AIRSPACE: infrastructure above

Posted in CARTOGRAPHY, INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSIT by urbanmi on March 17, 2013


Visual Flight Rule (VFR) maps allow pilots to fly with visual reference to the ground; as described by Wikipedia: “VFR are a set of regulations under which a pilot operates an aircraft in weather conditions generally clear enough to allow the pilot to see where the aircraft is going.” 1 Above is a Hybrid VFR map overlaid with a map of Michigan showing a combination of World Aeronautical (WAC) charts, sectional raster chars, and VFR Terminal Area Raster Charts.

I’m fascinated by the foreign language and accrued knowledge of another profession/hobby taking a familiar geographical context and imbuing the map with new symbols, iconography, and terms, giving it an alien understanding.


(Above Left: Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo VFRs. Above Right: Detroit VFR)

The new information alters the area of influence of each city and metropolitan region. The scale of the city grows, and the conception of what is Detroit, Grand Rapids or Kalamazoo evolves similarly. Separations shrink, time shortens and the map with this new information translates these new relationships. The radius of Detroit and DTW overlaps and consumes the smaller neighboring airports and cities deafening the voices and significance of these smaller cities.

The density of information is captivating, revealing the governance of the airspace above each urban, suburban and rural landscape and the regulations of another industry placed upon it by the FAA.



(Above: Grand Rapids comparison of Hybrid VFR and IFR)

These maps reveal how much thicker the sectional experience of a place is in reality. The Instrument Flight Rules map diagrams the flight paths and approaches to each airport. They are maps of auditory sensations and the intermittent visual ephemera. The flight paths unveil trajectories where the sensation of planes and jets above are greatest. These maps can allow designers and architects to anticipate the implications of plane travel in a tangible way through sound-proof planning. Cities can strategize locations to improve or take advantage of plane-watching with parks and public spaces.

Currently, in Grand Rapids, there is one location to sit and watch the planes land; it is a hidden treasure. The experience, however, could be greatly improved it is currently just a parking lot and a chain link fence, it is uncomfortable, and staying there for any prolonged period of time feels unwelcome.


(Above:These VFR maps also contain data on every airport in addition to the charts and maps.)

Airports can be grand, and they can be part of the urban experience, not just an after thought or an unpleasant consequence of the utilitarian need for rapid travel over long distances. In San Diego, due to the airport’s proximity to the urban center of the city, planes are ever-present. Throughout the city planes can be heard and felt (for better or for worse), but there are many parks where you can lay and watch the planes fly over and allow yourself to enjoy their existence.


via: Iamtheweather


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Posted in GRAND RAPIDS by urbanmi on October 23, 2012


I used to substitute teach in Grand Rapids Public Schools.

One day while reviewing a book on the history of Grand Rapids I stumbled upon the map below. Documenting the racial pockets of the city in 1927.

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Links: or I Need a New Name for These Shares

Posted in DETROIT, GRAND RAPIDS, quick links by urbanmi on November 28, 2010
  • From David Byrne’s Blog (of Talking Heads fame and bicycle enthusiast), a post on biking in the Motor City.
  • A Google Chrome Experiment in partnership with the Arcade Fire, input your address, wait for it to load and watch.  I’ve explored it with a few Michigan cities, interesting for procrastinating.
  • Superfront is conducting a Detroit-centric competition and exhibition.
  • A few maps that can be used for revealing twitter and tech community usage in Michigan. Checkin.to, made by a friend, uses twitter and foursquare. What these maps show about Michigan’s usage is revealing; making it visually clear, Michigan’s lower use of web2.0 technology; conclusions can be drawn about the education levels and creative class population in Michigan cities, bad implications.
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Wild Bill Bunge

Posted in DETROIT by urbanmi on November 24, 2010

While doing research for my thesis and for my general Detroit and Michigan interests I stumbled upon Zachary Johnson’s indiemaps blog and his post on William Wheeler Bunge, Jr.  Soon after this discovery I also stumbled upon Bunge in the Winter 2009 publication of Volume, and a piece the Atlas of Love and Hate. Johnson’s post on Bunge is informative and great, he provides far more details than the Wikipedia entry and is clearly informed on the subject.  If interested you should just read Johnson’s post, I will be merely be summarizing the Detroit points.  All images via indiemaps

Bunge was an American geographer and spatial theorist who did radical work on Detroit brings him to this blog.  Work that caused him to be fired from Wayne State University where he was an Assistant Professor from 1962-1969.  There he began the Detroit Geographical Expedition in partnership with Gwendolyn Warren in 1968.

His “geographical expeditions” explored the uncharted areas of the inner city, rather than distant shores, was path breaking (Merrifield 1995).

It involved policy lobbying, direct support to poor households, and analysis of urban problem He said of his Detroit Expedition “Exploring humans in a meaningful way is fraught with physical danger.”

Fitzgerald: The Geography of a Revolution is an experimental work of urban geography.  Bunge describes Fitzgerald as a humanist geography, describing Fitzgerald, a community in Detroit.”   The book is science: its data are maps, graphics, photographs, and the words of people.

“Variously affiliated with the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University, the Expedition attempted and at times succeeded in providing free college courses to young inner-city Detroit residents. Bunge wanted to do research in the black community while also teaching the skills necessary for them to conduct research for themselves. All volunteer faculty were used, and the Expedition was generally successful in attracting experts from across the U.S. to teach courses at facilities freely provided on Wayne State University’s Detroit campus.”


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Posted in quick links by urbanmi on October 5, 2010

The Pistons sale could have significant ramifications for where the area’s pro teams play — in Detroit or its suburbs.

If Ilitch owns both the Red Wings and Pistons, he could likely leverage a deal with Detroit and Wayne County officials to finance a new arena in the city because they wouldn’t want him to move the storied hockey team to The Palace in suburban Auburn Hills, where the Pistons play.

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