For my policy class, this was another article of the week response that I wrote. The article of the week assignments are articles from reliable news sources that students bring in, tying into our class, and us responding to that article.
This week the article was about Detroit, and the situation of that city. We read an article from TIME Magazine (https://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2030761,00.html), and then I chose to go to a few more sources, including a documentary by Johnny Knoxville (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joMysMDHdb4). With this article and documentary at my disposal, here is the paper that I wrote.
Daniel Okrent and Steven Gray, “The Future of Detroit: How to Shrink a City.” Thursday Nov 11 2010: Pages 1-7.
Detroit, the toilet of America. The destruction of the American Dream. These are the stereotypes that Americans have learned to accept about the former bustling metropolis. Once the fourth largest city in America, Detroit has lost over half a million residents in the last half century. It is true, countless architectural feats have been left for dead, making parts of the city appear like a ghost town. Nature is taking over homes as if finally reaching the tipping point from being killed by the auto industry. The city, to many, is a lost cause.
I would argue as many Detroiters would, that this city is a product of the American Dream. I would also like to believe that it still is, and will continue to be in the future. Detroit was an ideal city for millions after World War 2. It actually had the highest income per household in America for a city. When the auto industry collapsed, the city went hand in hand. Detroit was built for cars by cars. This drove citizens to nearby suburbs and beyond, and over time, Detroit was an eerie place to live. Detroit can fit Boston, Manhatten, and San Francisco all within its city limits. For such a huge city built around road systems, streets and neighborhoods are completely unoccupied, leaving some loyal residents as the sole owners of their streets. In TIME Magazine’s article on how to “fix” Detroit, they stated that the city needed to be reduced in size. I concur, in that a working urban environment involves people interacting with each other, which in turn spurs innovation and creative ideas. As it is, those isolated homes outside of still populated neighborhoods are sucking resources and services into areas that really don’t need, or deserve them any more. If money can be concentrated into save-able or thriving neighborhoods, that would benefit Detroit greatly. For the ever loyal residents of those outlying homes, they’ve even stated that they would stay if resources are cut off. This ties back to my original statement that I believe Detroit can thrive and still be a model of the American Dream.
The American Dream, as defined by society, is the ability to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. In this new brand of city, modeled and shaped by its citizens, anything is possible. Yes, it’s true, the city could collapse and rot there for eternity. Yet, I think that it will go down the other path, which involves innovative ideas, a flourishing art community, and an opportunity of success for countless entrepreneurs and individuals. With the city as their canvas, and endless amounts of street and buildings at their disposal, Detroit could become the world’s largest art exhibit containing a diverse and flourishing city inside of it. My plan of action would be to place any remaining citizens closer to the downtown area and any surrounding neighborhoods that are still alive. The remaining abandoned areas could become unbelievable areas for multiple purposes including art, history, and possibly even shelter for homeless people. When the city has been proportioned down to a manageable size, this area could soon bloom. With more money to go to the areas where there is a dense population, schools could be improved, a public transportation system could be put in place, and independent businesses could thrive. The schools of Detroit are underfunded and has a depressing drop out rate from its public school system, which clearly needs to be fixed. A public transportation could be implemented with ease (as pointed out by Time) with Woodward Ave as the center point, and having all other streets leading to it connecting neighborhoods and localizing the city. Detroit is definitely not dead yet.
With so many young and innovative people already finding their new lives in Detroit to be amazing. the American Dream has perfect soil to take root in. Citizens are molding what goes on in their city. The chance to create this new breed of city in America is very rare and if Detroit pulls through, it could be a reminder to the world that we, as Americans, are still here, and moving forward.
Thank you for reading.