36 thoughts on “Urban Blog Assignment #3

  1. I am extremely interested in the blog topic this week. These photos are haunting, but for some reason it is hard to tear my eyes away. It is saddening how an area that was once thriving has become a victim of circumstance. My mind immediately goes to Detroit, probably because that is the city I have been visually exposed to the most. I’m not sure if I am just a lover of lost causes, or if I am more fascinated with the turn of events that lead to Detroit’s current state. The photos look like they were taken in a war zone, but these places where a victim of loss of industry, and sprawl.

    My question is: is there hope for places like this? There was an article in the Economist about the potential hope for Detroit in 2011. After reading this article and many like it, it is important to understand the growth of cities during the industrial revolution. Detroit was once one of America’s most powerful and fastest growing cities, now it is the hub for industrial ruins. From 1900 to 1950 the population of Detroit grew from under half a million to just shy of two million. The population is now falling to around 700,000. Now it is known as the, “nation’s largest-ever municipal bankruptcy.” How did the industrial mecca of America become a city with the largest population decrease in the nation? Maybe it was a reliance on one industry. It’s no secret that the automobile industry dominated Detroit’s economy, it was even known as “Motor City”. The decline started with decentralization, which was the idea that industry should be regional which lead to the discernment of job opportunities. After this new technology and machinery began to replace the need for workers leading to the cease of certain jobs altogether. The lack of industrial diversity is the main reason for the state Detroit is in today, couple that with weak leadership and a crippled economy and you have the perfect recipe with large scale urban destruction. So back to my original question; is there hope for places like this? I want to believe there is hope, but I’m not sure the steps a municipality would have to grow economically are possible. Sure there is a huge number of small scale innovation and a huge amount of creativity in Detroit right now, but it is not enough to revive the city. Another important thing that to have change before the economy grows is the connotation linked with the city. If too much negativity is associated with a place, how could you expect people to come back in and re-build it? Whenever you google Detroit the first link is either a crime report, or images that can be described as “ruin porn”. I feel like this is a task that is almost possible to achieve, if you change the way people see something, you could potentially change the way it operates.

    In conclusion I have discovered, I am a hopeless optimist. I think one of the reasons I am interested in the current and past situation of Detroit is the impending and apparent loss of culture that has and will be effect of further degradation. I am inspired as a landscape architect by the work citizens are doing there, and hope it continues.


  2. Since its inception, cities have emerged in places where there is surplus production, one that goes beyond the subsistence needs of a population. Urbanization, therefore, has always been a class phenomenon, since the control over the use of this overproduction always typically remained in the hands of a few. Under capitalism, there emerged a close connection between system development and urbanization.
    Capitalists have to produce beyond their costs for profit. This, in turn, must be reinvested to generate more profit. The perpetual need to find fertile areas for income generation and for their reinvestment is what shapes the capitalist policy.
    If there is not enough purchasing power in the market then you need to find new markets, expanding foreign trade, promoting new products and lifestyles, creating new credit instruments, and financing state and private spending. The huge mobilization for the war effort temporarily resolved the question of how to invest surplus capital, a problem that had seemed so intractable in the 30s, and unemployment that accompanied it.
    It brought a system of highways, transformation of infrastructure, expansion to the suburbs and a complete re-engineering, not only the city but of the entire metropolitan area, it helped solve the problem of application of money. Therefore, It used new financial institutions and tax schemes that liberated the credit to finance urban sprawl. Taken at the national level, all major metropolitan centers of the country, this process played a crucial role in the stabilization of global capitalism after 1945, a period when the US was able to drive the entire world economy not communist accumulating trade deficits. The call sub-urbanization of the United States not only involved the renovation of infrastructure. It brought about a radical change in lifestyle, bringing new products, from houses to refrigerators and air conditioners as well as two car garage and a huge increase in oil consumption. Also changed the political landscape, for the very subsidized home for the middle class changed the community action focus, which rose to the defense of property values and individual identity, tilting the vote from the suburbs to conservatism. It was said that the owners of the home, overwhelmed by debts would be less likely to strike.
    This project managed to ensure social stability, albeit at the cost of emptying the city centers and generate urban conflicts between those, especially blacks, to whom access to the new prosperity was denied. In the late 60 the urbanist Jane Jacobs and activist, author of Death and Life of Great Cities, proposed an aesthetic that returned to value life in the neighborhoods. But the suburbs had been built and the radical change of lifestyle they symbolized had many social consequences.

    In a world where everything gets exaggerated dimensions, the reduction of some urban centers seems a nonsense. Cleveland, Ohio, who lived his glory days at the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth when it was one of the American industrialization and oil capital. The city, which grew to almost 1 million inhabitants in the 1950s, now has only 478 000.
    In the 50s and 60s, the city has suffered from deindustrialisation of the stampede of whites who, seeing the black population grow, decided to transfer their families to neighboring cities United States and also with the so-called white flight.
    The stampede of whites who, seeing the black population grow, decided to relocate their families to neighboring towns. What you see in Cleveland is not an isolated phenomenon. In various parts of the world, urban centers that had better days are being abandoned due to falling birth, decay of the sectors that were the mainstay of its economy and financial depression. This is the case of Detroit, state of Michigan, which was once the world capital of the American automobile industry and grew to nearly 2 million people in the 50. Today, as Cleveland, is reduced to less than half. In some neighborhoods, you can find a house occupied by block. You begin to realize that the glories of the past will not return ever again.

  3. The abandonment of American cities, in the 1970’s, to suburban areas is still an issue in Detroit. The residents who could afford to move to the suburbs did. They left to escape the pollution, overcrowding, and not to mention all the post WWII promoting of the “American Dream.”
    After WWII, the demobilization of troops created a massive population of men wanting to marry or already married men to find places to live with their families. With their veteran benefits and cheap mortgages through the FHA the American Dream was created. This created communities where structural racism ran rampant. These communities were predominantly young, white families.
    This left the lower class and minority populations, like the Irish, German, Russian, and Chinese, in the inner city. The problem with this is that the inner city then had too many abandoned buildings and was not collecting very high tax revenue. Without a high enough tax revenue the city cannot take care of the buildings to bring new residents in. They also did not have the money or the want to build enough public housing for those who were still left in the city. What public housing there was, was usually built on top of the slums that they were trying to stop. Because of this taxes were raised within the inner city. Compared to the suburbs, poorer areas now had a higher tax rate than the wealthier suburbs. If there was ever a chance that people would want to move back to the city this problem would have stopped them. There was also an issue with red-lining, which would not allow people to buy property in certain areas whether they had the money to or not.
    All of these factors led to the abandonment of Detroit that we are still dealing with today. There have been many ideas to “take back” the city. The problem with most of these ideas is that all they do is displace the poor classes. When you displace people you create homelessness and slums. Especially if you do not create somewhere for people to go, even worse if you make laws against feeding or helping the poor class. These people are literally being punished for being poor. Because there is such a stigma against inner city people discrimination occurs. This includes places like schools, a place where the people receiving the discrimination are children!

  4. After WWII, American cities went through a drastic change. Vets returning from war had benefits and were done living in crowed conditions. They wanted their own house, yard, car, and family. They wanted what was promised to them, the American dream. Because it was so easy to get all the things they wanted, a lot of men moved out of the city with their family and moved to the suburb leaving the city pretty much abandoned except for the poor souls who didn’t have the means to move out. This started a chain reaction throughout American cities. Once vibrant and booming, they were now impetuous. Public housing became a negative idea and because the government was no longer involved, they quickly became run down and undesirable to live and were usually built on slums. The people who usually lived here were those who didn’t have the money to move to the suburbs. They were usually on welfare and didn’t have jobs which just encouraged them to stay in them longer.
    Another reason that the inner cities were abandoned is because with the growth of new suburbs comes the growth of new businesses which inner city folk couldn’t access. All the focus that used to be on the CBD was shifted toward the suburbs because that’s where the money and future was. Loss of war production shut down a lot of factories in cities that depended on them for income and jobs. It was a viscous circle that was only getting worse.
    Eventually, individuals began missing the benefits of living in inner cities. In the 1990s, cities began seeing redevelopment. Low property costs allow companies to buy land back from the minorities and give it to the middle class. They demand better schools and security than the city has to offer which drives out people who already lived there. They didn’t want to mixed in with minorities. A lot of minorities couldn’t even live in the cities once the middle class started coming back in because it became too expensive. The had adapted to a life that would now be changed. Mental hospitals released patients who took over one room apartments and public housing which segregated the populations even more. Eventually, some inner cities began seeing a positive change, but this wasn’t true for all cities that experienced total abandonment.
    Detroit is popular for its dead streets and run down buildings. In the postwar era, nearly 150,000 jobs were lost. Detroit was a city that rose and fell with the automobile and in the 1970s the industry suffered setbacks. There was no need for its giant manufacturing spaces. Freeway construction cut through dense populations of the cities ripping out buildings as it went. Families living in this zone of destruction hardly had any time to look for a new place to live and were instantly forced to go to public housing. This lead to overcrowding and riots. People were killed, buildings were burned down, and families became homeless. This further plummeted Detroit into debt and it has never been the same again.
    American cities all went through a decline during the post war era. Some cities reformed while others never saw healthy redevelopment. It is a tragic thing and unfortunately it will take certain cities centuries to regain it’s population and popularity.

  5. How do you know when a building, or a city, is at the end of its life? The easy answer is that a building or city has died when its structural system can no longer physically support the activities it is meant to contain. The more difficult answer is that a building or city has died when it’s internal program can no longer support the people and culture it is meant to contain. How do we know when a way of life is dead? Must we wait until we see boarded windows and deteriorated furniture, or is there warning? In the case of the photographs above, it is clear that Detroit can no longer support the life of its people, and has been this way since the middle of the twentieth century, when national economic and social practices changed dramatically with little warning.

    With the industrial decline of the 1950s, and the move of all light industry to the south, cities like Detroit found themselves at the center of a heavy industry world. The production of cars and aviation materials provided the economy with a solid foundation, until the economic recession of the 1970s. The Oil Crisis caused a major decline in the automobile industry, as fewer citizens could afford to pay for gas and own cars. During this time, heavy industry fell to the cheaper production competition of the third world, leaving the United States with little new industry to promote and develop. This left many downtown manufacturing and entertainment centers abandoned, as city dwellers fled the crime-filled streets of the city for suburbia.

    Suburbia quickly became the home for the American middle class. Not only did were nicely manicured lots filled with former urbanites and their families, but also soldiers returning home from war, wishing to start families. The development and chasing of the “American dream,” i.e. a house with a lawn for the children and a garage for the inexpensive Asian-made car, caused the creation of a bustling suburban environment, rather than the redevelopment of abandoned urbanity.

    Meanwhile, the quality of life in the city fell faster than the chips of paint falling from buildings. As buildings were being destroyed, families were forced into poorly-constructed public housing projects that fostered a culture of violence, rioting and economic instability, as citizens in the city searched for jobs that did not exist. This cycle of poverty and homelessness never allowed cities like Detroit to recover. Not only does Detroit lack the capital funds from citizen taxation to invest in the restoration of its buildings, but it also suffers from a lack of culture crucial to place making. Though photographers often travel to capture the Internet-praised “abandonment porn,” the decayed buildings of Detroit offer little to the quality of life that city-dwellers are looking for. There is not a cultural focus upon which to reestablish a sense of place.

    Though the city of Detroit has reached the end of its life, a new life can begin with proper, large-scale urban planning. Reestablishing a combination of retail, dining, commercial offices, entertainment venues and residences gives people more than a reason to visit; it gives them a reason to stay. Establishing a mass housing model similar to Europe’s system would provide residency for a wide variety of socio-economic classes, and bring their economic activity back to the city, thus generating revenue that can then be used for the production of new buildings, a new, energetic culture and a new life for the city as a whole.

  6. Cities live and die by its people. People are the blood that keeps the city’s heart pumping. Citizens make up the government, pay taxes, attend events, reside in a home, and many other actions that they choose to partake in within that city. Life is all about making decisions and dealing with the consequences that are produced. If people decide to stop coming, or living, in a city, the city will be hard pressed to stay afloat financially.
    After World War II, America experienced a dramatic change in its population. Thousands of soldiers were coming home and needed a place to live and work. The government began housing them through the GI Bill, and then later through Federal Housing Act, which ensured cheap mortgages for those who met the qualifications. The GI Bill also provided cheaper mortgages for veterans, as well as providing money for them to attend college. Consequently, a housing and construction boom ensued, leading to the rapid growth of Levittowns, or neighborhoods with “cookie cutter” housing. Construction companies found it to be cheaper and faster to build lots of single-family houses that were similar in structure. As suburbanization increased throughout those next twenty years or so, cars and public transportation became essential. These neighborhoods were being built outside of the outer loops of the cities, so more roads and infrastructure had to be built. The auto industry and construction industry were huge after World War II, until the late 1950’s, when light industry began to shift south where land was cheaper and had more opportunity for growth.
    As these industries moved south, their factories and buildings in the north became void and hollow. As industries left cities, as did the revenue that contributed to the cities. This hurt the municipalities and their ability to convert the empty buildings and factories into something useful. Thus, they remained empty and out of commission. Later, in the 1970’s a substantial recession hit the world, especially the US with the collapse of Bretton Woods. President Nixon terminated the Bretton Woods agreement, taking the US Dollar off of the Gold Standard; this was also known as the Nixon Shock. Nixon did this to try and alleviate the debt the US held from the Vietnam War, by printing extra Dollars. This caused the value of the Dollar to plummet, which hurt the economy. Additionally, this shock led to an oil crisis. Oil was valued by gold, not the US Dollar. Since the value of the Dollar decreased substantially, oil became very expensive for the US. This change greatly hurt heavy industry, especially in the Rust Belt, where most of the heavy industry remained. Plants and factories closed, people lost their jobs, and the cities themselves were strongly impacted due to the loss of income.
    The Flint, Michigan area is a great example of cities that have turned into ghost towns. Home to General Motors, Flint went through extreme hardships after the GM plants closed and put a majority of the city’s population out of work. Since then, Flint has become one of the most dangerous cities in the US due to their extremely high crime rate. At one point, the rat population in Flint outnumbered the human population. Larger cities could bounce back better from an economic decline due to their variety of industries. Smaller cities, such as Flint, may rely on only one industry, so the ramifications are multiplied when that industry is crippled.

    – Nathaniel Chadwick

  7. Perhaps no city in the United States more appropriately exemplifies the concept of urban decay more than Detroit, Michigan. Since its heyday at the height of the American auto industry, Detroit has declined to the point where its urban decay is so “spectacular” that tourists actually pay to travel to Detroit and visit various scenes of dramatic urban decay. Merely searching “Detroit” and “urban decay” on Google led me to much more so-called “ruin porn” than I had anticipated, even given the forewarning from class. In researching the demographic changes that tied into the decline of Detroit I came across a number of startling statistics that only served to emphasize some of the concepts we discussed in regard to suburban flight in particular and the decline of the Central Business District in general.
    According to the Wall Street Journal, since Detroit’s 1950s population peak at around 1.8 million individuals, the population has cratered to the present day population of around 700,000 people. Perhaps even more noteworthy than this remarkable decline is the associated demographic change. From 1950 to 2010 the “white” population decreased from 84% to 11%, while the black population increased from 16% to 83%. In fact, if one looks at the demographics more closely, separating out those of Hispanic descent, etc. it can be therefore estimated that only around 7 percent of the white population has remained. This pattern has clearly come about in large part due to the results of suburban flight-as the American dream became more and more of a reality for more and more city dwellers, and as Detroit fell into shambles alongside the decline of the American automobile industry, more and more people no doubt made it a priority to leave Detroit, moving to suburbs like Birmingham, Northville, or Royal Oak, or even leaving the area altogether. This demographic indicator of suburban flight is an extreme example of how often times minorities are the people left over after the process of suburban flight has run its course for a while, and these individuals are often marginalized and not especially profoundly useful as a tax base, which in the case of Detroit and its particular mismanagement of attempted revanchism, has been especially crippling.
    In 2010, the mayor of Detroit put forth a plan to bulldoze around a quarter of the city, intending to consolidate city services such as fire and police so that the associated costs would then be decreased. Another Michigan city, Flint, has been bulldozing homes since 2005 with significant success in happily relocating residents to more affluent areas, with the city bearing the brunt of the cost for purchasing and rehousing the residents from the more benighted areas. It remains to be seen whether such reclamation can be done on the scale of that of Detroit with its titanic levels and immense concentrations of urban blight. It seems obvious that already tried methods of solving for the problem of urban decay in Detroit have been in large part flawed and overwhelmed by the sheer scale and the thorough nature of the issues at hand. That being said, I feel like some of the more radical solutions, such as the aforementioned bulldozing, should be given sincere consideration moving forward, unless we are truly fated to abandon Detroit as the first truly failed American industrial center city.


  8. It is known that for a city to be prospers, it has to have a great Central Business District as talked about in class. You have to be able to have people come to your inner city, and want to be there from sun up to sun down. If you don’t have a good inner city then you will have what is known as a nine to five city. You will have business people coming into the inner city to perform their daily jobs and then as soon as they are done for the day, they will leave the city to of home for the night and night want to hang around and get food in the city. When you look at the pictures you will see a furniture outlet that has been boarded up because it was not getting enough business because there is no incentive for people to travel into the inner city. The less people that you have traveling to the central business district there is also no incentive for the people to keep up the infrastructure and this in turn cause shops and local restaurants to close up and this is a rolling effect that cause the city to get worse and worse.
    In the pictures posted here you can see what looks to be an abundant orphan house. As we talked about in class, if you have no money flow into a city, then there is no way that people will want to go to the city and the government will not want to give money and or aid to the city because there is no way that the city is going to make the money back from the loan they were to give out. So places that used to be used for entertainment and social meeting places are no longer going to be used for an purpose bedside eye sources. Also, you can see that the picture on the left bottom, even the inner city schools are starting to get abundant.
    With the abandonment of the inner schools, homes in the inner city limits start to get rundown and people start to leave. This is not the worst thing that could happen to the urban city. As we talked about in class, we can use examples such as Detroit to show how bad a city can get. If you started with a well growing city, with many business but you do not create a nice, stable business district for the people who are trying to live in and around the city then you are not going to be ably to use the reaming buildings. Like the example that was given in class, you can build an amazing convention center in the middle of the downtown area, but if you do not build/rebuild the surrounding area like the top left picture in the group, people will not have the chance to get out and spend money to help the local businesses. Also, this makes it harder to rebuild the urban area because there is no money being feed into the system.

    Bryan Webb

  9. The death of a city is an extremely interesting topic which holds unique qualities to it’s study. The urban decay of Detroit is one of the greatest example of modern decay from a once perfect American city.

    The accumulation of events such as poverty, unemployment from the auto industry, widespread crime, poor city finances and mediocre urban planning all lead to what it has become today. America was at it’s prime during the end of the second world war, we at the time held the best infrastructure by far for any country out there, as well as not being ravaged from the war. All of our industry was still in prime condition to keep on top of the world economy. At this time most European countries were trying to rebuild themselves from the devastation’s of the war. Thus ultimately giving them the upper hand later on in the world, as new technologies and smarter urban planning will really play a role in their futures. Take any German city for example. From having to be rebuilt after the war, it gave the greatest advantage at being able to become modern and efficient. Thus rendering places with old infrastructures (like Detroit) to fall below the marginal expectations and needs of a modern city in the 2000’s. This trend may be soon to follow for most of America’s once great cities. With their outdated infrastructures and planning, especially those of the industrial core. Pittsburg, Cleveland, etc. Another thing to consider is the geography of where people are living and moving. It now seems as if the millennial generation cares not of where they work, but more so as to where they live. This could potentially change the demographic of most cities as we know it. Having a radical shift of population to one specific area would deplete the population from cities that depend on their numbers to survive. The decay of cities also creates a weird subculture that flock to specific areas of decay. A sort of gentrification if you may. Cities such as Detroit relied specifically on one large industry to keep the city going. In their case it was the American automobile industry. Once things took a turn for the worse, it ruined the local economy as many families lost their jobs. This in turn hurt the local economy as many mom and pop business soon lost their main sources of business. The cycle thus continued and ruined the city to what we know of it today. And this isn’t to say that the city is ruined or tarnished, but there is a definite decline of population and ruins of old building that the city neglects to demolish or restore. Giant industrial ruins now lay in the middle of the city with hopeless youth to roam them.

    America was set up for success after the World War, however it wasn’t conducive to compete with the future cities of the world, as we had no real reason to destroy our old building and bring in the new. It should be something for the world to speculate and use as a historical example on how to prevent such tragedies.

  10. Detroit has been a warning for cities everywhere but most have sadly chosen to ignore it. The rapid rise and decline of Detroit has provided the United States with a rare opportunity to learn from our mistakes in a timely manner if we heed to Detroit’s warning. There are two areas that Detroit’s city officials made crucial mistakes: city development and their response to the exodus of the auto industry.

    Yes, the auto industry is the initial reason why the city grew in the first place; however, the mistake that cost the city its “life” was relying solely on the auto industry. They put all their eggs in the auto industry basket and watched, dumbfounded as the industry took the basket and ran! Detroit citizens couldn’t believe that the companies at the heart of the city economy left the city bleeding, but the companies didn’t owe it to the citizens to take care of them because “it’s not personal, it’s just good business.” This is why cities should not rely on one type of industry/business. Detroit could have tried to attract other businesses at the height of the auto industry, but they didn’t because why worry about money when you have plenty, right? So instead of taking preventative action and planning ahead, Detroit spent all of their efforts and used all of their resources to aid the auto industry, lifting them even higher on the city pedestal. The city even let their public transportation system fall apart in order to build and maintain numerous expressways to help encourage car sales.

    As far as Detroit’s response to the exodus of the auto industry, well, who can blame them for their efforts really when no one else knew what to do either? However, I still find it hard to believe that Detroit (as well as Flint) would turn to tourism as the answer to cure all of their economic struggles when the auto industries pulled out. Tourism is already a major gamble as an economic base for a city. First, as a city you’re relying on people outside of your own city to have an excess of money in their pockets to vacation. Second, your city has to compete with all of the other possible vacation spots, like any of the beaches in Florida or California, etc. So not only did Detroit, Michigan city officials attempt to compete with numerous well-established tourist hotspots, but they also chose to base the tourism on the very auto industries that left them out to dry. Flint even built a theme park dedicated to the auto industry. Needless to say, it closed after 6 months. When tourism flopped, Detroit tried subsidizing and eminent domain to make way for other auto companies to homestead, which did very little for what it was worth.

    Instead of thinking tourism would be the answer, Detroit should have focused on what the city had left. They shouldn’t have tried to fill the void the exodus the auto industry created but rather repaired what remained such as the drastic need for affordable housing due to unemployment, improvements on public transit, school upgrades, subsidies for small business creation, etc.

    People mostly joke or tell horror stories about Detroit but they don’t think it could happen where they live despite all possibilities. It could even happen in a place like Northwest Arkansas. Do we not have a couple billion-dollar corporations that are the reason for the booming population? What’s stopping them from uprooting for a profit sometime in the future? Would we learn from Detroit’s example and have a proper response?

    Brittany Brown

  11. In every city there is an area where citizens will tell their children, out of town family, and tourists to never go. These places are labeled and joked around as the “bad” parts of town. However, if you were to look into a history book of that city, that area would mostly likely have been a “good” or even “best” part of town at one point in time. Unfortunately, there are towns that don’t have the luxury of having a good side or bad side of town. The entire town is labeled “unlivable”. Take the city of Flint, Michigan for example, a town known for being the birthplace of General Motors and where the majority of the vehicles were built. The town was one of the most popular in the United States during the post World War II era. However, in the late 80s, General Motors closed down all the manufacturing plants and Flint lost its main source of income. Today, the population of Flint is a fraction of what it was and it is considered as one of the most dangerous cities to live in and also one of the most inhospitable due to lack of jobs.

    After the General Motors closed down the plants, the city of Flint scrambled to figure out ways to create a new source of income and keep people from leaving. Unfortunately, the people in charge of the city made a critical error. Instead of developing a strategy plan for enticing new businesses to set up shop in Flint so that the city could take care of its own citizens, tourism was the basket where all the eggs were put into. The city spent millions of dollars building a fancy hotel and indoor amusement park to attract patrons from across the country. Why did the city officials choose to do this? They wanted to be just like all the other cities. They wanted to be like Chicago, San Francisco, and Minneapolis. The problem was that those cities had jobs. Those cities had a strong foundation.

    We see the same things still happening today. Cities throwing money into the wind hoping something will happen and make their city what it once was. Being a Landscape Architecture major I hear the worlds downtown revitalization way to often. So often that it doesn’t mean anything to me anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I believe revitalization is a great thing for city cores and every city should be revitalized in some form or fashion. However, the process in which people are trying to accomplish revitalization is wrong. Creating a beautiful downtown square, a park, or an entertainment district isn’t going to work. It may work for about a year, but eventually someone has to take care of that new square or park. If your city doesn’t have enough money to take care of square or park, or the people of the town wont respect it, then it isn’t going to make the city better. Jobs make cities better. When people have a steady source of income, they can take care of themselves. Once they can take care of themselves, they can serve an important role in reestablishing a foundation for the city to build upon.

    Andrew Dingler

  12. This is a photo set of urban decay, or abandoned cities. The economy boom that had been occurring ended with collapse of Bretton – Woods and the oil crisis. The end of Bretton – Woods meant that the dollar was no longer on the gold standard, which it was from 1944 to 1971. In 1971 the United States was involved in the Vietnam War, which was a conflict that drained the economy, to counter the problem President Nixon took the dollar off the gold standard so the government could print more money which lead to inflation. This fed into the oil crisis because the cost of a barrel of oil was pegged to gold not the dollar, in one year the price rose from eight dollars a barrel to thirty – two dollars a barrel. These two events led into three main results. The first result concerned the cost of labor. Traditionally unionized labor received higher wages because they were the more skilled labor force, then unskilled labor was assigned to assembly lines which they hated, so then they were paid more to continue their work. Assembly lines made way for higher productivity, higher wages and high profits but the costs were high when compared to the global south. The second result being rapidly developing competition from the Global South itself in terms of items from toys to televisions. The third result involved the short – term gain (profit) from return, dividends or reinvestment that was not reinvested in new equipment, the old equipment that required lots of oil and fuel was fine, until the oil crisis. Heavy industry in the United States was impacted heavily by the oil crisis cars, ships,tanks, steel, iron, and some electronics were now part of an inflexible industry that led to massive deindustrialization. Japan and Germany were creating light cars with new equipment that was more efficient than the US industry. Some cities, such as Detroit were never able to recover from these events, leaving the parts of town associated with such industry abandoned. Additionally post World War II there was suburban flight from the cities by the middle class and elite. Those who could afford to leave the congested and polluted areas of town did, leaving those who were unable or were too poor to leave. That left the central business district with few purposes, such as government and corporate offices, very low income housing and public housing, ethnic neighborhoods made up of new immigrants or the elderly who immigrated previously, abandoned industry and warehouses that offered very few jobs, and very limited retail and private services options. These areas are often food deserts, meaning there is no available grocery stores without access to a vehicle. The consequences of such city structure include a fiscal squeeze, the tax cycle, the cycle of poverty, overstretched public services, legal and illegal noxious trades such as prostitution, drugs, chop shops, high security prisons and incinerators. All which combine to create a “nine to five” city, where the city is active during the work day with jobs and services and lunch restaurants, but then everyone leaves for the suburbs so the city shuts down at night.

  13. Before World War II cities were the heart of America. Industry and business flourished in the city center and as a result, many working-class Americans resided there. The development of the automobile allowed some Americans to move outside of the cities and commute to work, but cities did not see a dramatic residential decline until the 1950s. After World War II Americans found themselves significantly more financially secure and wanting more. People who experienced the Great Depression desired a safe, comfortable lifestyle. Because of this, the demographics of the United States began to shit. The population was no longer strictly divided between industrial urban dwellers and rural farmers. A white-collar, suburban middle-class emerged from the wealthier class of city-dwellers who could afford to commute to work. Suburban America became a safe haven of evenly-distributed, uniform homes, white picket fences, and enough land to enjoy without requiring much effort.

    The attraction of suburbs was two-fold, however. Because a certain economic status was guaranteed in the suburbs, people and families began to move there to avoid the stigma of the city. They also moved to distance themselves from minority groups. With the majority of city inhabitants making low wages, people lived there because they had to, not because they wanted to. Low tax revenue from cities meant that less money could be spent on police or other public services, which sent cities further into a downward spiral. These cities experienced an increase in crime, poverty, and homelessness. Factories relocated to outside the city limits, and as a result buildings became rundown, abandoned, and much of the local economy was gone.

    Local governments recognized these patterns and attempted to reconcile them, but were mostly unsuccessful. Instead of tackling the problem head-on, city officials took shortcuts like raising city taxes. In doing this, they simply made their constituents poorer and more disgruntled.

    In the 1980s and 90s cities began to experience another demographic shift. Local municipalities attempted to redevelop cities in efforts to save them from complete dereliction. Redeveloping cities built focal points, such as waterfronts, historic districts, and railway stations, which not only increased the attractiveness of the city itself, but also promoted tourism. A mixture of commercial, retail, entertainment, and residential areas were established to draw in the middle class. Common side-effects of redevelopment include the incidental or deliberate displacement of poor people, and gentrification.

    Many cities such as New York and Chicago have flourished after redevelopment. Detroit, however, is still struggling to revitalize its urban center. Detroit built the Renaissance Center in efforts to stimulate its economy. Tremendous amounts of money were spent on this building, but nothing was done to restore the surrounding areas. Detroit remains an impoverished, rundown city that has yet to be restored to its former glory.

    The aesthetic of a certain level of degradation in cities is preferred by many. Dilapidated buildings and abandoned warehouses highlight a city’s history and culture. Images of these ramshackle city ruins have become popular in recent years, but ultimately these buildings are impractical. In order for a city to flourish under redevelopment, buildings need to be restored while retaining those key elements of culture.

  14. The After Math of Urban Sprawl/White Flight; Pre-Gentrification
    The final push required to bring the already decaying post-industrial American city to its knees would rise and fall with throughout the early 20th century, with the causes and effects of the second world war; finally to manifest in the 1970s, following the Vietnam war. With the dramatic class changes that occurred during the industrial revolution and the social reconstruction from World War I already manifested in city form, the financial doom and decline caused by World War II would once again change the shape and life of the American city.
    The notion of urban sprawl is graphically displayed for the first time in 1980, in the Griffin Ford Model; showing the displacement of business control, market, and work, and the lowest of classes (such as the working class) and the highest elites. Even during the large financial doom in the 1940s this separation still rang true. The central business district was still unkempt, unsafe, and undesirable be it filled with lowliest factory workers, well paid ones, men, women, or children. The center of the city was only for the lowest working class, and the factories they worked in. The more the class incomes would change the more people would move out of the cities, and the higher the income the farther you moved. Where this had been a steady shifting for some time everything was begin to change again at the end of the war, and the introduction of a whole new class. In 1945 as the United States celebrated its victory in the war it also welcomed back an enormous amount of hero-ed veterans. These young men having fought a war for their country were now too good for the life of a factory worker and each given a plot of suburban land to build their new lives on. With thousands of troops retuning to the states housing options were not luxuries, but fit the new standards of U.S. living and in outstanding numbers.
    This new shift left cites completely empty and devastating poor. With the massive population increase came an extreme income loss. There were now too many worker, not enough products, and too much money to be spent. This happened after what seemed like a spectacular sequence of positive life style changes: advanced war technologies in everyday products, cheap cars, no global competition; American seemed to become a nation of the middle class, but this was only temporary. As more people moved from the city the less needed it was. With mass amounts if people living and commuting in new formed suburbs there was very little need for travel to the city. Office buildings were now the only part of the city to be occupied. Even the workers who kept the city running during business hours did not live in the inner city. Most forms of city entertainment were abandoned. Whole neighborhoods, including the upper middle divisions, were left to ruin. And anything that required human attention and interaction closed down every evening and weekend. The nine to five city was born, and its only occupants were those who couldn’t afford real housing.
    The American city was now a ghost of its former self and would remain that way until the late 1980s redevelopment, with revanchism and gentrification.

  15. The abandonment’s study somehow should, at one point or another, refer to Detroit. No other city in the United States suffered a dramatic decline in population level, neglect and urban decay over the last decades. It illustrates what can be seen in other cities in the United States and around the globe.
    The automobile industry had an important role in the growth of Detroit, firstly industrially, which drew hundreds of thousands of people to the city, and secondly as a consequence, its population. Therefore, anciently the city was small, compact and regional manufacturing center. The city continued growing exponentially until around 50‘s and specially because the advent of the second World War II. It required the large production of products to feed the war support.
    An incredible amount of abandoned and decadent architecture that the industry in America has dropped and left behind, is likely this places about which we could. A diligent city in the country, Detroit in a unique way reflects it. Social, racial and political tensions were not met by the industry. Hundreds of thousands of people fled the city, and today the population is less than half what it was in 1950. All areas of the city have been affected by this dramatic major economic and demography decline through last decades. For instance, doors of factories have been closed, increasing of the unemployment and as a result, many residents have abandoned the city. The suburbs and other cities have been the destiny of those from middle and upper classes. They left a huge underclass with no means to a city maintenance, and it quickly became twice the size it needed to be built. The suburbs at that time were created to afford the demand of people that would overcrowd the city, once its geographic limits were reached.
    Today, not only is almost half of the 138 kilometer area of vacant square, but the beautiful Detroit architecture is left without hope of use. There simply is not enough demand to support the amount and architectural character. The city is a case study for methods of dealing with shrinking cities. As famous American boom towns once existed, their counterparts today; cities like Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh all lose about 50% of its population in the last 50 years. The common thread that there is in the economy with industrial base, variable and social adaptation to industrial decline. Detroit has fared worse in terms of this variable, and the current image of the city well illustrate this scenery.

  16. Disaster porn, ruin porn, and abandonment porn all refer to a genre of landscape photography and such sites are used as backdrops for portraits and fashion shoots as well as visual stimulation for guided tours. Particularly famed sites, such as Brush Park in Detroit, draw professionals, amateurs, and gawking tourists. A peer of mine here introduced me to the term thanotourism, which refers to destinations chosen for their connection to death and suffering – such as Chernobyl or Pompeii. While thanotourism (also called necro-, grief, and dark tourism) and abandonment porn are not synonymous, they are linked by a significant fascination with death. In the circumstances of thanotourism the deaths are more specific, for example paying to sleep at the site of a brutal homicide, while abandoned buildings represent the death (or near-death) of an industry, a community, a city. There are a multitude of sources for anyone interested: ruinporn.tumblr.com focuses on Philadelphia, Will Ellis has a blog, “Abandoned NYC” and the Huffington Post has an impressive collection of articles and dozens of photographs from around the world. This fascination is not new. In an article from The Guardian in 2012 (by Brian Dillon, “Ruin Lust: Our Love Affair with Decaying Buildings”) Diderot is quoted, “The ideas ruins evoke in me are grand. Everything comes to nothing, everything perishes, everything passes, only the world remains, only time endures.” Dillon calls the fascination “evidence of a fretful modernity” and notes that the images and tours are typically “oddly detached from analyses of the political forces that brought the city to its present sorry pass.” This is one criticism of such capitalization. Another is the sensationalized poverty and the implication that these are in fact ruins, never to be brought back to life. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richey-piiparinen/ruin-porn-photography-detroit_b_1613871.html)

    Revitalization can and has occurred, though, for example, Detroit’s estimated 80,000 abandoned buildings are a formidable task. An article from the New York Times in 2012 (Mark Binelli, “How Detroit Became the World Capital of Staring at Abandoned Old Buildings”) quoted a German tourist on site at the Packard Plant in Detroit, “I came to see the end of the world.” Binelli brought attention to the difference in the perspectives of locals and visitors, and declared the abandoned structures as sources of daily psychological trauma for local residents, particularly children. Here is where the use of the term porn becomes relevant – as it immediately conjures up a voyeuristic cheapness. Perhaps moving forward abandonment porn will grow broad and deep enough as a subject to warrant a more academic title. There are two main avenues for this in my mind, one – the psychological significance of decaying structures in communities (and the psychology of outsiders looking in) and the other – the socioeconomic story that these sites tell about the past AND what we can learn for the future. Regarding the psychology I found an interesting read by Eric Jaffe, “6 Scientific Reasons You Can’t Stop Looking at Ruin Porn” (on http://www.fastcodesign.com). In the case of the 35 acre, 40+ building Packard Plant in Detroit, there is a long back-story including in recent years a government unable to take action due to private ownership, despite hundreds of thousands of dollars of unpaid taxes. The site was purchased in 2013 and the Peruvian developer has big plans to revitalize the area. (http://www.modeldmedia.com/inthenews/packardplansdetroit030315.aspx)

  17. There are a lot of places on Earth that such ruined and desolate city landscapes may be found. These landscapes are common in regions or cities that have been faced catastrophe, whether they be man-made or natural. Places such as Mogadishu in Somalia which has gone through years of civil war and disrepair or Chernobyl in Ukraine which was abandoned after a nuclear meltdown of the power plant. These are just a few examples of modern abandonment or disrepair, and then there are places where none of these things happen and these cities decayed from economic reasons and the passage of time such as Detroit.
    Detroit is one of the biggest abandonments of modern times. When people leave the city, they leave behind such a big number of houses and apartment building that the imagination cannot comprehend. The desertion of Detroit is one of the biggest non-violent processes of abandonment suffered by a city during the last half of the 20th and first half for the 21st centuries. With a surface area of about 223 square miles, Detroit has passed from a population of almost 2 million people in the last years of the 1950’s to losing almost half of that, to a working population of 800 thousand at the beginning years of the 2010’s according to the city’s census.
    In comparison, the forsaking of Detroit can be compared to Los Angeles losing one-third of its population, Chicago losing a third of its inhabitants or that cities like Austin, TX or Jacksonville, FL being completely abandoned in the end. In its peak during the last half of the 1950’s, Detroit was the third most important city in the United States, and one of the main industrial centers in our country with a vast and bustling metropolitan area; in which there had begun to erect skyscrapers, massive office buildings, hotels and other infrastructures, that served as the neurological centers of plentiful financial transactions that happened throughout the city. As can be seen in some of the pictures that are shown above.
    The principal industry of the city was the automobile, from which it got its name “Motor City” or “Motown”. In 1903, Henry Ford founded the “Ford Motor Company,” extending to the entire country his system of production later known as the Assembly Line which permitted the their production in masse. The method was copied by other car makers that had established in Detroit. Including the most famous, Dodge, Chrysler and General Motors. Henry Ford pioneered the creation of the first car for the common man, known as the “Model-T.” At the end of the 50’s the automobile factories were gigantic, with Detroit being the official capital of the automotive industry, with its industries having been the backbone of the war effort against the Axis Powers.
    Detroit was not only the backbone of the automobile industry but it was also a center of great cultural weight within the entertainment industry, some great music brands such as “Motown” which brought forward the avalanche of “Girly Groups” and of ‘Soul Music” in the 60”s such as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Supremes, The Jackson 5, and the Temptations among many others. This was Detroit in its Golden Age, but as shown in the pictures this was not to last. As said in the immortal words of Cassius Dio, having to do with decay of Rome, “our history now descends from a kingdom of gold to one of iron and rust.”

  18. Since the decline of industrial cities in the United States has occurred, due to the changes in the economy and changes of company locations, many cities that were driven by these industries have left people jobless and the cities as a whole did not adapt and change to keep up the employment of these populations nor did they create a reason for these populations to stay. The post industrial city landscape is now characterized by broken windows of an abandoned factory, empty schools, forsaken houses, and boarded up businesses. These cities also are filled with homelessness, unemployment, kids without an education, and communities living in poverty when these same communities were once safe neighborhoods. All of these things have been the result of the post industrial movement.
    Daniel Bell says that the post industrial society is characterized by “The replacement of blue-collar manual laborers with technical and professional workers—such as computer engineers, doctors, and bankers—as the direct production of goods is moved elsewhere” (Britannica.org). The movement of manual labor has caused a massive population decrease in these cities and has also led to a decrease in opportunity for those that have not left to go to the cities where these jobs have transitioned to. The cities that have failed to create service jobs as a replacement for industrial jobs have suffered the most. The industrial city’s primary function and economy was built around industrial jobs, the movement of these industries to global cities or even to smaller towns destroyed the identity of these cities and have made them decline to these abandoned businesses and factories. The decline of population and incomes have led to less spending and less growth and maintenance of the city, leading to a decline in living conditions, work conditions and even education and government. The reduction of help by the government has led to the decline of a healthy community and has increased in marginalizing the poor and the isolation of these groups. The efforts that have been put forth to revive these places have rarely worked because of poor planning due to location or to costs. The post industrial city landscape is filled with buildings like these images and has left these cities hopeless and abandoned.

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