The image above is the block adjacent to my studio/home in Brush Park. What you can’t tell from the image is that just four blocks south sits an increasingly active downtown district, while just four blocks north sits Midtown, a bustling cultural district and future home to Whole Foods, the first in the city.
How does a city-center neighborhood – a prime location in most metropolitan areas, (Gold Coast in Chicago or Chelsea in Manhattan) – fall to such a fate of disfunction?
Depending on the day, the theory, the school, the political undertones, etc., one is likely to get a mixed bag of reasons for Detroit’s drastic decline, that which began in the latter half of the 20th century and continues (rapidly) today. I’ve been revisiting several texts in recent weeks, largely to filter fodder to my students, who have been tasked with imagining what the future of Detroit will look like. A tall order indeed.
While this blog never intends to be solely Detroit specific, the city does have a tendency to serve as an immediate backdrop for much of my thinking and exploration. Further, I find it challenging and somewhat useless to talk about the role design can/does play in public good problem-solving without addressing my present landscape – a post-industrial poster child for the demise of the American Dream. A sad story indeed.
Pete Saunder’s article addresses Detroit’s rapid decline in very accessible language. It’s a good read for anyone engaged in the realm of city-planning, urban studies, urban action and all the like. His main thesis is that Detroit, unlike any other major city, has consistently lacked planning for more than a century. No plan?! How can that be? Exactly…how can that be…