Monday, August 11, 2008

OMG! Detroit is on the border?

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The whole "Going to Canada" fiasco that has the Mayor in more hot water than usual (see Saturday's post) brings up an important point.

The way it is being reported in the national media proves that most Americans simply cannot read a map. I am not sure why so few people outside of the region understand that Detroit is part of an international metropolis, which it is. Pull together the populations on both sides of the river and you get about 6 million people. That's a lot of people.

Bearing this in mind, and always happy to try and help dispel confusion on the geography front, I generally refer to the area not as Metro Detroit, but as Detroit/Windsor. Plenty of other people do it too, even if it is not an official designation.

Official or no, to say Detroit/Windsor is only accurate, for a couple of reasons.

One, Windsor may be in Canada, but it grew up with Detroit. They were both French settlements in the 1700's and both rose with the automobile industry. It identifies with Detroit, not Toronto. Not being blind or anything, I am tuned in to the (often striking) differences between both sides of the river. However, all you have to do is drive an hour or so up to a city like London to see how remote/different Windsor is from the rest of Canada. Kind of like Detroit is persona non grata here in these United States.

Two, Detroit and Windsor are basically the same place geographically, far more so than, say, Tijuana/San Diego, where the two downtowns are quite far from each other. At this point in the Detroit River, there isn't much more than a couple thousand feet between the center of Detroit and downtown Windsor.

Locals know all this, and tend not to really think about it all that often. Outsiders are usually nonplussed. (Then you go into the whole Detroit is north of Canada thing, and they get really lost.)

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