Map: Metro Detroit CO2 Emissions Footprint

The New York Times mapped tons of CO2 emissions per household for large cities across the country. In many cases the cities themselves were relatively low in CO2 emissions by households, but wealthier suburbs surrounding suburbs had extremely elevated rates of CO2 emissions based on home purchases, vacation travel, and energy costs.

Map: The Geography of Home Improvement 2023

In the spirit of the new year, I’ve mapped out locations where you can purchase home improvement supplies. It is important to note that there are very few national retailers located in Detroit, so as with many retail categories, home improvement and hardware options are very local and many have been around for decades. There is only one national hardware retailer, Home Depot, on W. 7 Mile Road and Meyers. Detroit housing has many quirks and specific needs as well, so you can find a number of specialty plumbers for those odd shaped fittings and more.

Plumbing retailers are somewhat distributed across the city, but paint specific stores are only in a few areas while general hardware stores exist in every corner of the city.

Cartographer Chat with Matzwart and making the Hostel Detroit Map

What is your map

Detroit Detour City Map 2018 for Hostel Detroit.

How did you come to make this map? What’s the story?

Since 2015 I’ve made several maps for the Rotterdam hostel Ani&Haakien and these maps grapped the attention of the nice people running Hostel Detroit. They contacted me through social media and we were able to make a deal where I could stay in the hostel for free for three weeks and get some dollars for food. This way I was able to work for a few hours a day and still have enough time to enjoy and explore the city, party a little bit and get inspiration to work on the map the next day.

What are you most proud of in the map? What stood out to you? What details do you enjoy about the map?

Of all the maps I made Detroit was definitely the biggest and most challenging one. It’s also the only one where I had the opportunity to use both sides of the paper which allowed me to make a zoom-in of the city center and highlight some of the cool places with little isometric illustrations.

What in your background has drawn you to maps?

I’ve always preferred exploring big cities above laying on the beach all day getting burned. Visiting these places I often stayed in hostels where I found maps that were interesting to me being a graphic designer/illustrator. Making maps forces you to work very precise but also leaves place to get creative and leave your own signature. Every big city has a different vibe that I try to incorporate in the project.

Map: Vaccine Deserts of Metro Detroit 2021

A recent journal article puts some analysis behind my observation in March 2021 that vaccine distribution sites were not equitably chosen or distributed to best serve Detroiters. I observed that vaccine sites reflected the historical and ongoing “retail redlining” where corporate retailers avoid predominantly Black neighborhoods and cities. (See also historical blue-lining)

The authors write:

[…] we find notable racial disparities in the organization of vaccine distribution in both locations. We find census tracts with a higher proportion of Black residents were served by noticeably fewer vaccine distribution sites compared to nearby tracts with fewer black residents in both Detroit (38% less, Fig. 4a) and Chicago (28% less, Fig. 4b).

This inequity was not a new phenomena, but one that was seen repeated in four Texas counties and early vaccine tracking in Chicago.

Map: Changes in Detroit Pedestrian Bridge Safety Ratings 2015 to 2022

Pedestrian bridges and overall walkability infrastructure in Detroit is suffering even with new investment in a $27 million bridge, street repaving, speed humps installation, and streetscape improvements. Our collaborative research from 2016 gained popularity after a man fell through the collapsing concrete of the Spruce Street pedestrian bridge.

A team of WSU students surveyed all 71 pedestrian bridges in 2015, today there are 59 pedestrian bridges: 10 demolished, 3 closed, 1 not included in the MDOT dataset. The extensive construction for the new international bridge crossing has meant the removal of pedestrian bridges along I-75 as well as the widening of I-94. Many of those bridges were deemed unacceptable in 2015, but the resulting loss of access is significant to the communities nearby.

This map specifically shows where bridge ratings have gotten worse. The majority of I-94 pedestrian bridges are just continuing to fall into disrepair with no clear plans from MDOT for investment or improvement. Most concerning are the closures of pedestrian bridges near Detroit’s core. Access to amenities and jobs are critical when as many as 25% of Detroiters don’t have access to a car. A large number of bridges slipped into the orange category, just a few data points away from being too dangerous.

Map: Detroit Property Home Values Assessed vs. Average 2022

As a member of the Coalition for Property Tax Justice, which has been organizing against the $600 million overassessment of property values in Detroit that drove much of the tax foreclosure crisis, ReGrid (Loveland) created the Detroit Assessment Gauge tool. The tool compares the assessed value to the average property value from the US Census. The tool is meant to help homeowners check if they may have been overassessed.

Outlier Media reported:

A recently published audit performed by an independent accounting firm hired by the city found mismanagement and little to no standards at Detroit’s Assessor’s Office during those years.

Map: Single Fare Zones in Detroit 1916

The concentric circles on this map caught my eye accompanied by an odd jagged edge. In 1916, Detroit was much smaller in size than it is today. The 1916 boundary line would fall roughly within this map, but that’s not what the outer boundary line represents here.

This map was one of 15 included in an infographic in volume 48, page 222 of the Electric Railway Journal. Detroit was included among Boston, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. along with Buffalo, Milwaukee, and Kansas City. The circles represent miles distance from the “traffic center” or the city.

Map: Detroit Vacant School Building Risk Index 2020

In 2020, the City of Detroit conducted a one-year study of vacant school buildings in collaboration with Interboro Partners, WJE, and BJH Advisors. In all 39 school buildings owned by the City were assessed along with 24 other buildings owned by DPSCD. The project was dubbed, “After School Detroit” not to be confused with actual after-school programming for children:

“The team observed the condition of the buildings inside and out, and took photos, measurements, and notes to document each space. The team also studied the characteristics of the surrounding neighborhoods, the local real estate market, and the historical significance of each school. The goal of the project was to explore the possibility of reusing historic vacant school buildings and to imagine new futures for these special places.”

Map: Where are People vs. Jobs in Detroit?

In Detroit, the spatial mismatch of people to jobs and opportunity is stark. It gets all the more stark when just 30% of available jobs in Detroit are held by Detroiters (Census Bureau, LEHD). The healthcare, education, and government sectors anchor Detroit employment which is why Detroit’s three main hospital zones highlight with jobs: in Greater Downtown with the Detroit Medical Center in Midtown along with Wayne State University, in Northwest Detroit where Sinai-Grace is located, and along the Eastside border with St. John’s Hospital and a number of skilled nursing facilities.

The Opportunity Index by Kirwan Institute showed this same mismatch nearly a decade ago and included an update for the Kresge Foundation. Opportunity had improved in Greater Downtown and worsened in Detroit’s neighborhoods between 2000 and 2010. The more recent Opportunity Atlas from Opportunity Insights, Harvard, and Brown Universities built off of Raj Chetty’s research into: “Which neighborhoods in America offer children the best chance to rise out of poverty?

I also made this map because sometimes we think we have a good grasp on the geographic distribution of people or jobs or pheasants in Detroit, but I always need to see the data on a map to be sure.

Map: Elevated Blood Lead Levels and DLBA Home Sales

Lead poisoning has been a significant issue in Detroit for decades and well before the Flint water crisis because Detroit is full of old housing that has not been maintained or upgraded due to a confluence of job loss and economic austerity. While I worked at the Detroit Health Department, the question of what to do about lead poisoning was constant and always underfunded (Lead Report 2016). I led the Demolitions and Health Taskforce until it was disbanded as well where we found clustered and repeated demolition exposure was highly likely to be elevating blood lead levels of children.

It was as if lead poisoning was too well known and not known enough all at the same time. Our lead advocates and nurses always had a massive case load of children to follow-up with and never had enough time or staff to reach everyone. Some colleagues and I wondered if the tax foreclosure pipeline was a contributing factor to unsafe housing being snapped up by slumlords. We titled out findings ‘Toxic Structures” and found that investor ownership through property speculation meant a greater risk of childhood lead exposure.

The recent reporting from Outlier Media on the 13,300 home sales from the Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA) auctions and “own it now” program are alarming. Most homes are sold as-is with no lead remediation whatsoever. Some of the largest clusters of these home sales are in the ZIP codes with the highest rates of children with lead poisoning. With such a well-known problem, Detroit simply puts its children at greater risk without addressing the need. There is no safe level of lead and these programs that ignore the problem amount to negligence.

Map: Detroit Service Accessibility

This map is based on the “15 minute” city where residents can get to services within a 15 minute walk. In Detroit this was briefly described as 20 minute neighborhoods, but a great deal of internal city administration debate eventually ended the terminology and concept.

As one would expect, Detroit lacks many “services” in its neighborhoods so scores are low outside of Greater Downtown, New Center, and a few pockets around Indian Village and Southwest Detroit. Services, based on OpenStreetMap, explored for this map project included:

  • Public transit stations
  • Parks, stadiums, and gyms
  • Libraries and community centers
  • Restaurants, food trucks, and supermarkets
  • Cinemas, nightclubs, theatres
  • Pharmacies, clinics, hospitals
  • Education facilities

Event: Detroit in 50 Maps at Grosse Pointe Public Library

WHEN: Tuesday, November 1st @ 7pm

WHERE: Grosse Pointe Public Library, Woods Branch

WHAT: Detroit in 50 Maps

New York Times top book of 2021, Wayne State adjunct professor and Geographic Info System Director, Alex Hill deconstructs the Motor City in surprise new ways. Track where new coffee shops and co-working spaces have opened and closed in the last five years. Find the areas with the highest concentrations of pizzerias, Coney Island hot dog shops or ring-necked pheasants.

RSVP: Event Link

Map: Detroit Early Voting Centers 2022

Voting in Detroit is not always easy and hasn’t always been available, like during emergency management. In recent years the city has barely scratched just 21% of registered voters casting a ballot.

The pandemic saw an incredible expansion of ballot drop boxes, early voting, and other tools to increase participation and access to voting for the people who will represent communities. Detroit continues to have a number of early voting centers available as well as ballot drop boxes.

Visit to find your closest location

Map: Where to Find Detroit’s Fall Colors

Detroit once became famous for and known as the “city of trees” with Judge Woodward’s plan for large tree lined boulevards. Grand Circus Park in 1909 looked like a forest. In recent years the city has been more focus on tree removal while nonprofits like Greening of Detroit have been attempting to replant what was lost to pests and the Dutch Elm tree disease.

Irregardless, Detroit still has many wonderful spots to enjoy the fall colors of Michigan’s native tree species. The maple is the easiest to spot with typical red coloring, followed by White Oak in orange and orange-red hues, and lastly a host of golden yellows from Aspen, Birch, Hickory, Coffeetree, and Gingkos. I’m very thankful that Dr. Dakota McCoy and team have created this cleaned up dataset from disparate sources.

The fall beauty does seem to be more easily found in Detroit’s historic and wealthier neighborhoods, but you can also find the fall colors along historic boulevards like Oakman Boulevard and Boston or Edison Avenues. There’s even a stretch of East Jefferson Avenue near Belle Isle with vibrant colors.

The neighborhoods near Detroit’s largest parks have the best viewing. Rouge Park can’t be missed and is a joy to follow the winding roads to view fall colors. Many of the neighborhoods of Northwest Detroit like Grandmont-Rosedale and even further northwest are full of changing color. Bagley, Palmer Woods, and Sherwood Forest are also nice drives for fall color. On the Eastside, East English Village takes the win. The southeast corner of Highland Park has a nice cluster of fall as well as the area south of Caniff and west of Jos Campau in Hamtramck.

Map: Detroit Neighborhoods Game

Did you play the neighborhoods game from Axios? Neighborhood boundaries are always contentious whether they are officially defined or not. What did you think?

  • Boston-Edison is a historic district that functions as a de facto neighborhood
  • Grandmont-Rosedale is arguable a collection of neighborhoods including: Rosedale Park, North Rosedale Park, Grandmont, Grandmont #1, Minock Park, and/or Westwood Park
  • Mexicantown is a bit of a nebulous space that most people associate with restaurants in Southwest Detroit
  • Jefferson Chalmers, named for an intersection and a homeowners association, includes a handful of community groups and block clubs, notably “Chalmers – Best 5 Blocks”
  • Corktown, the city’s oldest neighborhood, has changed a lot over the years with expressway development and baseball stadium updates

Map: Rats of Detroit 2014 – 2022

In the spirit of the spooky season what could be more frightening than encountering a rat in the city? This isn’t New York City after all.

I was reminded of the map showing “regions of rat-bitten babies” from the 1970s that noted over 2 million rats were in Detroit at the time. I’ve heard this was largely due to a trash dump for Canadian trash on the Eastside, but haven’t found much else on the topic. The recent shutdown of Lafayette Coney Island due to rat droppings also made me wonder what our current geography of rats looked like.

Since 2014, there have been 21,990 “Rodent Extermination” requests on the Improve Detroit app. The Buildings, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department (BSEED) is the city government entity over rodents and pests among many other things.

This data may obviously be skewed by who reports on the Improve Detroit app, but the widespread reports from across the city give a good indication that there is broad use. The densest rat regions appear to be in the Grandmont-Rosedale neighborhoods, the Eastside near Pingree Park and Morningside, along with most of District 3.

How does that compare to where you’ve seen rats in Detroit?

Map: Distribution of Population by Nativities by Districts in Detroit 1921

This map was included among many in a journal article published in the American Journal of Public Health by then Department of Health Deputy Health Commissioner, Watson Frank Walker. The article was focused on the relation between health and the environment. At the time the city was in its early growth:

“The city is 79 square miles in area and completely surrounds two municipalities, totaling nearly 100,000 people. It lies along the Detroit River, and is divided almost equally by its principal thorough-fare, Woodward Avenue. The older portion of the city developed around the intersection of Woodward Avenue and the river as a center. The growth has been semi-circular in nature and almost equal in all directions, forming concentric areas of new territories.”

I always find maps of nativity, or place of birth, to be fascinating as Detroit was and is a city of immigrants. Many different groups have made their path through Detroit and into present day suburbs of Detroit. Black Bottom very clearly shows the restricted density of African Americans in city. Polish, Russian, and Austrian-born residents are all coded with the same symbol, but also show a clear grouping near south of Hamtramck.

Map: Change in Detroit’s North End 1961 to 2021

Interstate 75 cut through the eastern side of the North End. Construction began in 1959 and the historic map on the left from 1961 includes a dashed line where the future expressway was going to be built along what was Richmond Ave. The construction of an expressway is hardly a single line on a map however and the present day map on the right demonstrates the amount of destruction required to install an expressway with multiple blocks on either side removed.

This comparison map was made for the Eastern Market After Dark effort for the “North End Pavilion” to honor and support the works and stories of Detroit’s North End Community. Design Core Detroit partnered with Philip Simpson, Donna Jackson, Bryce Detroit, Reshounn Foster, LaDonna Little, the Underground Music Academy and more on the curation of the North End Pavilion.

NOTE: These maps include a boundary of the North End as defined by the project participants.

Map: Detroit High Injury Network Map

The City of Detroit’s “Streets for People” campaign from the Department of Public Works (DPW) has identified the top roadways segments for severe injury from vehicular traffic (Figure 11, Page 23). The report notes that, “Detroit does not have a strong culture of traffic safety.” For major US cities, Detroit ranks #2 in roadways deaths and #3 for pedestrian deaths nationally.

Map: Measuring Segregation in the Detroit Metropolitan Area

There are many different methods to calculate and describe segregation of cities. Detroit is regularly noted as one of the most segregated cities, but what is often left out is the regional context or the fact that the data calculation of segregation requires comparison to regional data. The Othering and Belonging Institute (OBI) has put together both an excellent interactive tool and a useful technical appendix.

The Dissimilarity Index is the most commonly used index, but only displays dissimilarity between two racial groups at a time. The Divergence Index (A) is preferred by OBI because it compares the relative proportions of racial groups at various geographies. Isolation and Exposure Indices (B) help us observe the degree of racial residential segregation experienced by different racial groups, but again can only indicate the exposure of one group to another. The Entropy Score (D) best demonstrates racial and ethnic diversity within a given geography. It is becoming more frequently used to describe segregation, but does not actual measure segregation.