Saturday, October 18, 2014

Notes From Detroit

I have been traveling and I am still digesting my time in Detroit. I am not unused to seeing areas that are a bit on the downside. But the scale and the demographic and economic realities of Detroit are still taking awhile to settle in. The thing to keep in mind about Detroit is that its population has declined to approximately 36% of its peak population of 1.8 million in 1950 to less than 700,000 today with a drop of over 200,000 since 2009.
So some notes mostly in pictures. I'll put up some positive stuff later.

A pioneer spirit despite being on the same street as the homes shown in the first picture

Empty buildings and lots and note the gutted street lights

Scrapping buildings can be hazardous

Th famous and sad Michigan Central Station building

Central Station from a different angle

The Book Tower on the left has been completely vacant since 2009

Pedestrian overpass from parking garage to the Book Tower

Geese on an urban street. Grass area was formerly home sites now long gone

Fairly typical scenes in many neighborhoods


Quiet open space area was formerly all urban density homes

A street that has lost all its homes

The nearby arterial street has lost all its shops but not the buildings

Boarded up but still in good shape
Typical listings for homes like this one were between $5,000 and $15,000 and seemed to be mostly dependent on the condition of the neighboring homes

Truck garden and green house on what had been a fully urban street

The level of abandonment is not captured above. There were miles of streets with far more burned out or vacant homes and apartments throughout multiple neighborhoods.

Planning challenges markedly different than the  planning challenges facing most Washington State cities. Where Washington State's Growth Management Act requires planning costs of infrastructure for growing population, Detroit is now having to consider the cost of maintaining urban level services to areas that have been and are continuing to go through negative growth. A difficult challenge as tax base declines. There are some lessons here - just hard to think through.   

1 comment:

lance sjogren said...

We have been living in an era of population and economic growth. That leads us to the illusion that is the normal state of affairs. Especially if we happen to have the good fortune to live our entire lifetime during such a growth phase. Detroit is a sobering reminder that just as surely as night follows day, rising civilizations eventually fall. And hopefully, leave a seed behind to be reborn.