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Map: Where is the Heart of Detroit?

DETROITography

The “heart of Detroit” is a common marketing shtick attempting to show the importance and purported hip-ness of a given location. Sometimes that location is a new development and other times it is a historic place marker.

heart-of-detroit-headlines

Thanks to Aaron Foley’s 2012 Mlive article on this very topic and some more recent google searches, there is nice list of locations assumed to be the “heart of Detroit” and with wide geographic variation.

“My inner cartographer wants the “heart” of the city to be the Dexter/Davison/Linwood near Central High School, which is, uh, central to almost everywhere in the city.” – Aaron Foley

heart-detroit-locationsHeart of Detroit:

  • Midtown
  • Downtown
  • Capital Park
  • Barry Subdivision
  • Belle Isle
  • Central High School
  • W. Grand Blvd.
  • Linwood and Gladstone
  • Diack Park/Playground
  • New Center
  • Corktown
  • Brush Park
  • Woodbridge

Anyone can claim the “heart of Detroit,” but how can we determine the true “heart” or center? Mathematically we…

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Map: Languages Spoken in Detroit Homes 2014

DETROITography

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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…

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Map: Detroit is Full of Old Housing

DETROITography

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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…

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Map: Respiratory Risk in Detroit

DETROITography

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Air quality is extremely difficult to capture due to changing wind direction (generally moving from SW to NE), temperature change, size of the Detroit-Windsor airshed, and various other factors. Measuring air quality at a neighborhood level is next to impossible without an extensive network of instruments to collect data in a small area.

A handful of data sources can be helpful in examining the issue, but still lack the necessary specificity. This is highlighted in Southwest Detroit where persistent asthma, emergency calls, and respiratory risk are all categorized as low even while there is such a high density of pollution emitting facilities.

Many anecdotal accounts of teachers keeping a drawer full of inhalers and inhalers being sold for cash on the street all indicate that respiratory risk is higher in Southwest Detroit than the data show, but people are likely not utilizing emergency and other health services.

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Map: Home Range of the Detroit Pheasant

DETROITography

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For the last few years I’ve been thinking about Detroit’s most interesting bird around Thanksgiving time. Living near Brush St. and I-94, my dog and I would regularly see a male pheasant patrolling the vacant lots next to the expressway. This year I started working on the Eastside and on an almost weekly basis came across a pheasant flying in front of my car along Ferry St. before Mt. Elliott.

I started scrapping any and all online media that mentioned pheasant sightings in Detroit and included the data from WDET’s crowdsourcing (read more on the history of Detroit pheasants here too). For the analysis I had 109 sightings of roughly 300 pheasants in Detroit between 2002 and 2016. Some sightings were likely the same pheasant seen over and over again while others were just a lone bird out looking for food beyond its normal range.

Using inverse distance weighting…

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Map: Detroit Murals in the Market vs. Graffiti Tickets

DETROITography

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The city has ramped up ticketing for blight violators and that includes properties with graffiti. In some reported cases the graffiti tickets included sanctioned murals and street art, for example Eastern Market, Brooklyn Street Local (restaurant), and the Grand River Creative Corridor. Those tickets led the Mayor to apologize and dismiss all graffiti tickets for murals and signs.

As the artwork for Murals in the Market 2016 has started coming together. I started wondering how many of these graffiti offenses involved buildings in Eastern Market, where there is already a high number of sanctioned murals.

In some cases there have been buildings with both a new mural wall location and a graffiti ticket, but the majority of those have been dismissed graffiti tickets for sanctioned murals. There were 28 graffiti tickets in Eastern Market between 2015 – 2016 and 14 have been dismissed. The majority of businesses ticketed for…

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Map: Geography of Baseball Diamonds in the Detroit Region

DETROITography

terrapattern-baseball-detroit-regionTerrapattern recently launched to investigate typologies of similar places across cities via satellite imagery.

“…the Terrapattern prototype is intended to demonstrate a workflow by which users—such as journalists, citizen scientists, humanitarian agencies, social justice activists, archaeologists, urban planners, and other researchers—can easily search for visually consistent “patterns of interest”. We are particularly keen to help people identify, characterize and track indicators which have not been detected or measured previously, and which have sociological, humanitarian, scientific, or cultural significance.”

I decided to click on the baseball diamond at Tigers Stadium to see what places were similar in “Detroit” – Terrapattern’s sample area for Detroit includes a broader area beyond the city limits, but also cuts off the Far Westside.

terrapatttern-baseballThe result is this great geographic plot of similar images and a series of snapshots of other baseball diamonds. Terrapattern even gives you a nice GeoJSON file to play with if you…

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Map: Property Praxis – Speculation in Detroit

DETROITography

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Land in Detroit has been widely covered in the media as the city and it’s residents have grappled with widespread subprime mortgage lending, myriad tax foreclosures, and targeted blight removal.

The primary connection between these major crises and efforts in Detroit is property speculation.

At least 20% of land in Detroit is owned by property speculators, defined by the amount of property they own that is not registered to an owner that lives in the same neighborhood. Property speculators benefited from the new inventory of property created by the mortgage crisis, but in turn fueled the decline into blight of once intact neighborhoods.

This collaborative mapping project is not the first to examine individuals and corporations that have held large swaths of land in Detroit, but it is the first to examine the true extent of property speculation by digging into the records of shell companies and LLC that…

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Map: Park Acres Per Resident in Detroit

DETROITography

ParkAcresPer1000.png

A while back I saw this analysis completed by the WNYC Data News team on park access and wanted to recreate it for Detroit.

There has been a lot of change with parks over the years from the near closing of 50+ parks during Mayor Bing’s time, to an influx of funding to keep them open, then the widespread adoption of parks by community groups, now the new parks master plan, and $11.7 million being dedicated to 40 smaller neighborhood parks this summer.

The map was created by giving every census tract a half-mile buffer and then calculating how many acres of park space fell within those extended boundaries for each census tract. Those acres were then matched to the number of residents living within each census tract.

Some of Detroit’s more populated areas have much smaller parks. With more people and smaller park spaces that leaves fewer acres…

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