map is one among 35 other cities profiled in a market survey by the Advertising department of the Curtis publishing Company, called: “City Markets: A Study of Thirty-Five Cities.” The primary market assessment conducted here was based on circulation of newspapers and magazines, but included auto sales, consumer goods, and transportation spending.

The report notes that the 1932 maps are improved from earlier versions as “homogeneous residential areas” have their own boundaries rather than conventional or municipal boundaries. The map also has similarities with the well-known “redlining” maps, but in this case it is “blue-lining”:

“[…] manager was instructed to conduct circulation work in the better residential areas (colored red and yellow on the Survey map). He was forbidden to do work in areas colored blue (for the most part with foreign-speaking or colored residents).

In 1932, Detroit’s Black Bottom and Paradise Valley match the South-North grouping of blue areas that reach from the riverfront almost to Detroit’s northern border of 8 Mile Rd. Notable red areas that stand out are Indian Village, Rosedale Park, Palmer Park, Dexter-Linwood, as well as outside of the Detroit border in the Grosse Pointes, Royal Oak/Pleasant Ridge, and Birmingham.


Map: De Lery’s Plan of Detroit 1749

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Many people have seen Bellin’s map of Fort Detroit from 1764, but fewer people know that Bellin’s map was based on Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Lery’s survey in 1749. Huron Creek really stands out as a significant landmark.

This version of De Lery’s map appears in “History of Wayne County and the city of Detroit, Michigan” edited by Clarence and M. Agnes Burton.

Map: Environmental Justice in Detroit

Screen Shot 2017-01-09 at 9.16.10 AM.pngThe EPA has developed a handy tool called EJSCREEN to explore data related to environmental justice around the country. Data from EPA and other sources are pulled together and can be examined side-by-side. In the image example the maps are comparing “linguistic isolation” and the EPA’s cancer risk index.

Map: Detroit Eastside Evolution 1876-1925


Thanks to images posted by member of DetroitYes these images show the evolution of the Eastside of Detroit from rural and uninhabited to at one point becoming home to the Detroit Municipal Airport in 1925. The one piece that never changes is the location of Windmill Point Lighthouse.

Another interesting change to watch is the changes to the Conner Creek from a wide-mouthed creek to a diagonal waterway until it was finally covered over to serve as a covered sewer drain.

The most evident change between 1876 and 1925 is a natural and flowing landscape to a rigid, grid of a growing major city.

Map: Detroit is Full of Old Housing


Housing in Detroit is often discussed in terms of its absence or dilapidation. It’s no wonder that Detroit’s housing stock has suffered over the decades of job loss, disinvestment, and discrimination. When nearly 40% of residents live below the poverty line, investing in housing comes secondary to food, water, heat, etc. The vast majority of the city (93%) was built before 1978 when the Lead Rule banning lead in paint was adopted.

The city saw a housing boom during and after World War II when thousands of people migrated to Detroit for good paying jobs which at the time made up one-sixth of all employment in the country. Currently, 62% of residential housing was built before 1950 in Detroit.

Internationally, housing has been shown to be a critical component of good health. Whether it is providing a cement floor and tin roof to families in Haiti or ensuring routine maintenance in Brooklyn public housing, the structures that we live in contribute greatly to our physical health and overall well-being. The Housing for Health initiative provides a guide and toolkit to ensure nine specific healthy home practices to create healthier communities.

Map: Residences of Employees of Penberthy Injector Company Explosion 1901

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A previous hand drawn map by Dr. Thomas Klug was featured here and he promptly shared another hand drawn map that he published as part of his dissertation “The Roots of Open Shop: Employers, Trade Unions, and Craft Labor Markets in Detroit 1859-1907.”

His map specifically tracks workers at the Penberthy Injector Company where an explosion in 1901 was noted as the second worst industrial accident in Detroit. Klug found that the local newspapers often published the names and addresses of the workers killed or injured in the explosion, which he was able to use to test the degree of integration in Detroit’s labor market by associating workers with factories.

“Map 1 displays this linkage. The names and addresses for 102 employees of Penberthy Injector Company can be confirmed. Each one is shown with an “x” on the map. As indicated, the residences of the company’s employees were scattered throughout Detroit, covering both the west and east sides of the city. One exception is the Woodward Avenue corridor. The area around Woodward, starting from the edge of the downtown business district and continuing past the city limits, was a showcase for elegant mansions and comfortable middle-class homes and apartment buildings. For that reason not many employees of the Penberthy Injector Company lived in the Woodward corridor.”

Map: Wealth Divides in Metro Detroit


CityLab covered a recent project by the Esri mapping company looking at the persistent problem of income disparities within cities; Wealth Divides. For Detroit, there isn’t much to report as median income is $25,764 and 40% of people live in poverty. It’s about the regional disparities and inequalities in Detroit.

I was surprised to see broad similarities across the region where the majority of households generate less than $70,000 per year. There is only one Census Tract in Detroit where household income breaks $100,000. Beyond the city limits income only changes in the Grosse Pointes to the East, Dearborn Heights to the West, and Royal Oak to the North. All three of those areas are anomalies surrounded by areas of lower income.


Map: Blue Beacons at Wayne State University 1971


This map accompanied the Field Notes IV by the Detroit Geographical Expedition led by Bob Colenutt in 1971. The blue beacon safety sites had become a point of contention with the Cass-Trumbull community.

“The unofficial policy appears to one of protecting University property, including the students, from the community people. In this sense, the community becomes the enemy–the human element under surveillance. Thus the presence of the WSU police is not for the benefit of the community but is strictly for the benefit of the University.”

In the past the WSU police were in contention with the community. More recently, the WSU police department has expanded patrols into neighborhoods around the campus as a service to areas where students live. The WSU police have been lauded for their efforts to reduce overall crime in the Midtown area during revitalization efforts.


Map: Detroit Traffica Island Picnic Spot


Similar to roads knots, there exist odd shaped and often lush park-style spaces in between the expressways. The Detroit Area Rambling Network calls these “traffic islands” with a beautifully hand drawn map of the I-75 and M-8 (Davison) interchange. The invisible in-betweens perhaps new opportunities to see cities in a new light.

Map: Metro Detroit Plant Closings and Layoffs 2001 – 2004


This map accompanied a series of reports by Good Jobs First and highlight the on-going challenges of metro Detroit industry, job access, and opportunity.

Good Jobs First has since produced a string of increasingly sophisticated studies, using Esri products in-house or with partners. The largest is The Geography of Incentives: Economic Development and Land Use in Michigan. Funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, it maps 4,000 deals in seven metro areas and sorts the deals through the lens of Myron Orfield’s community typology and other criteria. In a state hard hit by the decline of manufacturing, the most damaging images involve job loss as well as creation: it is the first time incentives have been geographically juxtaposed against plant closings and mass layoffs (as officially notified under the federal WARN Act). For the state’s most generous subsidy, the maps of the largest metro areas like Detroit, Michigan, show very few deals going to the central city or the densest inner-ring suburbs, even though those areas have suffered the vast majority of shutdowns. For some, the images conjure up redlining, the practice of geographic discrimination that banks and insurance companies have been accused of.