Introducing "City of Change": A Window into Detroit's Residential Neighborhoods

Blog post by Noah Urban; DataDriven Detroit
November 11, 2014

Data Driven Detroit (D3)   (Detroit)

In 2009, Data Driven Detroit (D3) participated in the Detroit Residential Parcel Survey (DRPS), collecting data on roughly 350,000 structures and vacant lots in the city of Detroit.  The survey captured information on the physical condition of Detroit’s residential neighborhoods and empty lots.  Eventually, passage of time rendered the DRPS dataset less representative of current conditions in the city and thus less useful for decision-makers.  In the winter of 2013, the Motor City Mapping project once again undertook the collection of parcel-level data in Detroit.  Using teams of resident surveyors and volunteer drivers, Motor City Mapping covered nearly 380,000 parcels in only six weeks of field work, providing information on structural condition and occupancy.   In addition, D3 incorporated more than twenty other datasets into Motor City Mapping, creating the most comprehensive property database ever for Detroit.

“City of Change” is a D3 blog series dedicated to using these newly available data to explore how Detroit has changed over the past five years.  We assembled indicators that tell the city’s story from a number of different perspectives.  We then mapped these indicators at the census block group level, comparing 840 separate geographies between 2009 and 2014.  The insights offered by these comparisons are striking, frequently shocking, and occasionally hopeful.  They reinforce some of the trends that have been well-documented over the past five years, and shed new light on others.  They paint a picture of both tremendous decline and overwhelming potential.  They highlight neighborhoods that have faced tremendous stresses over the past five years, as well as areas that have endured the city’s continued crises, and even some areas where nascent turnarounds may be starting to become more entrenched.

This series is organized around two main themes.  The first part of the series evaluates the various changes that have taken place over the preceding half-decade at a city-wide level, examining trends in Detroit’s population, housing, and markets.  The second half of the series examines several high-profile, geographically-concentrated investment initiatives, with a particular focus on the changes within these various areas compared to the rest of the city over this five-year period.