The Paradox of the Motor City

Spencer Fleury looks into the contradictory nature of his hometown Detroit; as the city commonly praised for its car culture is now being crushed by it.

Detroit became the car capital of the world by way of easy accessibility to raw materials, close proximity to water and rail transportation, and the historically fortunate location of Henry Ford's birthplace. And its built environment reflects its association with the automobile. "Detroit is the poster child for low-density urban sprawl. With nice, wide roads and endless parking, Detroit has physically changed itself over the years to accommodate the needs of the vehicles it produces." Fleury observes that this environment fails to offer the benefits that urban density can provide, and that the city is suffering from the repercussions of its sprawl-based development patterns.

"The entire metro Detroit region is having a lot of difficulty attracting educated, creative talent from the outside. What firms in the area are finding is that it isn't Detroit's, um, gritty reputation that's scaring people off. No, it's the sprawl. (And really, do read that link.) The inconvenience and ugliness of it all is preventing – or at the very least noticeably hindering – the city's rebirth."

Fleury, however, is hopeful that the emptying out of large sections of the city may provide an opportunity to retrofit its fabric to accommodate transit, cycling, and walkability.

Full Story: The irony of Detroit

Comments

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $199
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $14.95 a month

Stay thirsty, urbanists

These sturdy water bottles are eco-friendly and perfect for urbanists on the go.
$19.00
City Plate table setting

New Arrival! City Plates

City downtown cores printed on gorgeous decorative collectible porcelain plates.
$50.00