Last house on the prairie -- another Detroit myth debunked

Judging by the press coverage, it seems as if thousands of isolated Detroit residents currently live in desolate, barely-populated neighborhoods.To Robert Linn's count, a Detroit resident can be counted as LHB (last house on the block) if they live 300 feet (the length of a short city block) from another resident or place of business. Uprooting these long-term residents has been a huge concern for those concerned with reshaping the city. But Linn, a graduate student at the University of Michigan's MUP program, decided to delve deeper. His blog, Mapping the Straits, examines Detroit from a spatial and numerical bent. And he stumbled on a very important piece of information.


In a standard article, this homeowner usually bemoans their isolated location, but insists that they will never leave. These stories usually cite these residents as both a reason for, and an obstacle to, efforts to right-size the city. NPR, The Huffington Post, Time Magazine, Lost Magazine, The Metro Times, Harper's Magazine, and Architect Magazine all subscribe to this narrative. In fact, almost every national or local paper -- except for the Detroit Free Press and Model D -- has run at least one article on the city featuring an interview with one of these "last house on the block" (LHB) residents.

Contrary to the nearly 30 articles  he found on LexisNexis describing LHB residents, Linn's data-mapping shows there are only 134 Detroiters living in isolation from their neighbors. And we may have just found a new favorite blog.

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