Apr 16, 2024 - News

How neighborhoods get defined

A map of initial responses to Detroitography's interactive neighborhood-defining tool. Solid colors mean agreement while blended colors show people disagree about neighborhood boundaries.

A map of initial responses to Detroitography's interactive neighborhood-defining tool. Solid colors mean agreement while blended colors show people disagree about neighborhood boundaries. Screenshot: Courtesy of Detroitography

Detroit's neighborhood boundaries and names often get shaped by outsiders, per a recent essay from Detroitography, a local map creator, in Model D.

The big picture: Detroitography is analyzing neighborhoods with an interactive tool that allows users to draw and define their own neighborhoods, then see how their drawings compare with others.

  • The tool was created to source more local perspectives on neighborhoods, as opposed to outside or political views.

State of play: The neighborhoods whose names and boundaries have stuck around the longest are generally historic districts, like Corktown, Detroitography wrote.

  • One way neighborhoods were drawn historically — in the 1960s-70s — was by United Community Services (now United Way), which drew them after census counts to analyze how the city changed.

The intrigue: Some more recent, suspect neighborhood names have appeared without residents even knowing about them. For example, "Corktown Shores," "The Eye" or "Buffalo-Charles."

Go deeper: Axios Detroit published a similar "draw your neighborhood" feature in 2022, but with select neighborhoods. Try both!

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