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Detroit

[ 102 ] November 13, 2012 |

So I am getting more than a bit sick and tired of poorly contextualized ruminations on the ruin landscape of Detroit. Some of this art and writing is interesting enough on its own. Marc Binelli’s piece for instance is alright and does sort of get at some of the deeper problems challenging Detroit. But looking at Detroit as the end of the world ignores the biggest reason why Detroit has reached this state. Deindustrialization of course plays a major role. But equally important, especially in Detroit, is continued residential segregation. If we isolate Detroit as the physical boundaries of that city alone, without paying much attention to the metro area, then we can create these apocalyptic constructions. But there is a tremendous amount of money in the suburbs around Detroit. What we are seeing is not the end of the world. It’s the logical consequence of white supremacy combined with corporate race-to-the-bottom policies.

Here’s another way to look at the problem:

This is a residential map of Detroit, with dots pointing to the racial makeup of neighborhoods. Guess which dots represent black and white? Bet you can’t tell!!! Yellow are Latinos. Not surprisingly, the boundary between black and white in the Detroit metro area corresponds closely to the Detroit city limits. We need to be talking about metro areas when thinking about cities, not just the central city isolated from the context of what is going on a mere few miles away.

In other words, anyone writing or filming anything about Detroit should be forced to read Thomas Sugrue’s The Origins of the Urban Crisis first. This John Patrick Leary essay in Guernica is also pretty fantastic.

Also, here’s the site with lots of those cool city segregation maps.

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Comments (102)

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  1. rea says:

    All you Eminiem fans–can you spot 8 Mile Rd.?

  2. Incontinentia Buttocks says:

    Good ol’ Hamtramck!

  3. rea says:

    1950 Census–population 1,849,568
    2010 Census–population 713,777

    • Erik Loomis says:

      Metro area population is far more important.

      • rea says:

        I’m not sure why you say that. The city’s population has undergone a catastrophic decline over that 60-year period. The metro area population, on the other hand, has gone up–1950 Census 3,219,256; 2010 Census 4,296,250 (although it’s declined slightly over the last 40 years, while the city’s decline is accelerating–see the Wikipedia article on Detroit for the numbers). But the point is, the city’s population is collapsing while the metro area’s population remains fairly stable. The collapse of the city’s population is the reason the city is full of abandoned buildings–the city was built to hold twice the population it now has.

        There are, of course, various economic, governmental, and structural reasons for the population change, but ultimtely it all boils down to white flight.

        • Erik Loomis says:

          Well that’s the point–people look at Detroit as this apocalyptic place but they don’t look at why. This is a story of white flight and institutionalized racism. But that’s not the story that is told in this ruin porn.

          • Kurzleg says:

            One wonders if market forces might swing things back around. Given these circumstances you’d expect loads of bargains to be had in Detroit proper. May take some time, of course, but it’s possible. Or are there obstacles an outsider might not know about?

            • rea says:

              The collapse of Detroit’s revenue base means that Detroit’s city income taxes are quite high, relative to the metro area. (That’s of course, ultimately product of white flight). The school system is a horror story (also white flight). The scale of the problem is too enormous to be readily solvable by private investment–yeah, you can buy old house cheap and rehab them, but what good does that do when other houses on the same block are burned-out wrecks? And ultimately, the white flight is still ongoing–the white people don’t want to live there, and the black people have no money, which makes reconstruction a problem..

            • Corey says:

              Hipsters are colonizing Detroit at a pretty good clip, similar to what happened in Brooklyn in the 1980s.

            • McKingford says:

              Unlikely. Detroit is almost certainly destined to be the first modern metropolis ghost town.

              Sure, you can buy a house for dirt cheap in parts of Detroit – but that’s exactly because of the workings of the market. Who wants a house in the middle of a field, with no utilities?

              I take the same issue with the people pushing “urban farming” as a viable alternative to remaking Detroit. Sorry, but no: although certain parts of the city now have the space to make certain types of “farming” available, the fact is that cities require a viable level of density in order to deliver urban services. In essence, you cannot have both the urban services of a city and farming. They are mutually exclusive.

              But the most chilling omen is the Detroit Works Project. Huge swaths of the city are going to be forcibly depopulated, by cutting off urban services, in an effort to concentrate what population there is left in the city into a viable density. Of course if you own a home in one of these areas, your house will become worthless.

              • mpowell says:

                It seems like a better solution would be just to start taking sections out of the edge of the city, selling them to private developers and moving the jurisdiction into the neighboring cities. Detroit as a political entity has no future, but the physical space ought to be rebuilt. This would also encourage increased density in the areas that remain in the city proper.

                • Murc says:

                  Detroit as a political entity has no future

                  … that’s not true. There are tons of cities with a smaller population than Metro Detroit that have a robust future as political entities. Hell, some of them even have shrinking populations.

                • What Murc said. It is very possible for a city to become better by becoming smaller. We’re just not used to that story.

                • bradP says:

                  … that’s not true. There are tons of cities with a smaller population than Metro Detroit that have a robust future as political entities. Hell, some of them even have shrinking populations.

                • mpowell says:

                  I could be wrong, but simply citing examples of smaller cities, even with shrinking populations, is totally irrelevant.

                  The problem with the way cities work in the United States is that the funding for city services comes from the people living in the geographical boundaries of the city. If you live outside the boundary, you pay taxes to a different entity. And everything is done with property taxes. You don’t want to be the only rich person in a poor community, because you will pay sky high property taxes because the rates have to be higher to get any kind of funding from a very cheap property valuation base. This creates a positive feedback loop for the kind of problems Detroit has experienced. Normally there are other forces at play that mitigate this effect, but the situation has become so dire in Detroit, I am skeptical that the trend can ever be reversed.

                  If the funding for Detroit was regionally based this would be a totally different picture. But the surrounding municipalities are not going to want any part of helping out Detroit, as a political entity, at this stage and have the political influence to insure they don’t. Letting them nibble at the edges if certainly not optimal, but it seems to me that there are no other paths forward.

                • bradP says:

                  … that’s not true. There are tons of cities with a smaller population than Metro Detroit that have a robust future as political entities. Hell, some of them even have shrinking populations.

                  Detroit’s budgetary situation is absurdly bad.

                  Per capita debt in the city is extremely high already, and it seems like a catch-22:

                  Does the city attempt to grow to help assuage the costs of poor management in the past, or does it attempt to shrink responsibly in order to cut maintenance costs in the future?

                • djw says:

                  If you live outside the boundary, you pay taxes to a different entity. And everything is done with property taxes.

                  I don’t know about Detroit specifically, but this isn’t true in many cases. Some cities have municipal income taxes. This can create additional problems (suburbs that can get by on property taxes luring away employers) but it’s the strategy that keeps Dayton (which is in some ways Detroit in miniature) from being completely broke. Virtually none of my colleagues actually live in Dayton, but since we work here we all pay 2.5%.

                • Hogan says:

                  Philadelphia also has a wage tax that applies to people who live outside and work inside the city, and other taxes (hotel rooms, rental cars) that largely hit visitors rather than residents.

                • Linnaeus says:

                  I don’t know about Detroit specifically, but this isn’t true in many cases. Some cities have municipal income taxes.

                  Detroit does have a city income tax: it’s 2.5% for residents and 1.25% for non-residents. Both rates are supposed to go down a tenth of a percent or so under an agreement made with the state some years ago, but the mayor tried to get that waived. I don’t know if he succeeded.

                • RedSquareBear says:

                  I think Omni Consumer Products just submitted a bid to do just that…

              • Doug says:

                Of course if you own a home in one of these areas, your house will become is probably already worthless.

                FTFY. (Although “worthless” merely in the sense of re-sale.)

          • Lee says:

            Most of the rust belt cities, the ones currently suffering decline, actually peaked in population either in the 1950 or 1960 census. Mass suburbinzation didn’t really take off until after 1960. There was a lot in the 1950s but it really accelerated in 1960s.

            The other rust built cities aren’t doing that spectacularly either. St. Louis was hit with an equal or steeper population decline than Detroit. People use Detroit as an example becuase it was the most physically and economically dramatic decline.

            Yet, I think that suburbinization was inevitable in America even without racism. The ideal home has been a single-family home in a rural area or small town since the get go. Its deeply part of the cultural DNA. The cities that have grown since 1960 are basically cities that annexed a lot of suburbs without urbanizing them.

            • Murc says:

              The cities that have grown since 1960 are basically cities that annexed a lot of suburbs without urbanizing them.

              NYC is an exception to this, kinda-sorta.

              • Lee says:

                NYC had the luck of having about equal influx and outflux before 1970. After recovering from the 1970s, NYC began growing again.

                It also helped that NYC’s economy didn’t suburbanize the way other cities did. This meant that hundreds of thousands needed to go into Manhattan for work everyday.

            • Yet, I think that suburbinization was inevitable in America even without racism. The ideal home has been a single-family home in a rural area or small town since the get go.

              If you look at suburbanization in the 1920s, you’ll find that “suburbanization” does not necessarily mean “in a rural area or small town.” The suburbs of the 1920s were outlying neighborhoods within the city itself, extensions of the existing inner-city neighborhoods, but still geographically and functionally part of the city as a whole.

              Suburbanization is not the same thing as sprawl.

          • Murc says:

            people look at Detroit as this apocalyptic place but they don’t look at why.

            I would go so far as to say that getting to ‘why’ is actually going too far.

            I question the ‘apocalyptic urban ruin’ narrative regardless of the ‘whys’ provided. These people didn’t die when a neutron bomb exploded. There wasn’t a zombie apocalypse. Aliens didn’t invade.

            People just moved away, and the city failed to deal with depopulation in a responsible manner. That’s unfortunate, and a tremendous scandal, but its not the “disaster” people make it out to be. People talk about it like its some great tragedy.

            Cities decline and even die. It happens. A thousand years ago Sarum was one of the most important cities in southern England, today its a grassy ruin. And that didn’t happen because of war, or disease; it happened because people moved away.

            This is only more of a ‘disaster’ than people continually moving from rural areas to urban ones because of the failure of land use, which has adversely impacted the people remaining within Metro Detroit.

            People talk about Detroit and the other rust belt cities like they got hit by some kind of depopulation hurricane, a force of nature. And that’s unhelpful period regardless of the reasons you give for it.

            • bradP says:

              People just moved away, and the city failed to deal with depopulation in a responsible manner.

              How do you deal with maintaining infrastructure in a city that falls to roughly 35-40% of peak population over a generation or shrinks 25% over a decade?

              When the city government starts up a plan to cut off utilities to certain neighborhoods to consolidate service usage, I think the possibility of “reasonable” responses has gone out the window.

            • Linnaeus says:

              Cities decline and even die.

              True, but some don’t, or at least manage to last longer than others. So I think knowing the “why”s can be quite helpful.

            • And that didn’t happen because of war, or disease; it happened because people moved away.

              Talk about begging the question!

              Did Detroit get hit by a people-moving-away bomb?

              • bradP says:

                How exactly is that begging the question?

                • It accepts that people moving away is a natural event and the primary cause, when the reason people moved away is the very question being disputed.

                • Murc says:

                  It accepts that people moving away is a natural event and the primary cause

                  It accepts no such thing.

                  It merely posits that “post-apocalyptic” scenarios re: the urban blight of Detroit and other cities is unhelpful, because the unstated implications of such scenarios are that the cities were walloped by something akin to an Act of God or ravaged by war.

                • Hogan says:

                  I’m not sure “apocalypse” implies “there’s nothing anyone could have done about it.”

          • wengler says:

            That’s part of the story. The other part is the sort of car culture that Detroit perfected and inflicted on the entire country.

            Why live in cramped apartments with no yards next to black people when you can move to the suburbs?

            • JazzBumpa says:

              There’s another aspect to this that usually gets overlooked. Detroit has decades of really shitty local government. Coleman Young was TEH SUXXOR, and Kwami Kilpatrick was a very unfunny joke.

              In between, there have been a couple of mayors who tried, but the job is ruinous to anyone who takes it seriously.

              • Jim48043 says:

                There was exactly one person holding the office of mayor of Detroit between Coleman and Kwame: Dennis Archer. He took himself very seriously and eventually quit because he was unable to accept anything but unqualified admiration. He obtained a sinecure with a Detroit law firm and was president of the ABA. IMHO he did a lot of very stupid and selfish things, especially his bright idea about a casino district which resulted in no casinos in the district, but a complete devastation of what had been there.

          • John says:

            Detroit seems to be an extreme case, though. Why have Chicago and Philadelphia, for instance, managed to remain relatively diverse and avoid massive population declines (Chicago decline, 1950-2010: 25.6%; Philadelphia decline, 1950-2010: 26.3%; Detroit decline, 1950-2010: 61.4%)? They both suffered from significant problems with white flight and institutionalized racism, and are doing much, much better than Detroit.

            • Hogan says:

              More diversified economies, for one thing.

              • John says:

                Indeed. Which is why Erik’s contention that the story is just about white flight and institutionalized racism is strikingly incomplete. Basically every American city has had problems with institutionalized racism, and many have had problems with white flight. But many of these have not become as blighted as Detroit.

              • Don K says:

                Mmmm… okay, in the case of Chicago I’ll accept that diversification led to a more robust economy, but what about Philly? Philadelphia’s industrial economy collapsed as much as Detroit’s did, and yet Philly is a much healthier city than Detroit is. And it’s not as though Philadelphia has a robust financial services sector. PNB? First Pennsylvania Bank? PSFS? Gone, similar to NBD, Michigan National, and Comerica (still around, but headquartered in Texas).

                From 1950-2000, population growth in the Detroit area was similar to that of the Philadelphia area, but something happened that caused the population of Detroit proper to collapse in a way that Philadelphia just didn’t. And substantial numbers of whites still live within the Philadelphia city limits. Why is that?

                Racism? Yeah sure there’s plenty of racism in the Detroit area, but any city that could elect Frank Rizzo as mayor has nothing to lecture anyone about regarding racism.

                • John says:

                  Well, one difference is research universities. Detroit has, well, basically none (Wayne State is technically a research university, but at about the lowest tier possible). Philly has a top tier one in Penn, and secondary ones in Temple and Drexel. Penn and Temple have been drivers in gentrification in West Philly and North Philly, respectively (with Penn being much more advanced on that front), and Penn, in particular, is a huge driver of the local economy. Plus, all those schools plus Thomas Jefferson University have medical schools, with all the hospital concentration that implies. There’s just one in Detroit, at Wayne State.

                  So I think that’s a major issue. There’s other obvious differences – a more extensive public transit system in Philly, a natural influx of tourism around the historical monuments, proximity to New York and Washington, better urban design, older and better housing stock in the central city.

                  Certainly “racism” is not such a difference.

  4. H. Wren says:

    I would add David Freund’s Colored Property: State Policy and White Racial Politics in Suburban America to that reading list. (People should read it after they read the Sugrue, though.)

  5. Josh G. says:

    All big cities went through “white flight” during the 1970s. Some of it was just racism, and some of it was legitimate concern over crime and school quality. (And again, while these latter two factors are often used as euphemisms for race, that isn’t always the case. Crime was really much worse in the 1970s than now, especially in urban areas.)

    But Detroit specifically had it worse than most other cities, because they had Coleman Young. He was mayor of Detroit for 20 years (1974-1993), and he was by a wide margin the country’s worst big-city mayor during this time frame. While Detroit was going to be hammered to some extent anyway due to changes in trade policy, Young made things much worse, and drastically reduced the number of people who felt they had a stake in the city of Detroit.

    • rea says:

      Coleman Young was nothing more than a typical big city ethnic machine politician–there were tons of Irish and Italian versions of him in other cities (and for that matter, in Detroit). The notion that he was history’s greatest monster is absurd.

      • Lee says:

        This. Coleman Young wasn’t a very good mayor but most of the big city mayors weren’t very good adminsitrators even before white flight. NYC mayors were Tammany Hacks until the Depression for the most part. Philadelphia had a string of GOP machine mayors, also hacks. Same with Chicago, Baltimore, and the rest.

        Coleman Young just had the distinction of being the last one. Even if he was a good adminstrator, its not really clear if he could do anything to prevent the decline of Detroit.

    • Colman Young wasn’t unique.

      What makes Detroit unique was its longstanding hostility to mass transit.

      • Linnaeus says:

        He wasn’t unique, but it’s hard getting white Detroiters (like my family) to understand that. He is probably the local politician most despised by the area’s white population that is Boomer-age or older, most of whom are convinced he completed the city’s ruin begun by the 1967 riots.

      • Jim48043 says:

        It wasn’t Detroit’s hostility to mass transit. It was the short-sighted hostility of Oakland and Macomb counties to the immediate north of town.

  6. rea says:

    An orphan reply–I should not have fed the troll . . .

    • mark f says:

      That poor guy’s about to be deleted for (at least) the third time. That’s one persistent case of the blahs.

      Most people would be honored to have a luminary like Charles Murray as a reader.

      • Malaclypse says:

        Personally, I’m shocked to see that JenBob has revised exactly none of his assumptions in the wake of what a balanced individual would regard as crushing empirical destruction of one’s worldview.

        • mark f says:

          I’m starting to wonder if it’s a bot. The comment is re-posted after deletion with amazing speed.

          • Malaclypse says:

            Alternatively, Jenny is sitting in some basement apartment, weeping angry, bitter tears over last week, and lashing out the only way he knows how – obsessively posting the same cut-and-paste racist rant over and over and over.

            Truly, Darleen Click can be proud of her readers.

  7. Todd says:

    What is this blotch of red in the central sea of blue? What is being done to relieve them?

    We need a hero to liberate them from the scourge of lowered property values and …um….blight. If only there was a proven commander with some extra time on his hands to save the day.

  8. Western Dave says:

    @Josh. Sorry no. As the Sugrue book makes clear, white flight and deindustrialization were already well under way in Detroit even before 1967 and Detroit’s brand of racial/spatial politics were especially virulent. Further, the biggest problem in Detroit currently is land speculation. Want to set up a factory in one of the abandoned ones? Forget it, the move from holding company to holding company most of whom seem to be more interested in paper losses rather than actual tenants. It’s sometimes impossible to locate owners. I’m not defending Coleman Young, but it’s not like his predecessors were any better.

    • Kurzleg says:

      In my comment up thread, this is the sort of thing I had in mind when asking about issues outsiders might not be aware of:

      Further, the biggest problem in Detroit currently is land speculation. Want to set up a factory in one of the abandoned ones? Forget it, the move from holding company to holding company most of whom seem to be more interested in paper losses rather than actual tenants. It’s sometimes impossible to locate owners.

      • mark f says:

        I also remember someone (Yglesias?) recently highlighted an article about how Detroit’s municipal government had such poor records of property plots and its own land ownership that many long-vacant lots are unable to be sold.

        • Murc says:

          … how the hell does that work?

          The city of Detroit is a GOVERNMENT. Eminent domain the land, make a good-faith effort to find the owners, stick the money you owe them in escrow. You reclaim the land and re-establish title and after awhile you can probably reclaim the money too.

          • mark f says:

            Well, you made me Google it.

            Though the New Suburbanism is happening all over Detroit, because the city has no mechanism for facilitating the transfer of vacant, city-owned land to private ownership, accumulating vacant lots can be exceedingly difficult. Individuals wishing to purchase tax-foreclosed vacant land invariably experience frustration at each stage of the process, from the identification of the lot’s ownership (the City maintains no comprehensive database of the properties it owns), through the receipt of the title deed: a “quit-claim deed” that offers no guarantee that the title is not clouded with liens, utility bills and the like.

            • Murc says:

              Ah, that’s a bit different from “we are actually unable to sell you this land.” More like “we don’t care enough to make it possible to sell you this land.”

              Fair enough.

            • Emma in Sydney says:

              Like the lack of an electoral system that works, the lack of a property title system that works, in the United States, never ceases to amaze.

              Torrens title registration, people. Working in New South Wales since 1863.

      • rea says:

        I’m not sure it’s specultion so much as the reverse–property is a liability rather than an asset, and people don’t want to be on the record as owning it.

        • Linnaeus says:

          For years, the abandoned Packard plant was probably the most famous example of this (at least that I can think of), although IIRC, the city now thinks it knows who owns it and it’s been leaning on the owner to begin demolition of the plant.

  9. spencer says:

    I’ve done a bit of writing about Detroit on my own blog (haven’t updated it for a couple weeks, busy with other things), and one of the more interesting things I found was that certain suburbs just north of 8 Mile have lost population right along with the city, but have not actually become more “black,” which Detroit itself unquestionably has since 1970.

    It’s a fascinating place, my hometown – so much more than ruin porn would have you believe.

  10. Steve says:

    Regarding Pittsburgh, I’m not feeding the troll (who will hopefully be deleted soon), but our map is pretty interesting too, another case study in segregation, but more like an a chain of islands, or an atoll, less like a continent. The same story of White flight, racial segregation and urban decay is apparent in neighborhoods like Homewood and the Hill District.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkingsf/5010388715/sizes/o/in/set-72157624812674967/

  11. stjust says:

    Detropia: A compassionate, confused study of a devastated city

    Detropia portrays the ravaging of Detroit and its population as the genuine historic and human tragedy it is. The central weakness of the film, however, stems from the difficulty Ewing and Grady have in truly digging into and coming to grips with the social and economic processes at work.

    http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/oct2012/detr-o11.shtml

  12. Marc says:

    The number of abandoned houses in Detroit is just enormous, and the fact that major buildings are also abandoned just adds to the post-apocalyptic feeling. People were stunned by the South Bronx too, back when all of those buildings were abandoned. The fact that the Bronx is no longer a focus of “ruin porn”, while Detroit has just gotten worse, is a reflection of the fact that it’s possible for things to get better.

    The tragedy of Detroit is that it was made possible by a confluence of many bad factors. Racism surely, and large economic trends. But also bad management, corruption, bad laws, and poor choices by elected officials at all levels.

    If Detroit is ever to recover it will need both a better legal infrastructure and a complete replacement of a very dysfunctional political culture.

  13. witless chum says:

    My understanding (I’ve only been to downtown and a few others areas a few times) is that Detroit has a uniquely bad urban design because a lot of it grew up between 1900 and 1930. It didn’t have the kind of older urban neighborhoods with apartments, mixed uses and all that good shit Jane Jacobs talks about. So it didn’t have the desire to live in neighborhoods with that physical layout as a countervailing force against racism to keep some money in the city. The areas that are depopulated are basically suburbs in design that just happen to be in the same political unit as the relatively small bunch of tall buildings downtown.

    True? Truish?

  14. joe from Lowell says:

    You think a city that got rid of all the racist cracker ass honkies would be a very nice place to live.

  15. Mass transit is the answer. Let’s give all the fine, upstanding citizens of Highland Park a cheap and easy way to come into the suburbs. I’m sure Livonia and Farmington would really benefit from this beautiful enrichment of diversity.

    • Linnaeus says:

      I understand you’re speaking tongue-in-cheek, but mass transit would help.

    • Malaclypse says:

      Didn’t North Andover close their MBTA station back in the 80s precisely because those people could use it to come to town?

      • Linnaeus says:

        It’s funny – in the Detroit ‘burb where I grew up, the mayor (now recalled, though it’s mostly symbolic because the city has a council-manager form of government) was vocally opposed to the federally-funded transit center that was going to be built after years of planning. Her opposition was based on the silly argument that the federal government needed to save money, but one of the local “experts” who was against it claimed it would be a “heroin express” bringing people from places like Pontiac. Metro Detroiters know exactly what “heroin express” and “Pontiac” mean.

        • mark f says:

          I’d take black leaders more seriously if they’d just quit playing that darn race card.

          • witless chum says:

            It’s funny how the late Coleman Young is reviled, but the still running Oakland County L. Brooks Patterson is considered a charming, folksy character.

            Brooksy was, I thought, in league with Kwame Kilpatrick during his term in the mayor’s office given that Patterson showed up to denounce Kwame and endorse his opponent at the just the right time in the election when Kwame was busily trying to paint his challenger as a tool of the white surburbs.

            • Linnaeus says:

              Yeah, people forget that Patterson made his name by enthusiastic participation in the area’s racial politics during the school busing fight.

              And now, he’s considered a moderate.

              • witless chum says:

                Well, that’s as much about the west Michigan Republicans as it is about Patterson. He’s still in favor of a functioning government providing services to its citizens in his county at least. The Oakland County Republicans may be racist as all hell, but they’re still more reality-based than the Ottawa County variety.

                Houghton County is probably actual the worst strain of Michigan Republican, in my mind, but there’s only a few of them and nobody runs their kooks for senate.

      • Holden Pattern says:

        That’s also part of the reason that BART stops in Millbrae on the SF Peninsula and doesn’t ring SF Bay. The VERY nice suburbs south of there didn’t want to make it easy to come to or through their town.

        • Josh G. says:

          We have similar issues in metro Atlanta. It would be economically very beneficial if MARTA was expanded to go all the way up SR 400 (instead of just to Exit 5), but many of the people who live in the suburbs further north are afraid of this happening. Many of them don’t go to much effort to hide the racial subtext: a common “joke” around here is that MARTA stands for “Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta”.

          • LeeEsq says:

            Hilarious (Sarcasm). People really shouldn’t try to be witty, it usually ends up revealing their ugly side.

            I thought that the main reason why BART didn’t ring the bay was cost. It was also supposed to go into Marin, Napa, and Sonoma counties. I saw a map of the original part plans online. If actually built it would have really integrated the region.

            • Holden Pattern says:

              It’s cost now, but at the time it was originally being built, less so. From what I know, the Mid-Peninsula suburbs really dug their heels in on rights of way and land for the stations because they didn’t want that kind of public transit going to / through their town.

              The Commuter Rail is different (as the name suggests).

        • John says:

          This seems to be a common feeling among wealthy suburbs, but have there been any wealthy suburbs in the actual world that have been damaged by having mass transit in them?

  16. JB2 says:

    The relatively tiny red area, just to the left and up from the larger red area represented by Hamtramck, is the 7 Mile Chaldean neighborhood between John R and Woodward. Sadly, it’s been largely abandoned in the last 10-15 years.

    Southwest Detroit (generally referred to as Mexicantown) is thriving, although poverty and crime are evident. Other areas near the river will continue to hang in there (Downtown, West Village, Indian Village, Islandview) – it’s still waterfront property, after all.

    Wayne State and the Art Museum aren’t going anywhere, so the hipster-fueled mid-town revival will continue. The other principal hipster enclaves, Woodbridge and Corktown, are well-situated right in between mid-town and Southwest.

  17. [...] Lawyers, Guns and Money, Erik Loomis maps Detroit. The extent to which the borders of the City of Detroit overlap with African-American majority [...]

  18. Dave says:

    My hometown of Memphis is a smaller scale version of this. Here’s the map.

    The city is pretty strictly segregated aside from the middle part of the city which is aptly called Midtown. That’s a very old area of the city which consists of older white people who didn’t participate in white flight and younger liberals.

    There is also some mix in the north and southeastern part. But most of the money is in that red area. And many of those people often complain about the downtown area of the city. All I hear is either an ignorance of the history of white flight or just outright racism.

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  20. Steve says:

    Rhetorical questions.

  21. Steve says:

    Oh, wait! No! I know! Five superbowl rings!

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