Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The map of Detroit

I've been spending a lot of my time lately studying the map of metropolitan Detroit as if it's a puzzle to be solved. Where, oh where, within this puzzle might we fit? I study and ponder and examine the map, hoping an answer might miraculously appear: a nice little neighborhood where I'll be happy and BB's commute won't be too bad. But I'm beginning to believe that's impossible.

The problem with Detroit is that it's too damn big.

While I was studying the map I measured it. The greater metropolitan Detroit area is 80 miles across (from Novi to Grosse Pointe Woods) and 100 miles long (from Auburn Hills to Flatrock.) And most of that is ugly suburban sprawl.

There are some nice suburbs to the north, but much of this vast area is a soul-destroying, cultureless, wasteland.

We currently live at the southeast edge of the map in an area known as "Downriver." This is convenient for BB's work commute, but is otherwise not an especially desirable place to be. And, of-course, there is no mass transit in the Motor City. No train to ride from one side of town to the other - and that's really a shame, especially considering how huge the place is.

According to a recent article in the Detroit Free Press you can easily fit Manhattan, San Francisco, and Boston within the city limits of Detroit with room to spare. The total area of Manhattan, San Francisco, and Boston put together comes to 118 square miles. The city of Detroit covers 138. The article also noted that those three cities have a total population of 3 million, while Detroit has only 900,000. (Forty square miles of the city of Detroit are now barren!)

I'm not too happy to be here, but here I am. And I'm not looking forward to moving again - my fifth move so far this decade! But since I don't want to stay where we are I have no alternative. I have to keep studying the map, exploring the territory, and searching for a new place to hang our hats.

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