Map: Detroit School Board Regions 1971-1972

This map comes from the Toni Swanger Papers in the Reuther Library and Archives. The school board regions are no longer used and the membership is much smaller.

An active member of the Detroit women’s rights movement, journalist Toni Swanger worked with the Detroit Women’s Radio Workshop on programming for the Detroit public radio station WDET, and served in various roles for Detroit newspaper, Metro Times, including production manager and managing editor.

Map: Detroit’s Child Care Desert 2018

The “desert” metaphor is really overdone (and hardly accurate), but Detroit does have a significant gap in childcare opportunities. The Center for American Progress (CAP) and University of Minnesota developed a series of maps to drilldown on the issue with features for Milwaukee, San Jose, and Detroit.

Map: Detroit Youth Not Enrolled and Not High School Graduates 2000

The current pandemic and school reopenings reminded me of an earlier map metric called “disconnected youth.” The WSU Center for Urban Studies mapped the metric in 2002 by “subcommunities” based on the 2000 Census. I expect the numbers will only get worse following 2020 and beyond.

Map: Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Detroit 2020

  • There aren’t many places to charge your electric vehicle outside of the 7.2 square miles of “Greater Downtown.” I’ve seen a few electric cars here and there charging at home garages across the city, but if you’re looking for infrastructure – good luck. DTE notes that data comes from Alternative Fuel Data Center, although many of the charging stations are the DTE corporate sites in Detroit.

Map: Detroit State Fairgrounds Concept vs. Reality

These images stood out to me as stark contrasts from where a community vision wants to see development go compared to what the powers that be are capable of imagining.

The State Fairgrounds Development Coalition (SFDC) has a vibrant plan of mixed commerical/residential, a burgeoning alternative energy and tech center that connects to a high school and middle school, an extensive green park, all of which surround a new space to hold conventions and gatherings.

The currently proposed plan with City government, besides its immediate drab color choices and appearance, doesn’t show much beyond a warehouse and parking lot with a few pockets of undefined development. The primary draw is a new transit center that is quite limited and imagines no future multi-modal connections with nearby rail.

Map: Southwest Detroit Truck Route Study 2019

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The City of Detroit DPW with Giffels-Webster has embarked on assessing truck routes, specifically within Southwest Detroit where truck traffic is heaviest due to transportation hubs and the current international bridge.

Find other study updates from DPW here:

Map: Detroit Basement Flooding Mitigation 1947

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This map from the Reuther Library and Archives shows a contracted program by the Public Works Department with the goal of mitigating basement flooding by updating sewer systems in 1947.

I hope the effort worked in 1947 because the city hasn’t seen such a large investment in infrastructure since as evidenced by the recent and regular flooding.

Map: Detroit Immunization Rates in 2018

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Overall immunization rates at schools help reduce the spread of diseases that can be deadly, including measles, polio, measles, mumps, chicken pox, whooping cough, diptheria, and HPV. Everyone needs vaccines in order to protect family and community health. Vaccines don’t just protect children, but also those who are elderly and immune-compromised, newborns, and teenagers.

Check out rates across Detroit and at specific schools. Interactive version here.

Map: Population Change in the Detroit Region 1960-1968

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The University of Michigan at Dearborn used to have a Center for Urban Studies that completed some of the largest and most comprehensive Transportation and Land Use Study (TALUS). As part of that study their research team tracked population change and modeled population growth to the year 2000.

Map: Open Streets Detroit 2020


In 2017, the City of Detroit and partners were funded by the Knight Foundation to test out the “Open Streets” campaign in Detroit. The effort resulted in a well-branded annual event that took over a 4 mile stretch along Michigan Avenue from Campus Martius and taking Vernor Hwy to Livernois on Saturday mornings (I don’t count the event in Rouge Park).

Cities across the world are now rethinking roadways, how to manage increased bicycle traffic, and ways to making walking and dining safer by permitting more space for those activities than for cars. Great ideas! However, Detroit is still a bit slow on the adoption of more people-centered street configurations. Sure most of the city could be argued as “open streets” due to low population densities and minimal car traffic, but that doesn’t show any commitment by local government to serve the needs of people.

Through its “Detroit Means Business” COVID-19 strategy the City solicited application for expanded dining patios and potential areas for “open streets” (in some cases alleys). They should have just used Aaron Mondry’s crowd-sourced list from Curbed Detroit – some match perfectly. Various festivals in Detroit regularly close certain streets as well that could exist as continuous pedestrian routes as well, somewhat like Pallister Street in New Center. My two pitches are for Cass Avenue to be bus and bike only and for Second Avenue to exist as a car-free greenway from Downtown to New Center.

“Open Streets” to date have been strategically timed and contained. The map shows that these tend to be in a very small area of the city associated with the 7.2 square mile “Greater Downtown,” but there are numerous examples where this kind of planning could benefit neighborhoods outside of Downtown. An “open street” for every neighborhood!

Shout out to Transit Guide: Detroit (Dave Gifford), Detroit Traffic Management and Control, and Erika Linenfelser for sharing information not found on any city website.

Map: Health Care Professionals in Detroit 1972

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In his 1974 dissertation at Michigan State University, Deirn John Geard was examining poverty in the city. Part of his work included exploring health care professionals in subcommunities across the city. He was able to pull the data from the phone book in order to count available MD, DO, and Dentists.


Map: Particle Suspension Concentrations in Detroit 1974 – 1981

This map was included in the 1982 environmental impact statement for the Near East Riverfront, which I believe was in part only just redeveloped as “Orleans Landing.”

The map stood out to me not only for the dispersion of particulate matter over the years showing reductions over time, but also because the source was the Wayne County Health Department’s Air Pollution Control Division. The Air Pollution Control Division no longer exists.

Map: Chain Supermarkets in Metro Detroit 2020

I’ve mapped the empty business rings of Detroit before, but my personal interest and research is in food access. While chain supermarkets are not the shining beacon of hope, they are the preferred food shopping location for the majority of Detroit residents even with almost 70 independent local grocers.

Kroger and Walmart are the leading locations to buy groceries by Detroiters, but none are located within the city limits. The Walmart bus shuttles seniors from every corner of the city on a weekly basis.

I was interviewed for this CNN piece on the topic. Read more: How the rise of supermarkets left out black America

Map: Detroit Population Density 1990

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People per square mile in 1990 looked quite different than today. The city population was still over one million people and dense clusters of people are now where high rates of vacancy highlight. Current population density has continued to move further to the edges of the city border to the East and Northwest.

Map: Detroit Protests 2020


Over the last 14 days, protestors in Detroit have marched a collective 74 miles through Corktown, Southwest, Downtown, Midtown, Virginia Park, New Center, Islandview, and deep into the Eastside.

Protestors are demanding justice for George Floyd and the numerous other Black Americans who have died or faced brutality at the hands of police. The structural violence of expanded video surveillance, rampant foreclosures, unfettered evictions, and broad disinvestment in Black neighborhoods has also been a focal point of protestors demands delivered to the Mayor.

In the early days, marches were met with an intense and often brutal police response with full riot gear and tear gas. Clashes have been driven by police responding to the defined curfew which led to mass arrests until the Police Chief declared he would no longer enforce the curfew. Marches following this declaration saw no clashes and always ended peacefully. Marches have pulled on Detroit’s long history of police brutality which served as the spark for the 1967 rebellion.

A regular group has been convened at the Detroit Public Safety Headquarters (DPSH) each day at 4pm ranging from 100 to 1,000 people. There have been other marches organized like one along the Dequindre Cut, DPSCD’s march from King High School to Spirit Plaza, and more recently a shutdown of both sides of 8 Mile Road.