If you haven’t checked out http://walkscore.com, you might be missing out on one of the best tools for talking about development and density on the internet. That in mind, I thought I would juxtapose two Walkscore Maps of Detroit and Southeastern Michigan.
Metropolitan Detroit, including Toledo, Port Huron, Flint, Lansing, Jackson, Ann Arbor, and Windsor, ON.
I copied the Walkscore scales and pasted them into the images… generally anything red is considered unwalkable/not-walker-friendly, and anything yellow to green is a scale of walkable neighborhoods from acceptable to best.
The point of the juxtaposition is more to consider that 1) Detroit and Southeastern Michigan does have a fair share of high-scoring neighborhoods, but 2) the sheer size of the metropolitan region means that density has to be focused. In my humble opinion, that development has its starting points in the areas that are already dense.
The challenge, of course, is that many of these neighborhoods’ infrastructure is in disrepair. See the following picture of Old Redford (credit: DetroitYes!) and compare it to that of Ferndale (credit: Wikipedia):
Of course, both of these developments came to be because of their proximity to major Detroit Streetcar stations. Interestingly, these developments have come to different fates due to their neighborhoods and the conditions they were borne in.
If it had to be done again, the Detroit Streetcar System could be looked at for future transportation planners. Of course, it would have to planned to include the region around it now, and more importantly, a way to sustainably fund it.
Detroit Streetcar Map