America's Shrinking Cities

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Detroit, America’s great comeback city. On May 5th 2013 that slogan was chosen to be the new slogan representing Detroit in a nationally-focused advertising campaign that started last July. Why is Detroit making a comeback and where from? The era of mass production emerged in Detroit in the early twentieth century when Henry Ford’s Dearborn plant opened in 1913. Much of the subsequent development was tied up with the automobile industry. The city’s social geographies were reflective of the strongly racialised organization of labour within the industry. The racial segregation of the city was compounded by the suburbanisation of the city that took many of the city’s wealthier white residents to new settlements beyond the city limits. This left predominantly black residents to occupy the progressively degrading inner city suburbs. The combination of a narrow economic base rooted heavily in automobile manufacture and stark racial division between the inner city and the suburbs has underpinned the current crisis facing the city. However, the abandonment of such large areas of its inner city has opened up opportunities for artists and entrepreneurial urban agriculture projects to make productive use of these spaces (Barrett and Hall, 2012). If one would look into the history of Detroit, it would be inevitable to ignore Detroit as an icon for the modern world. Yet, Detroit has now become a symbol of the curse of the modern world’s metropoles. The inner city of Detroit is shrinking, while the suburbs keep growing. City shrinkage, also known as urban shrinkage, has become a huge problem all over the world. Especially in the United States of America the consequences of city shrinkage are becoming more and more visible. Not only are the shri... ... middle of paper ... ...enges of Globalization, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Mitchell, C.J.A. (2004). Making Sense of Counterurbanisation, Journal of Rural Studies. Elsevier. Pallagst, K., Aber, J., Audirac, I., Cunningham-Sabot, E., Fol, S., Martinez-Fernandez, … Wiechmann, T. (2009). The Future of Shrinking Cities: Problems, Patterns and Strategies of Urban Transformation in a Global Context. Center for Global Metropolitan Studies. Pallagst, K,. Martinez-Fernandez, C. & Wiechmann T. (2013). Shrinking Cities: International Perspectives and Policy Implications. New York: Routledge. Power A., Plöger, J. & Winkler A. (2010). Phoenix Cities: the Fall and Rise of Great Industrial Cities. Bristol: The Policy Press. Schlappa, H. & Neill, W.J. V. (2013). From Crisis to Choice: Re-imagining the Future in Shrinking Cities. Saint-Denis: URBACT.

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