» GIS Analyst
4 years experience
By Brian Doucet
October 23, 2013
One hundred years ago, Detroit was the Silicon Valley of its day.
Entrepreneurs flocked to the city because it was at the cutting edge of
industrial innovation. Henry Ford perfected the assembly line,
unleashing a whole new mode of production. Mass migration followed and
made Detroit one of the fastest growing cities in the world. In the
post-war years, Detroiters enjoyed some of America’s best public schools
and had the nation’s highest rates of home ownership. Their city was
the flagship of America’s industrial power. By 1960, the population
reached almost two million.
So what happened to the one-time fourth largest city in the US, now bankrupt and home to under 700,000 people? Many accounts blame the recent economic and foreclosure crises and political mismanagement. It is very easy (and popular) to blame local Detroit politicians for what has happened to their city. But these accounts miss two important factors which the City of Detroit is little able to influence: wider structural trends of deindustrialisation and globalisation and extreme regional fragmentation which encourages sprawl and ensures that the wealth which does exist in Greater Detroit remains in the suburbs, rather than in the city.
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