Detroit has a history of upstart coworking spaces before any corporate chains like WeWork arrived. That trend has continued even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Curbed has noted that commercial real estate appears to be investing heavily in a future coworking boom. Maybe they are right as traditional office spaces close, move to full-time remote, or adopt a coworking attitude all together (although many workplaces are not even considering continuing remote work or are planning for a mandated 3 days in the office).
There are 25 coworking spaces open in Detroit, including 5 new spaces since our last update in 2019. I’ve been tracking the coworking boom since 2014 when Detroit had 22 sites offering coworking. Downtown and Techtown remain the hot areas with a third WeWork location open on Cass Ave. Costs increased in 2017, stabilized in 2019, and for 2021 seem to be hanging on for the future boom.
The purple on this map is really unique. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a historic map that used purple as it’s primary print color.
There is almost too much history in this map to note, but important to note is the location of Union Depot near the western Downtown riverfront. My interest in health system history makes me notice all the hospital as markers of place along with cemeteries.
The myth of wild packs of dogs in Detroit seems to come up again and again, but is hardly true (there are definitely stray dogs that are not safe).
Many Detroiters have dogs as pets and thanks to our friends at Canine to Five we explored the most common dog names by ZIP code in the city. If you meet a dog that you don’t know try saying, “Hi Bella” or Bear or Coco or Max.
The Census Areas of the 1970s show “Area K” that is mentioned often by urban planners and newspapers as “the heart of the slums.” It was the area of Black Bottom and Paradise Valley, of targeted slum clearance and predominantly Black Americans restricted from living in other areas of the city. The area has held the “K” letter since at least 1955 if not earlier.
COVID-19 has laid bare all of the systemic health inequities across the country, but also very specifically in Detroit.
Local public health systems including governmental health departments and health care providers are key to building public trust on an every day basis. In places where the local public health system has broken down, it is no surprise to see low levels of trust and low rates of vaccine uptake.
Detroit is likely an extreme example where the city’s largest health system almost shuttered its doors in the early 2000s before getting a monetary grant from the State government. Detroit has operated its own city health department on par with a county government since the 1970s, but decided to push provision of health services to an unproven non-profit in 2012 after a series of federal investigations that began in 2010.
The current health department was only just relaunched in 2015 and at best could be described as a “startup.” Detroit’s other hurdle is that roughly 70% of the population lives in a medically underserved area and almost 20% haven’t seen a doctor in over a year (MiBRFSS 2017-2019). COVID-19 vaccination rates remain low in Detroit at around 30%, however mass vaccination sites, mobile health vans, and tent style health clinics are not an ideal entry point to build trust in a local public health system that hasn’t been there for residents in over a decade. The issue in Detroit is not vaccine hesitancy, but the absence of a local public health system that will serve people well on a regular basis.
This hand drawn map by M. Saffell Gardner is a part of a series of hand drawn maps in a Volume 2 of Detroit Research Journal. The map is part of the “Drawing Detroit” series which aims to collect personal and hand drawn maps of Detroit.
Detroit has 82 coffee shops. Since 2019, 16 new shops opened and 13 closed. During the COVID-19 pandemic, 11 coffee shops temporarily closed and 8 have reopened, at least for takeout.
Since 2015 Detroit has had a net gain of 28 coffee shops. A number of new community coffee shops launched during the pandemic including Black Coffee in the Northend, Milwaukee Caffe in Milwaukee Junction, The Congregation, Gathering Co., Public Square in Grandmont-Rosedale, Morningside Cafe in Morningside, Yellow Light in Jefferson Chalmers, and Cafe Alto in the former New Order Coffee spot in Midtown.
New Order Coffee (in former Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe space) abandoned the city to focus on their Royal Oak location and tears were shed when Avalon Biscuit Bar closed permanently (at the former Cafe con Leche spot).
After Coffee and (____) closed in Jefferson-Chalmers it seemed that beyond West Village, the Eastside would be uncaffeinated. Now in 2021, there are so many new options including a border line Starbucks. The Eastside and the “Heart of Detroit” and Northend seem to be the current hot zones for coffee. Downtown and Midtown are already so dense with coffee that perhaps development is making its way northward. Is New Center getting leap frogged? Coffee has had a hard time sticking with Cafe con Leche closing before the Avalon Biscuit Bar at the same spot.
Detroit needs a lot more trees. It’s no mystery that Detroit has been hit by deindustrialization and population loss on top of Dutch Elm disease leaving many trees either dead, dying, or left uncared for along city streets. I’ve previously looked at tree canopy disparities and posted about the dangers of heat islands and the absence of green space in a city.
Recent City of Detroit efforts to increase street trees are doing a little, but replanting an urban forest is no small feat. The economic, climate, and public health benefits would be immense if Detroit can add more trees in neighborhoods that need them.
Detroit’s street design with its hub-and-spoke pattern Downtown are often attributed to Western men with grand idea after Detroit’s “Great Fire of 1805.” The story goes that they imagined Detroit in the image of Paris or Washington D.C. – but in reality Detroit’s unique radial streets come from the pathways created by indigenous peoples living on this land before any Frenchman arrived.
I made this hand drawn map as part of the “Drawing Detroit” series which aims to collect personal and hand drawn maps of Detroit. This map was published in Volume 2 of Detroit Research Journal.
In 2015, I was thinking introspectively about the spaces that I inhabited in Detroit especially as it related to race. As a young, white man I had lived in a handful of “islands of privilege” in the city – and this map was my exploration of those islands and their disconnect to the larger city.
The federal government’s General Accounting Office (GAO) produced a report on Detroit’s “Central Industrial Park” for what would become known as the Poletown Plant or the Dodge-Hamtramck Assembly, Dodge Main, and now referred to as Factory Zero.
The “Poletown Community” was defined in this report as all of the City of Hamtramck and a significant section of Detroit south of Hamtramck. The project eventually relocated 4,200 people and 1,400 homes. The remnant of the area lives on in the “Poletown East” neighborhood area defined by the City of Detroit.
The issue of open library branches has been on-going since the COIVD-19 pandemic started. For over a year now, only 6 library branches have been open and there isn’t any expected change for Summer 2021.
I was concerned that closed Library branches meant that children wouldn’t have access over the summer let alone during the school year. I was pleasantly surprised that the branches still open largely fall within areas with high numbers of children. Notably, the Knapp branch near Hamtramck would serve an area with a significant number of children.
Libraries have been a community home base for many residents where they can read, use internet, and connect with what is happening. In a city with a significant digital divide and an overall low level of connectivity across the city (door-to-door outreach is the baseline) we have to keep our branches open and expand what they can offer.
One of the few maps (maybe the only map) of vacant land in the 1970s in Detroit came from the Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) assessment of their inability to maintain their growing inventory of properties and land. This map was produced by the Detroit News for a series of stories on HUD’s Detroit inventory.
This map shows there were 4,763 vacant lots owned by HUD which gives a rough sense of where there may have been more Farm-a-Lot programming.
The ground has been broken! The multi-year effort to both develop and secure land to make the Joe Louis Greenway (JLG) a reality is on the move. The JLG 27.5 mile loop hopes to be completed within 5 years and in the process connect neighborhoods across Detroit as well as Highland Park and Hamtramck.
This hand drawn map by Clara DeGalan is a part of a series of hand drawn maps in a Volume 2 of Detroit Research Journal. The map is part of the “Drawing Detroit” series which aims to collect personal and hand drawn maps of Detroit.
There was no Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) in 1943. That would take another 6 years for the existing Wayne County airport to add three more runways and pull air traffic away from Detroit City Airport. This map comes from the “south Detroit” side of things. Windsor was exploring a new international airport that would take up nearly half the city.
This hand drawn map by ‘jide Aje is a part of a series of hand drawn maps in a Volume 2 of Detroit Research Journal. The map is part of the “Drawing Detroit” series which aims to collect personal and hand drawn maps of Detroit.
The M1 Rail project has been in the urban mass transit imagination since at least 1979. This map comes from a joint report led by the Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority (SEMTA), from which SMART would form in future years, and the USDOT Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA).
The report also explored the Downtown People Mover (DPM) option, which seems to be the only project option that was funded.
I was fascinated to see that this plan called for the M1 light rail to be subsurface (subway) from Jefferson Ave to Grand Boulevard and then aerial, like the People Mover, from Grand Blvd. to McNichols before functioning at-grade at the street level.
This is a digitally recreated map of the Black Bottom neighborhood as it was in 1951 by Emily Kutil, the creator of Black Bottom Street View. The map was compiled in 2018 from Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps.
Where did you find/acquire the map?
Black Bottom Archives, an organization I am the director & co-founder of, printed these maps in a limited edition way as a way to fundraise.
What made you hang it on your wall? What stood out to you? What details do you enjoy about the map?
Black Bottom is such an important part of my work and I love having the reminder of this significant neighborhood in my home and seeing it everyday. I got a custom framing job done at Eric’s I’ve Been Framed on Livernois and he helped me find a frame that matched the tones of the map and made it look so lovely I couldn’t help but hang it up! The details I love are that there are a few important community spaces that are marked on the map. And, because it was made from fire insurance maps, you can also see what kind of materials the different structures were made of, which tells a bit of its own story in the conditions of the neighborhood at the time.
What in your background has drawn you to maps?
I am a lover of history and maps tell so many stories. With Black Bottom being such a focal point of my work, I am always drawn to maps that seek to define the boundaries of the neighborhood. From the elders I’ve talked to, I know that how far east and west and north the neighborhood actually went is something that there are a variety of opinions about. I know if different people were to have created this map and it would have looked differently, and that is so compelling to me. Maps have always been a way of understanding someone’s perspective and connection to the place they’re documenting.
Vegetative and tree buffers have been discussed as methods to reduce climate and air pollution impacts. Much of the effect requires full growth trees and multi-level vegetation.
The City of Detroit launched a 10,000 street trees effort a few years ago and had some difficulty with residential adoption of street trees.
As a City government, Detroit has the opportunity to show it is a “good neighbor” and plant street trees on properties owned by the city, city departmental properties, and parks. There are over 900 acres of land owned or controlled by the City government within 250 feet of expressways that could be utilized for tree buffer style plantings.
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