Detroit Transportation Systems

I came across a really cool site:

And was inspired to search out some of the different maps and images of the transit systems in Detroit.  I think that public transportation can be a really great reflection on a city’s life and it’s very interesting to hear about the changes made in cities.

From oldest to newest (and with fantasy maps at the end):

Detroit Annexation Map -
Detroit Annexation Map
Detroit United Rail (1913) -
Detroit United Rail (1913)
Rail Service (1941) -
Rail Service (1941)
Rail Service (1954) -
Rail Service (1954)
Detroit Terminal Railroad -
Detroit Terminal Railroad
DDOT System Map 2008 -
DDOT System Map 2008
M-1 Rail Proposal -
M-1 Rail Proposal
M-1 Rail Proposal (Including "People Mover") -
M-1 Rail Proposal (Including “People Mover”)
M-1 Rail Route (Actual) -
M-1 Rail Route (Actual)
DART (Fantasy Map) -
DART (Fantasy Map)
Freshwater Rail (Fantasy Map) -
Freshwater Rail (Fantasy Map)
Detroit Metro Map (Fantasy) -
Detroit Metro Map (Fantasy)

FYI: I snagged most of these images from Google image search, Detroit Transit History, and the M-1 project website, they are not mine.

One Year, pt. 2

Now two days have passed since I left southeast Michigan for Los Angeles.   Of course, I figured that I’d resume my storytelling about my latest year in Los Angeles and not just continue on about my cat…  …but he did cause me lots of trouble.

So, we (said partner and I) were off on our adventure.  The drive itself was rather boring – intentionally.  Given the load of the U-Haul and the 4 cylinders I was towing it with, woefully near the maximum limit, I figured that it’d be best to take it easy.  I think the fastest I ever drove was 65 mph, and that was going downhill somewhere in the mountains in Arizona. The route we took:

Detroit to Los Angeles
Detroit to Los Angeles

Of course, I did know what the end result would be exciting and new (palm trees, sunshine, gainful employment), so the boredom wasn’t the worst part.  In fact, when I had flown over before to interview for the gig, I captured some great sights that fueled my desire to experience things that were different from southeast and mid-Michigan:

Flying Over
Flying Over
Canyons!  Mountains!
Canyons! Mountains!

At some point, I knew that I’d have to brave some of the inclines and declines of elevation changes in New Mexico and Arizona (per this picture), and those were some of the best parts of the trip.  It’s not that the Great Plains are boring, it’s that they are very repetitive and cows, sheep, and Flying J gas stations lack a certain notoriety for me to care about every single one.

That said, the last sight I captured in Hamtramck (where our flat was) was one of the most interesting farms I’ve ever seen:

Urban Farm in Hamtramck
Urban Farm in Hamtramck

Only a few weeks prior, I was volunteering at this old plot of land, digging borders for planters, carrying concrete and steel bars for fence supports, and helping them seed and water their first beds.  I found it to be a great experience, uniquely “Rust Belt” in America, and full of diverse individuals who were attempting to make their community better, no matter what adversity they were up against.  This particular plot was a city owned housing lot that Hamtramck couldn’t sell due to judgment against the municipality years ago as a product of housing discrimination.  Until the city is able to build and provide housing for those that they discriminated against, the city is unable to sell plots like these – so the only use for them is to let the public take care of them.  Fortunately, the public does and this is just one example.

Now, the farms don’t really end in America.  California is one of the biggest agriculture states (the Central Valley is arguably some of the most fertile soil in the world), and everywhere in between the lands are endless fields of… grain.  And if you’ll scroll back up briefly to notice the route that we were taking, at some point, we started to parallel U.S. Route 66:

Route 66 in Baxter Springs, KS
Route 66 in Baxter Springs, KS

Although I bet that many Americans (myself included) and others have a yearning to see the “Great American Highway,” most of it seems rather nondescript (note the McDonald’s sign).  We quickly got back on the interstate and cruised to Oklahoma.

At some point it was bound to get hot, hot, hot.  In no small surprise to me, we left OKC for Albuquerque on the hottest day of the year in 2012 at a balmy 106*F.  When you’re towing nearly a thousand pounds… a fear of overheating either the engine or transmission can make one uneasy.  It looked like this in New Mexico (or maybe Arizona, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter):

New Mexico Desert

Fortunately, after such a stressor, Albuquerque to Flagstaff (AZ) was a short drive.  Flagstaff had waiting for us some great beer, great food, and cold weather.  A 60 *F night is quite unexpected after being 50* warmer the same day.  After staying the night, the last leg of the drive began.  We passed Kingman, AZ and Needles, CA, crossing over the mighty Colorado as we descended from elevation into the Mojave Desert.  Traffic was light, and we made it into Los Angeles after rush hour – pulling into Westwood just after 8:30 p.m. PST.

I started work at UCLA the following Monday – leaving the road behind.  I’ve only had the joy of going on a few small trips since arriving here (Monterey, CA, Las Vegas, NV, and San Diego, CA stand to mind), but as boring as it can be, the road grants a sense of freedom that helps in transition.  America, and all of her repetitive cattle, sheep, and truck stops, never let us down as we took a big leap into what seemed to be a chasm between Detroit and Los Angeles.  Not a literal chasm, obviously, but more of a oh-God-this-is-actually-happening reality slap chasm.  If you will.

Now, I am a fan of California.  I don’t think there are many that aren’t.  But given the appropriateness of moving to a city like LA as a twenty-something (it’s not that cliché), it’s treated me well so far:

Royce Hall, UCLA
Royce Hall, UCLA
Sunset near Mt. Waterman, Angeles National Forest
Sunset near Mt. Waterman, Angeles National Forest
Off of the PCH (US 1) near Big Sur/Monterey
Off of the PCH (US 1) near Big Sur/Monterey

My plan is for this reflection to continue (at my leisure), and to get to some of my student affairs musings, personal growth observations, and the like.  But these pictures are just as interesting – and the trip is a good foundation for what’s occurred so far.  Stay tuned.

Top Posts of 2012

1.  Food Deserts in Detroit
2.  Environmental Vegetarianism: Is it Sustainable?
3.  Patterns of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Population Change
4.  My MOOC: Seal ‘er up, send ‘er to rest
5.  Walkable Neighborhoods in Detroit and Southeastern Michigan
6.  Density in New York City–People and Power
7.  I promised my dad we’d hike…
8.  Venturing into a ‘MOOC’
9.  What American Higher Ed Looks Like Now
10.  Venturing into a MOOC: Intro, Lesson 1 and 2


Didn’t really predict this at all – but that’s what I get traffic for.  A pretty decent amount too – several thousand (unique) people viewed this blog in 2012.  Well, in that case, cheers (and Happy New Year)!

Michigan Politics and Economy

In an attempt to put some of my thoughts into a space where it may have some value (instead of just my Facebook page), I thought it might be prudent to write a post on some of the realities of Michigan’s political atmosphere right now and some of my thoughts on it.

Credit: Huff Post
Credit: Huff Post

I wrote a post over a year ago on the emergency financial manager law that Republican governor Rick Snyder signed into law when coming into office.  More recently, the law found itself under review at the mercy of the citizens of the fine state of Michigan directly at the polls.  Indeed, Michigan repealed this law with a clear majority of voters against it.

Today, the Michigan House passed the bill again.

I cannot comprehend the logic behind the lame-duck legislature that believes that this bill somehow is in the interest of their constituents.  Indeed, I believe it’s very likely that they see it in their own interest and the interests of those lining their pockets.

Now, in a different direction, Michigan voters also denied the legislature a proposal which would have codified collective bargaining rights for private and public employees into the state constitution (prop 2).  And in record time, the Michigan legislature has turned this into a movement to create and pass a law which removes the ability for effective collective bargaining to occur.

Of course, one might think that just because doesn’t think collective bargaining should be in the state constitution DOESN’T mean that the individual also thinks collective bargaining should be undermined completely.  However, given the illogical, non-representative manner of the conservative lame-duck legislature, I’m completely unsurprised by their decision-making process.

The same legislature has also gone to the right on other bills as well, with policies that restrict abortion, deny rights to LGBT individuals, eliminate the power of local governments, and overhaul education (K-20) in manners which have made many well-informed individuals extremely concerned.

In what might be the largest move to the right in decades, Michigan has gone from a labor-focused, moderate state to what might be tantamount to Mississippi or West Virginia.  No bones about it – that’s what has happened.

I think it’s time to slow the train down.

First, there is no conservative place in this country, including Houston, that low regulation and low taxes have lead to the area becoming an economic powerhouse.  Indeed, the places that have the most capital are high-tax and high human services: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.  They are not Dallas, Houston, or Indianapolis.  There is no need to argue this; it’s already been done.

Second, why in the world would anyone move to Michigan now?  This constant race-to-the-bottom philosophy does little to create jobs; rather it poaches jobs from nearby states and encourages companies to be concerned with only their bottom line rather than a fair pay and their community.  Additionally, if you’re a person of color, a woman, LGBT, or non-Christian, chances are the state of Michigan legislature is going to have a law that directly affects you in a negative manner.  (And if you’re any kind of conscious CEO, you’re not going to locate your company in a state like that, either…)

Third, conservatives themselves know that the path to success does not lie with the current agenda.  Indeed, Michigan’s own conservative Grand Rapids (“a bastion of American conservativism”) is doing well due to their own moderate and progressive agenda.  So what gives?




Patterns of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Population Change

The U.S. Census Bureau released a beautiful thing recently – a report of the urbanization processes in America.  And, more importantly, it comes with LOTS of beautiful chloropeth maps to make any geographer or social scientist excited.

I wanted to share some interesting maps (and please note, they are all chopped directly out of the above-linked PDF) and some commentary on them.  For those waiting for an update on my MOOC experience, I will be posting about that later this week.

First, America, as a country is growing roughly at a rate of around 10% (per decade).  It’s pretty clear what the recent trends are.

Percentage Change in Population by CBSA – 2000 to 2010

The growth is spread rather evenly across larger cities – and not so much around the smaller cities.

Percentage Change in Population by CBSA Status and Pop Size Category – 2000 to 2010

Katrina’s toll is noted…

CBSA with Fastest Growth and Decline in Total Population 2000 to 2010

And there are clear patterns of suburbanization, but also some CBD growth in the next few maps:

Percentage Change in Population by Census Tract – 2000 to 2010 (DFW and Phoenix)
Percentage Change in Population by Census Tract – 2000 to 2010 (Detroit and STL)
Numeric Change in Population by Census Tract – 2000 to 2010 (Chicago and NYC)
Metropolitan Statistical Areas with the Larges Numeric Increase and Decline in Population Less than 2 miles from City Hall – 2000 to 2010

And last, the country is changing demographically rather dramatically.

Numeric Change in Population by Race and Hispanic Origin – 2000 to 2010
Race and Hispanic Origin as a Percentage of Total Population by CBSA – 2010
Race and Hispanic Origin as a Percentage of Total Population by CBSA – 2010