Beyond the Bend: A Google Earth Experiment

By Staff • April 12th, 2017

Our reporting team researched data on stories of growth and change in communities outside of South Bend, Indiana, and visualized that data using Google Earth Pro and Earth Engine Timelapse. The videos and graphics show radical change to some of the world’s rapidly changing areas.


Butte and the Berkeley Pit

The state of Montana has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1992, when Bill Clinton won 37.63 percent of the popular vote to beat George H.W. Bush. Bush received 35.12 percent of the popular vote that year.

In the 2016 election, when Donald Trump won 55.6 percent of the popular vote in Montana, six counties voted for Hillary Clinton: Missoula, Glacier, Big Horn, Gallatin, Deer Lodge and Silver Bow.

Deer Lodge and Silver Bow counties have voted for the Democratic candidate in every presidential election since 1956,* even in 1972 when every other Montana county went for Nixon.

The story of Silver Bow county is a unique one in the history of Montana and the United States. Up until the 1930s, it was the fastest growing county in Montana, with a booming copper industry. Now, it has a population of 34,523 (2013 numbers) and the entire area is on the EPA’s National Priorities list. The EPA gave the “Silver Bow Creek/Butte Area” a site score** of 63.76, the highest in Montana.

A Google Timelapse showing an aerial view of the area since 1984 and the growth of the Berkeley Pit can be found here.

The growing pit or lake in the top part of the frame was once home to neighborhoods that lived on top of the mines that made Butte a destination for European immigrants. Open pit mining in Butte began in 1955, when copper prices were the highest they had been since World War I. The accessible parts of the Butte mines had already been mined, but the Anaconda Company sought to continue to profit from its mines there.

Butte was originally founded as a gold and silver mining camp, but it became prosperous in early 20th century during the copper boom.

By 1900, historian David Emmons estimates 12,000 people of Irish descent lived in Butte. Below is a Google Earth Pro-generated movie mapping out the route Emmons describes in his book, “The Butte Irish”: “Skibereen to Queenstown; Queenstown to Boston; Boston to Butte and the Mountain Con Mine.”

The tour begins on the Beara Peninsula, near Skibereen. What Emmons calls Queenstown is today known as Cobh, a port town in County Cork, Ireland.

*In 1956, Silver Bow county voted for Dwight Eisenhower, while Deer Lodge still voted for the Democrat Adlai Stevenson. In 1924, Silver Bow voted for the progressive candidate, Robert Follette. In 1904, Deer Lodge voted for Theodore Roosevelt. In every other presidential election, both counties have voted for the Democratic candidate.

**The site score is calculated by the EPA using their Hazard Ranking System. A full definition can be found here. It examines a site’s ability to release hazardous substances, the characteristics of the waste created and the people and sensitive environments affected by the release. — Caelin Miltko


Touring the Premier League’s Stadiums

The English Premier League’s stadiums encompass a wide range of size and prestige. From AFC Bournemouth’s tiny 12,000-seat Vitality Stadium to iconic stadiums of the sport — Liverpool’s Anfield, Manchester United’s Old Trafford and more — here is a tour of all 20 Premier League Stadiums. — Lucas Masin-Moyer


Deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest

This timelapse shows satellite imagery of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest from 1984 to 2016. This section of the Amazon rainforest is located in the Codajás municipality of the Amazonas state. Zoom in to see the individual settlements that have cut deeper and deeper into the rainforest over time. Roads into the rainforest widen as deforestation increases.

Deforestation is used by the logging industry, as well as for farm, industrial and settlement use. The Amazon rainforest has lost 294,366 square miles in total since 1970. “Save the Rainforest” protests prompted significant decreases to illegal logging, but deforestation has been back on the rise since 2015.

These increases threaten Brazil’s ability to successfully complete the Paris Agreement commitments it made in 2016.

Deforestation has a serious impact on the environment and endangered species. If the current rate of deforestation continues, every rainforest in the world will disappear within 100 years. — Grace Watkins


Hong Kong International Airport Emerges from the Sea

Hong Kong International Airport opened in July 1998 and was built largely on land reclaimed from the sea.

The airport is currently 4.8 square miles with two runways, though it’s expanding to three runways and is rapidly forming more land to accommodate the growth.

Hong Kong International Airport is the world’s most profitable, and Skytrax rankings recently named the airport the fifth best in the world, as voted by air travelers.

Watch the island emerge from the sea in this Google Earth Engine timelapse from 1984 to 2016. — Cassidy McDonald


Timelapse: Lake Mead is Drying Up

Along with the rest of the Western United States, Lake Mead in Nevada is suffering from the ongoing drought. The water levels have shrunk substantially from 1984 to 2016.

In the past, the reservoir has provided 90 percent of Las Vegas’ drinking water, yet federal water managers are now predicting that the lake will not have enough water to fulfill deliveries to Arizona and Nevada in 2018.

Las Vegas, Nevada, is one of the fastest growing cities in America, and the shrinking of its main fresh water supply is not something that will help the rising population levels. According to CBS News, the water levels of the Lake Mead reservoir were down more than 60 percent from their capacity in May of 2015. In September of 2015, the reservoir was down 147 feet from full capacity, and only 38 percent full. In 2016, the reservoir was just 36 percent full, and only keeps shrinking.

What exactly is causing this shrinking? Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the United States, and is fed by the Colorado River and its tributaries, which are fed by snowmelt from the Rocky Mountains. Since the Southwestern United States and the Colorado River Basin have been experiencing a drought for the past fourteen years, there just isn’t as much water flowing in the system.

Although the snow should still be melting, the winters have been uneven and the precipitation has been below average, due to warmer temperatures and global warming. All of these factors in combination have contributed to the drying up of Lake Mead.

The drought is not going away anytime soon. The chances of a 35-year or longer “megadrought” striking the Southwest and central Great Plains by 2100 are above 80 percent if the world stays on its current trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions, according to scientists from NASA, Columbia University and Cornell University.

Although the region is already historically dry, rising temperatures spurred by the greenhouse effect result in more evaporation and less precipitation for the region as a whole. — Claire Radler


Dubai’s Radical Transformation

Dubai has experienced quite the transformation over the past few decades. It used to be known mainly as a small trading post and oil producer, but has become a a growing target of investment and an emerging tourist destination.

Dubai wants to become “the smartest and most sustainable city,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The impetus of Dubai’s transformation was when it became a member of the United Arab Emirates in 1971. Dubai, which is now home to approximately 2.5 million inhabitants, now boasts the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest skyscraper.

Dubai is in preparation to host the World Expo in 2020. — Jacob Zinkula


Myrtle Beach’s Rapid Growth

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is one of the most popular vacation cities in the United States.

It’s also one of the nation’s fastest growing cities. According to Steve Jones of The Sun News, Myrtle Beach was the nation’s second-fastest growing metropolitan area from 2014 to 2015.

Though people of all ages have been moving to Myrtle Beach, a lot of the city’s recent growth can be attributed to retirees. Myrtle Beach is famous for beautiful beaches, and rapid economic development has accounted for the construction of a bevy of other attractions, such as golf courses.

The Google Earth Engine Timelapse tool below shows how dramatic the area’s growth has been. — Kevin Culligan

Indiana’s Reputation is Expanding in Technology Industry

By Daniel O'Boyle • April 7th, 2017

When asked to think of cities associated with technology, one usually thinks of the coasts. Areas like Silicon Valley are usually seen as the key locations behind the modern industries of the 21st century.

But in recent years, Indianapolis — and the state of Indiana — have become major players in the industry too. Just last month, Forbes placed Indianapolis fifth among cities creating the most tech jobs, while Governing Magazine wrote about the city’s surprise success in the tech industry.

Echoing a similar sentiment expressed in his State of the State address, Gov. Eric Holcomb called on Hoosiers to embrace Indiana’s potential as a tech state in a recent letter to the Indianapolis Star.

This infographic shows the success of Indiana — and Indianapolis in particular — as a key location for tech jobs.

Studies: Indiana Ranks in the Middle Nationally for Religiosity

By Claire Radler and Grace Watkins • April 6th, 2017

A recent study by Gallup found that Mississippi is still the most religious state in the United States, 59 percent of it’s residents said they are “Very Religious.” Mississippi has been the most religious state in the U.S. for the past nine years, while Vermont remains the least religious state. According to the study, just 29 percent of it’s residents said they are “Very Religious.”

Indiana falls just around the average, coming in as number 22 on the list, with 41 percent of its residents saying they were “Very Religious.” Vice President Mike Pence hails from Indiana, and is known for his commitment to Evangelicalism, yet this is not the trend for the majority of Indiana residents.

This infographic uses data from Gallup and the Pew Research Center to bring religiosity into focus. — Claire Radler


A Deeper Look at Indiana …

Vice President Mike Pence is known for his evangelical faith. His commitment to the “Billy Graham Rule” made national headlines last week. Pence’s home state of Indiana is also widely regarded as religious.

Do Indiana residents really live up to this expectation of religiosity, and can we learn anything about Pence by examining his home environment? — Grace Watkins

Indiana Starting to Make Strides in the Exploding Craft Beer Market

By Teagan Dillon • April 6th, 2017

The craft beer industry is experiencing tremendous growth in the U.S. in recent years.

According to the Brewers Association, the craft beer industry now represents 12 percent market share of the total beer market, more than double than what it was in 2011. The following infographic shows where Indiana ranks among the nation in this craft beer craze.

Maps: Tracking the Best of Indiana, South Bend and Beyond …

By Staff • March 2nd, 2017

Where are the best places to hike? Best co-working spaces? Best tourist attractions?

Our team takes you on a tour of what to do around South Bend and Indiana with these maps.


Great Parks Near South Bend

Those seeking to escape the city life of South Bend can make the short drive to any of these great county and state parks just outside the city limits, like Saint Patrick’s County Park and Madeline Bertrand State Park, which lie just across the Indiana-Michigan border from each other. They’re just a short, 10-minute drive away from downtown.

Those seeking a more adventurous afternoon can visit some of the other parks on this list, all of which are within an hour’s drive of downtown South Bend. — Zach Klonsinski


10 Must-Visit Literary Locations in and Around Indianapolis

Whether you want to learn more about Naptown native Kurt Vonnegut, buckle-down and find a solitary corner of a library to get some work accomplished, or kick back with a nice cold one and a book, Indianapolis has got you covered.

This map of Indianapolis and a few surrounding cities displays 10 locations that book-loving Hoosiers must visit. Monthly poetry readings, a library converted into a restaurant, and craft-beers named after books are just a few of the literary-related items Indiana has to offer. — Lauren Fox


Indiana Museums to Visit

There’s plenty to see and do all throughout Indiana, from the northern part in South Bend, to the capital city of Indianapolis, to the southern city of Evansville. Using information from TripAdvisor, this map illustrates the best museums to visit in Indiana.

A big part of Indiana’s culture and history is the automobile industry, and that’s reflected in the map. Five of the ten museums pertain to cars, while the rest cover science, history and the arts.

Scroll through the map and click the pins to see each museum’s name, location, description and a YouTube video. — Kevin Culligan


Co-working Spaces Flourish in South Bend

Co-working is the startup’s testing ground. Less expensive than leasing a whole office and more focused than working from home, coworking offers space for individual workers and small companies to get the job done.

Co-working spaces started in larger cities but have started to flourish in smaller places such as South Bend. The eight co-working spaces mapped below have different membership structures, different setups and different communities to serve, whether entrepreneurs, employees who only need occasional office space, students, artists or the people on the cutting edge of tech. — Emily McConville


10 Interesting Things to Do in South Bend

Featured on the map are 10 interesting locations in South Bend. Each location is either an educational or community building opportunity in the city. All are family-friendly and affordable.

While sports events often attract tourists to South Bend, there are many other local events of historical, environmental and artistic interest.

For example, the Potawatomi Zoo is the oldest in Indiana. The History Museum and Studebaker National Museum both host interesting permanent and traveling exhibits. The Civil Rights Heritage Center and Pierre Navarre Log Cabin preserve local history.

The Unity Gardens presents a way for families to engage with the community and the environment, while Erasmus Books and the Chicory Cafe are perhaps most well-known and well-loved.

Many of the community centers on the map are relatively new. Some, like the Birdsell Project and Circa Arts Gallery, were converted from abandoned properties. This follows a national increase in interest in converting abandoned buildings into community spaces. — Grace Watkins


10 Things to Do in South Bend in 2017

Whether you’re interested in art, nature or sports, South Bend offers a wide variety of activities and entertainment to meet the needs of its residents.

From a newly enhanced Notre Dame Stadium to an April lineup at the Morris Performing Arts Center, 2017 is packed with exciting opportunities to immerse in the city. By no means exhaustive, the following list provides 10 Things to Do in South Bend for people of all ages and abilities. — Teagan Dillon


Exploring South Bend, Mishawaka and Elkhart

Thousands of people converge on the University of Notre Dame on any given football weekend. Those same people are missing out on–and might not even know about–what lies beyond the Dome. Below are a few places to check out in the South Bend-Mishawaka-Elkhart area. — Dakota Connell-Ledwon

Map: Documenting Indiana’s Underground Railroad Locations

By Erin Lattimer • February 21st, 2017

Due north of slave-owning state Kentucky, Indiana was an intuitive route for slaves seeking freedom in Canada during the 1860s. Stations were located across the state and were mainly only known by word-of-mouth.

The map below lists just a few of the Underground Railroad sites recorded in Indiana. Secrecy for protection led to little documentation of the sites, but organizations like Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources and the National Park Service attempt to keep a running list of documented Underground Railroad sites. These services are used to create points on this map.

List of Indiana’s Underground Railroad Sites:

Alexander T Rankin House
A member of Indiana’s Antislavery Society, Alexander Rankin was the only recorded person to also participate in Ohio’s Antislavery Society.

Bethel AME Church
This church was known as the “Indianapolis Station” and founded in 1836. After a fire in 1862, it was rebuilt in 1867. In 2016 it was sold to a private firm.

Captain Samuel Barry’s Home
One of the original founders of the town, Orland, Captain Samuel Barry’s home frequently gave refuge to escaped slaves.

Daniel Low Estate
Either by hiding them on board grain boats or sneaking them on to trains heading for Michigan and Canada, Daniel Low assisted approximately 150 slaves on the Underground Railroad.

Eleutherian College Classroom and Chapel Building
Symbolically built on top of a hill to demonstrate its commitment to “individual equality, education, and equal opportunity without regard to race or gender,” Eleutherian College was a well-known stop on the Underground Railroad for fugitives traveling through Madison to Indianapolis.

Erastus Farnham House
One of the leaders of the Underground Railroad movement in Fremont, Indiana, Erastus Farnham hid fugitives in his house and kept watch for slave catchers from the cupola on his roof.

Georgetown Neighborhood
At one point populated with abolitionists and freedom seekers, most of the original homes and churches from the Underground Railroad era still stand in this neighborhood.

Levi Coffin House
Owner Levi Coffin has been termed “president” of the Underground Railroad for assisting over 2,000 slaves to freedom as well as supporting other Underground Railroad stations throughout the North.

The Lyman and Asenath Hoyt House
Between 1830 and 1856 Lyman and Asenath Hoyt along with their seven children volunteered their home and property as a station of the Underground Railroad, hiding fugitives in their barn or a cave located on their land.

Thomas Bulla House
Owner Thomas Bulla and his family used their home to aid runaway slaves. The home is located on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.

Map: Which major cities have the most foreign-born residents?

By Cassidy McDonald • February 21st, 2017

People are on the move — now, more than ever.

In 2015, the total number of international migrants passed 240 million (the highest number yet). These migrants tend to congregate in cities.

What does that mean for 10 major cities with increasingly foreign-born populations? Explore the map to find out.


Where Do Our Immigrants Really Come From?

As the country grapples with immigration raids and travel ban battles, the time is right to dive into data about migration to the United States.

These are the top countries of origin for foreigners granted legal permanent residence status in the U.S. in 2013:

Data: Indiana Food Insecurity Rates Higher Than National Average

By Caelin Miltko • February 20th, 2017

Indiana’s food insecurity rates from 2013 to 2015 were higher than the national average, according to an analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture Data.

The USDA rated 14.8 percent of Indiana households as having low or very low food security, in comparison to 13.7 percent nationally.

6.1 percent of Indiana households were classified as having very low food security, in comparison to 5.4 percent nationally.

The USDA defines low food security as “reports of reduced quality, variety, or desirability of diet. Little or no indication of reduced food intake.” Very low food security is defined as “reports of multiple indications of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake.”

Since 2014, when Indianapolis was rated worst in the nation for food deserts, various efforts have begun to decrease food insecurity in the state. A 2016 state bill was proposed to counteract food deserts specifically.

Food insecurity rates vary widely across the country. North Dakota has the lowest food insecurity rate at 8.5 percent, while Missouri has the highest at 20.8 percent (with 7.9 percent ranked as very low food security).


View chart in full screen

Maps: Best Bets for Coffee in South Bend? We Have You Covered

By Molly Seidel and Marie Fazio • February 20th, 2017

4095761228908ffabe41b311abc304aa
Forget ‘Bucks, SB-based Zen is the way to go (Source; ZenRoasters)

There’s certainly no shortage of coffee on the Notre Dame campus. Between overpriced Starbucks lattes and the brown java sludge brewing at ABP it’s never been more convenient to grab a caffeine kick between classes.

However, these spots lack the cozy atmosphere of a great coffee shop, or the community buzz of a local diner. Likewise, sometimes you want a really great bagel or plate of pancakes to go with that hot drink.

South Bend has seen a huge resurgence in local eateries over the past few years, and today there are more places to grab great coffee and food than ever. These cafes are based in the community and feature many local products such as Zen coffee (roasted right in South Bend) or organic produce from Michiana farms.

And the food options, ranging from loaded breakfast sandwiches at the General to steaming bagels at Stude’s, provide the perfect complement to a delicious cup of java.

While many students may be hesitant to travel beyond the security of the Notre Dame bubble, South Bend offers far more opportunities for coffee/brunching bliss than campus does. If you’re looking to break out of your coffee rut then this interactive map will lead you straight to your new favorite hangout. — Molly Seidel


Another point of view …

Of all the things that come to mind when one thinks of South Bend – Notre Dame football, its minor role in Indian removal, the Studebaker factory, etc. – great coffee isn’t normally one of them.

That, however, should change.

The South Bend area is full of delicious cafes and cozy coffee shops, great for studying, socializing, hearing live acoustic music, or just enjoying a strong cup of freshly brewed coffee. Forget Starbucks, Einstein’s, and Dunkin’ Donuts, these coffee shops brew the good stuff locally, and offer an unbeatable atmosphere to go along with it.

After extensive research using cafe reviews on Yelp and in-person testing performed by several coffee enthusiasts who may or may not be suffering from an addiction to caffeine, we have compiled a list of the best places to get coffee in the South Bend area. The cafes were judged on the quality of the coffee, the price-which is important to struggling college students, and overall vibe of the establishment – friendliness, localness, etc. — Marie Fazio

Going Mobile: Documenting Five Days in South Bend and Beyond …

By Data Indiana staff • February 6th, 2017

Sixteen Notre Dame students. Sixteen smartphones. Five days.

Student reporters were told to use only their phones apps to document various news events, features and points of interest around South Bend, the state, and on Notre Dame’s campus from Feb. 1 through Feb. 6. They used apps such as Hyperlapse (timelapse), Bubbli 360-degree photo bubbles and various photo and recording apps to document the stories.

Here’s what they found …

Gary Church Ruins

My American Ruins class at Notre Dame took a field trip to Gary, Indiana, and explored many abandoned sites in the city once anchored by US Steel.

City United Methodist Church, the crumbled building featured below, is Gary’s most famous ruin, and many photographers come to Gary to capture its haunting beauty. It was built in 1925 and closed in 1975, and at its peak boasted 3,000 members.

The class also visited a train station, high school auditorium, and housing for workers that was in similar conditions. While at the church, our class ran into two other photoshoots, a testament to understanding industrial ruins in America as tourist destinations. — Janet Stengle


Keenan Revue Ticket Lines and ‘Protest’

The Keenan Revue, composed of skits written and performed exclusively by members of Keenan Hall, has been an annual tradition at Notre Dame. It also draws just shy of 4,000 people to the Stepan Center, and the free tickets had students and others lining up for hours on Feb. 1 to get them.





This 360-degree photo bubble shot by Hannah Scherer shows just how long the lines were. Mouse over it to move the image or swipe it on a mobile device.

Meyo Invitational

The prestigious indoor meet was held at Notre Dame’s Loftus Sports Center on Feb. 5 and 6. The meet was telecast online on WatchESPN.


Hesburgh Library Updates

Marie Fazio takes us on a tour of the library’s renovations.