Map: The Geography of Arab Detroit

Screen Shot 2018-06-10 at 8.13.25 PM

This map (without data sources or references) is featured in the book Arab Detroit 9/11: Life in the Terror Decade by Nabeel Abraham, Sally Howell, and Andrew Shryock. It’s unclear what year this represents or the source of information. Based on the chapter I assume the data comes from the “Detroit Arab American Study” (DAAS) in 2003.

“Although Arabs can be found throughout metropolitan Detroit, there are tow areas that contain the major concentrations of people of Middle Eastern descent. Each area contains about half of Arab Detroit’s population and includes a band running from east to west. One area runs across Wayne County, and the other lies in the suburbs north of Detroit in Oakland and Macomb counties. The first area is centered in the city of Dearborn, which borders the western edge of Detroit and, with one-third of its population classified as Arab (2005 ACS), is often considered to be the largest concentration of Arabs in the United States. This is the historic home of most Lebanese Muslims and more recently includes Yemeni, Palestinian, and Iraqi Muslims. The area extends eastward from Dearborn into the west side of Detroit, includes portions of Downriver to the south, and, moves across through Dearborn Heights into Wayne COunty’s western suburbs. […]

The second area lies mostly in the suburbs north of Detroit, in Oakland and Macomb counties, and is home to the Iraqi Christian population, the Syrian population, the Lebanese Christian population, and a mix of other, largely professional Arab Americans. As Dearborn has historically been the entry point for Lebanese Muslims, the initial area for newly arriving Chaldeans has been a cluster of blocks surrounding Seven Mile Road in Detroit, now called Chaldean Town. The area still houses a number of Chaldean-owned businesses and a small population of Chaldean immigrants, but the vast majority of Iraqi Christians have resettled in Southfield, Oak Park, West Bloomfield, Troy, and other suburbs, especially Sterling Heights, home to the nations largest concentration of Chaldeans.”

Map: Eviction Lab tackles Detroit 2016


Matthew Desmond’s Eviction Lab examined eviction rates and poverty rates by census tract in Detroit. Around 2009, evictions were more prominent in Downtown areas with more high-rise apartments, but now it seems to have followed population movement to outer neighborhoods.


Map: Detroit Greenways 50 Year Plan


The Detroit Greenways Coalition wants to “Envision Detroit as the Greenways Capital” of the world.

Fifty years may seem like a long time away, but with the rapidly increasing development of bicycle infrastructure across Detroit we need to set the table for the future. This report provides ideas and designs that can be incorporated into today’s projects such as the Inner Circle Greenway and the protected bike lane network.  An important role of the Detroit Greenway Coalition is to be the keeper and advocate for this long-term vision.

Map: Fast Food Industry in Detroit 2017

Screen Shot 2018-06-01 at 8.20.17 AMDetroit’s #2 food industry by revenue is fast food. Detroit has local chains on top of national brands. We are home to and/or birthplace of 5 different pizza companies (Little Caesar’s, Domino’s, Buddy’s, Papa’s, Happy’s). Coney Island may not completely fit into the fast food category, but accounts for a high amount of carryout food in Detroit and gets it’s own special category.

What this map doesn’t show are all the other non-chain fast casual and carryout locations in Detroit.

Read more in the full 2017 Detroit Food Metrics Report here.

Map: Fantasy Detroit Subway


This transit fantasy map comes from Mike Weiss who modeled it after the Chicago “L.” Although Detroit had scrapped plans for a subway, the rapid transit planners generally recommended an elevated rail like Chicago’s based on Detroit’s size and dispersed population.

“By using a population density map, I mapped corridors to connect the highest density areas and areas where the lack of density could spur development. Then, using my knowledge of rail transit planning, I planned routes that could operate efficiently end-to-end and where connections between them made the most sense.”

HT @DailyDetroit

Map: Spatial Access to Detroit Grocery Stores 2017

Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 9.42.29 AM.png

I had the pleasure of working with the Detroit Food Policy Council (DFPC) to produce their annual report and pull together some key metrics on the City’s food system. You can read the full report here.

This map in particular is crucial to understanding spatial access to Detroit grocery and the data and policy lag from Federal agencies. They were unable to account for the opening of the second Meijer on Grand River and the reopening of Parkway Foods on E. Jefferson.

More from the report:

The USDA’s 2015 “food desert” designated areas are based on national retail databases that have been shown to undercount Detroit assets.

Looking at areas of green and orange that overlap in the map to the left highlights the mismatch in federal food policy in Detroit’s city context.

These maps only look to assessments within Detroit’s city limits. Many border areas of Detroit are served by grocers in nearby cities.

Map of Detroit and Windsor 1731


This map was shared by MSU Map Library from the American Indian Historic Collection. It provides a rare glimpse of the “Grand Marais” French for Great Marsh across from Belle Isle. Detroit at this point is simply Fort Pontchartrain next to the soon to be displaced Native American Huron encampment.

Map: Detroit’s Parking District


The incremental creep of car culture in Detroit has been welldocumented with the plethora of parking garages and surface lots as opposed to retail and high-rises.

The most egregious visuals of the ills of parking come via the Ilitch property [parking] empire. Not too long ago there were acres of gravel lots where Pizzarena now stands. In the build up to the arena construction in the newly dubbed “Entertainment District” now branded as “The District Detroit” (anyone remember Tigertown?) it seems the biggest boom has been in parking garages with 3 newly constructed even before the arena opened.

Within the Ilitches newly defined “neighborhoods” parking plays a significant role especially when some of those neighborhoods are merely locations for entertainment adjacent to parking options.

Total Acres Parking Acres Percent
Cass Park Village 72.5 8.9 12%
Wildcat Corner 63 13.13 21%
Woodward Square 39.3 2.93 07%
Columbia Street 10.8 1.02 09%
Columbia Park 35.1 14.51 41%

In many of these areas you will be entertained solely by a walk between stadiums and parking, in Wildcat Corner, the stadiums and parking lots take up 70% of the total acreage. Most notably Columbia Park is nearly half surface parking lots. It’s unclear if those will be new development opportunities or simply parking revenue as the Ilitches have paved and gated these parking lots when before they were simply gravel.

Event: Mappy Hour – Bike Maps


Mappy Hour is back! There is now an official group and this is the official Detroit launch!

We will be learning all about Detroit Greenways Coalition- an organization that provides a collective voice for greenway planning, development and maintenance throughout Detroit.

RSVP on Facebook


Graphic design by Hayley Roberts

Map: Detroit News Circulation Districts 1941

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 4.35.52 PM.png

Back in the day, 1941 and subsequent years, the Detroit News conducted some fairly comprehensive household market research surveys. In 1941, they conducted a “scientific cross-sectional study of 12,902 homes in the Detroit City zone made by the Hooper-Holmes Bureau-Division of Market Research in the Winter of 1940-1941. Every 40th home surveyed.”

Some interesting quick stats:

  • 53.1% owned their own home
  • 45.3% of homes did not have a telephone
  • 21.8% of homes used ice for refrigeration
  • 26.8% of homes do not own an automobile

Map: Downtown Detroit Trash Cans for Tigers Opening Day


Within 400ft of Comerica Park there are at least 4 trash cans.

Within a quarter (0.25) mile, there are at least 44 trash cans.

Within a half (0.50) mile, there are at least 81 trash cans.

Before Tigers Opening Day, please identify your closest trash can for refuse disposal.

Every Tigers Opening Day, trash becomes a hot button topic as fans swarm the City of Detroit for some fun and revelry. Trash is wantonly thrown about, people urinate in parking lots, and the aftermath is often on par with a tornado – for no reason.

The data is limited and I know there are even more available trash cans in Midtown and Eastern Market. Hopefully they will get put to good use on Opening Day.

Map: Sanborn Fire Insurance 1929 – 1949

Screen Shot 2018-03-14 at 9.30.39 AM.png

There’s nothing particularly interesting about this map included in the top left corner of the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps from the Library of Congress. What stood out most to me is that new maps have been pasted over top as updates.

Screen Shot 2018-03-14 at 9.38.05 AM.png

The attached “Correction Record” includes dates from 1944 through 1949 when updates were physically attached to the map. Today we have digital change logs and version control. Sometimes those new digital systems work and sometimes I feel like we still need to print out every version of a document or map in order to ensure changes aren’t forgotten.

Workshop: Data, Mapping, and Research Justice


I’ll be teaching my workshop on data and mapping again this April 2018 with Co.Open/Allied Media Projects.

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 (QGIS, LibreOffice, Inkscape, etc.).

Check out some of the past course projects:

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

Sign up! HERE


Map: Imagining the Riverfront 1970

This multi-page fold-out map of the full Detroit riverfront is from “Detroit 1990: an Urban Design Concept for the Inner City” from the Department of City Planning. It seems as though the current riverfront planning follows the vein of these plans imagined back in 1970.

“As intolerable as pollution are the barriers that divide River and city. A new order must evolve. The River must be made pat of the city, part of the life of people. And the key to this revolution lies in the accessibility of the edge.

The design proposes a continuous pedestrian way that exposes the rich variety of activity of the waterfront, a path that would be a dynamic link of the River and city, working like the River itself to bring the people and activities of a river city together. The excitement of ports, the large cranes, the ships calling from Sweden, Japan would be as much a part of the patterns of the city as the busy parks of the Cultural Center.

Event: How to critically Read Maps

How to Read Maps(3)

Maps shouldn’t be all that hard to read, but sometimes there is so much data and information packed into them we miss the little details that can reveal a lot about the politics or biases of maps. Maps are an engaging way to visualize data and gain knowledge, but need to be viewed with a critical eye.

Participants will be lead through a discussion on the history and creation of maps. Following the discussion, participants will get to use their new critical map reading skills to examine historic and current maps. Materials will be provided.

WHEN: Tuesday, February 20th @ 5:30PM

WHERE: Detroit Center for Design + Technology

WHAT: Event Link



Map: Census 2020 Detroit Hard to Count Areas

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 4.43.17 PM

Within the entire State of Michigan, Detroit stands out as a cluster of areas considered “hard to count” by Census standards. Typically a Census questionnaire is mailed to each household, but when there is no response the Census Bureau sends someone in-person to these households.

“For the purpose of this map, a census tract is considered hard-to-count (HTC) if its self-response rate in the 2010 decennial census was 73% or less. If 73% or fewer of the tract’s households that received a census questionnaire mailed it back to the Census Bureau, it is shaded in light orange-to-dark red as a hard-to-count tract on the map.”

Census data is used to make big decisions on federal funding allocations as well as political representation. If an area is improperly counted, then people will lose access to considerable resources.

In May 2017, the Director of the Census Bureau resigned after it became clear that Republicans were going to gut the budget for Census 2020 which had planned to go online. Data shows internet connectivity is lacking across Detroit. If an underfunded Census moves forward and relies heavily on online surveying, much of Detroit will be left uncounted and will remain unresourced as a result. This should be a warning for anyone hoping to implement an online heavy approach to engaging Detroit residents.

Map: Little Caesar’s Pizza Geography 2017


I remember running community service projects on weekends in Detroit around 2009 and not being able to find a spot to buy some hot-n-readys for volunteers anywhere.

It seems since then, Little Caesar’s has upped its franchise game to cover most areas of the city, but there are still Little Caesar’s pizza gaps that are filled by Happy’s Pizza (12), Papa’s (11), Domino’s (8), and Buddy’s (2) with a handful of standalone pizza joints.

Map: Data Conundrums with ZIP Codes and Council Districts in Detroit


Defining geographies is difficult, especially when politics are involved. In 2009, the idea of Districts was passed on its own through City Council. In 2012, Detroit changed its City Charter and City Council elections to be based on the geographic Council District. There was intense debate about how Downtown would be divided and lines were drawn along specific city blocks.

The downside is that data doesn’t exist for Council Districts unless it is specificaly collected at the block level, which is only every 10 years by the Census Bureau. The majority of available data is at Census Tract or Zip Code level, both of which have no relation to the local political geography.

A data conundrum.

Map: The Secret Running Lives of Detroit Auto Workers

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 9.51.57 PM.png

The recent launch of the Strava Global Heatmap has unleashed a storm of revelations about secret military bases and digital security and privacy concerns of US military personnel. In Detroit the story is mostly the same as it always has been: no one is (EDIT 01/30/18) not many people are running in neighborhoods outside of Downtown or the 7.2 square miles of “Greater Downtown.” Running redlining?

Grandmont-Rosedale jumped out at me as well as Hamtramck as their own insulated running districts of Detroit. However, I was quite surprised to find the secret lives of auto industry workplace wellness champions!

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 10.02.46 PM

The Jefferson Assembly Plant really stood out as the only Eastside highlight. The GM Hamtramck Assembly Plant didn’t highlight as it appears more people prefer to run around the plant than actually at the plant.

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 10.07.39 PM

Someone is taking regular jogs around the parking lot at the American Axle World Headquarters.

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 10.11.59 PM

Detroit Diesel also has a well worn path around its outer bounds.

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 10.02.23 PM.png

Similarly, the lots outside the Dearborn Truck Plant (DTP) at the Ford Rouge Plant seem to be getting regular use as a running loop.

Map: Detroit Parks Public Input 2015


The recent, “2017 Parks and Recreation Improvement Plan” included a great deal of community engagement to garner feedback and input from residents.

Public input was measured on a one-to-three scale based on the dot map exercise from public meetings. Residents were asked to prioritize up to three parks in their city council district. If a park received no dots, it was scored with a “0”, 1 dot with a “1”, 2 dots with a “2”, and 3 or more dots with a “3”. These rankings were then converted to a 1-5 scale.