I’m sure the mood was jubilant in Detroit yesterday as the Super Bowl went off without a hitch. I have to wonder how long it will last though, after reading a very interesting Slate article which examines the city and the sorry state it appears to be in:
Local architects have set up displays in seven abandoned buildings and more than 20 eye-level store windows near Ford Field so that passers-by won’t be greeted by gated or boarded-up shops. In addition, the city has spent money to turn some vacant buildings in the area into temporary memorabilia shops. They will most likely return to their previous state once visitors—and Super Bowl retailers—have left town following the game.
Sounds like a lot of patchwork right? That’s the general vibe the article gives – that Detroit is almost a city in ruins, and they have no idea how to redevelop it. The Super Bowl would have been a great chance, but it seems they missed the boat on that one.
But the main explanation for these missteps is Detroit’s perennial problem: Suburbanites don’t need the city. The resources that most cities offer—high-end restaurants, movie theaters, retail, museums, hotels—are located in the suburbs instead of the city core.
When people talk about the city of Edmonton, there is much of the same – too much development has occurred in the suburbs, the downtown core is dying, etc. Fortunately our city has seen a great revival of the downtown area in the last few years, so maybe Detroit can too one day.