Wayne County, Michigan is home to large portion of the state’s residents and encompasses the city of Detroit. Over time the population distribution throughout the area has changed considerably. Our project focuses on the population dynamics in regards to the changes in urban land cover use. Cities often show a pattern of outward expansion as urban buildings are built to meet increasing industrial growth and surrounding areas are converted to suburban housing for city workers. By visualizing Wayne County’s urban expansion and the changes in population density which have taken place during the 1990's, we hope to demonstrate that both phenomena are interrelated.


Detroit is of particular interest because of persisting social and economic woes. In the last 10 years the area’s economy, which relies heavily on the auto industries, has been especially affected by the recent recession. Many individuals have decided to relocate from the inner city areas to either surrounding suburbs or other parts of the country entirely. Due to this, the outward expansion typical of large cities has only been exacerbated in Wayne County. People who have been to inner city Detroit are familiar with some areas which have been almost abandoned in the wake of such economic hard times. This creates a curious situation in which the city’s growth is similar to the growth of a tree where outer layers are continually added as the inner core slowly rots away. It will be interesting to graph these changes in a GIS framework so that the relation between population distribution and urban sprawl can be visually communicated.


View Wayne County, MI in a larger map







Project Team:
Matt Greene
Matt Rose
Richard Burton