Interactive map offers new perspective on age of Detroit’s houses, buildings

At first glance, the map of Detroit looks like a random smattering of psychedelic colors.

At closer inspection, it’s an interactive glimpse of every house and building in Detroit, color-coded by the decade in which each was built.

Behind the striking visual is Loveland Technologies, a Detroit-based software and mapping venture that is collecting a wealth of information and photos of every parcel in the 139-square-mile city. 

The “Detroit Building Age” map is so precise and detailed that you can zoom in on each parcel and collect information such as owner, year built, assessment value, tax status and size. The information comes from the city assessor.

“We’ve been wanting to spin up that visualization for a while but haven’t had time or focus until recently when we hired Dexter Slusarski,” who is a member of Loveland’s engineering team, said CEO Jerry Paffendorf. “We’re trying to get much faster at being able to do that quickly for any data set.
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Here are some of our initial observations:

1. Downtown Detroit

Via Loveland Technologies

The area with the most diverse ages of buildings is downtown, which also happens to be the oldest section of the city. Some buildings were built before 1900, while others, like the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit at 1401 Broadway, were built in the past 15 years.

2. Neighborhoods

Via Loveland Technologies

Most of Detroit’s neighborhoods have remained unchanged, with little new construction. A vast majority of the homes were built between the 1900s and 1950s. Houses closest to downtown are the oldest, with the newest along the edges of the city.

3. Black Bottom

Via Loveland Technologies

The green patch represents newer housing that replaced much of Black Bottom, a predominately African American neighborhood. Before demolition of Black Bottom, many of the houses were built in the late 1800s. Much of the replacement housing was built in the 1970s and ’80s.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

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