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Detroit: suburban hell

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11
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Hey, I'm new here. I have a fascination with urban planning and suburban sprawl and I stumbled across this website.

I was surprised at the almost total lack of photographs or discussion about Detroit, where, among other factors, horrific urban planning and suburbia led to the city's downfall. As a resident of Detroit all my life, I have quite an interest in why this happened. Once I get a scanner and/or a digital camera, I'll take some shots of the city's strange and beautiful areas, and some of the affluent suburbia that surrounds the city.

Until then, what are your thoughts? What does the rest of the country think of Detroit?
 

JCDJ

Member
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10
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1
What I know...

All I know about it is what I saw from 8 mile :) It reminded me a lot of Jersey City (there was actually a scene on a bus where when he was coming up with a song, the camera was looking out the window at the run-down looking buildings, and months before I saw the movie, I was listening to the song on the radio on the bus and happened to be looking out the window at the same kinda stuff, thought it was kinda weird and cool at the same time)
 

ChevyChaseDC

Cyburbian
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190
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7
pitchaudio said:
Hey, I'm new here. I have a fascination with urban planning and suburban sprawl and I stumbled across this website.

I was surprised at the almost total lack of photographs or discussion about Detroit, where, among other factors, horrific urban planning and suburbia led to the city's downfall. As a resident of Detroit all my life, I have quite an interest in why this happened. Once I get a scanner and/or a digital camera, I'll take some shots of the city's strange and beautiful areas, and some of the affluent suburbia that surrounds the city.

Until then, what are your thoughts? What does the rest of the country think of Detroit?
"The Ultimate Detroit Thread"

Click above to read the thread, which seems right up your alley. It's about time someone revived it!

Also, you should check out The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit, a website dedicated to showcasing the city's once great factories, downtown buildings, and neighborhoods.
 

plankton

Cyburbian
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750
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21
Being a Detroit native and State grad, I feel the utmost in loyalty to the great mitten state. I visited my old neighborhood (6 & Gratiot) for the first time in nine years last summer and was pretty devastated. My house of 15 years was in ruins and the area was pretty much as bad as it gets.

What's great about Detoit, though, and, frankly, this website, is everyone's recognition and appreciation of the stark beauty of Detroit's urban decay. There appears to be some good redevelopment occuring along Woodward and Jefferson - hopefully it will continue.

Are there really 5 million people in the Detroit Metro area? Wow.

The traffic in the Shelby Twp. area (Hall Road, et al) is the pits.

Needless to say, being a planner in Oregon is a real treat compared to the ongoings in the sprawl-burbia of Detroit.
 
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I have many friends!

Well, to reply to some of your comments/questions:

- Metro Detroit is, indeed, very much growing at a considerable rate. Oakland County (the county immediately north of Detroit) is rather expensive to live in these days. Most of the suburbs are very nice. The typical connotations are not prevalent here.

- There are absolutely no middle-upper/upper class people in the actual city of Detroit, except for a very small number of people living in lofts on Woodward and Fort St., or thereabouts.

- The suburbs surrounding Detroit in Oakland and Macomb county are, for the most part, very wealthy and very nice. The farther north you go, the more the suburbs begin to take on that "row house," "cookie cutter" look. The middle-upper and upper classes live in the townships of Bloomfield Hills and West Bloomfield, among others, and the city of Birmingham. All of these suburbs are a mere 20-30 miles away from some of the worst areas of Detroit. As for the people here, most are snobbish, but some are the typical Midwestern variety. Yes, it's very true that unless you work downtown, you usually only go for sporting events. I live in West Bloomfield (my profile says Detroit only because of its significance with the website), and I go downtown often. Sure, there isn't much to do down there, but you'll find something. I find the city itself beautiful in its desolation, and if you know where to go there's some cool spots. I was just on Belle Isle, an island in the middle of the Detroit river, for the fifth or sixth time this year. It's a really beautiful park, but it's extremely dangerous. People do crack and the like in the parking lots in the center of the island. As far as what other suburban Detroiters think of Detroit, most want to stay away from Wayne County as much as possible. A typical suburban Detroiter will usually say something like this if you mention you're going to a concert on Woodward and Grand Boulevard: "You're going downtown!?!....Be careful!!!!....Wouldn't wanna get robbed! Ho ho ho!"

- There are a few ethnic communities here in Detroit, but it's not as prevalent as New York or Chicago. An extremely large community of Arabs live in Dearborn, some 10 miles southwest of downtown. A large community of Poles live in Hamtramack.

- As far as traffic goes, the suburbs are by far the worst. We have a system of "mile roads" here in Detroit, measured north from downtown (for reference, the city of Detroit begins at 8 Mile Road). The intersection of 12 Mile, Orchard Lake, and I-696 is known to be the worst in the metro area. There's probably at least one accident a day there, and it takes some 20 minutes to get through the intersection. Turning left from 12 Mile onto Orchard to get onto 696 can take even longer.

Enough of my yappin.
 

AubieTurtle

Cyburbian
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Someday someone is going to make a lot of money off of all of those empty lots in Detroit...
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
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3,232
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25
The city owns most of them, because nobody turns up at the auctions to buy them.
 

DetroitPlanner

Cyburbian Emeritus
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6,241
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"There are absolutely no middle-upper/upper class people in the actual city of Detroit, except for a very small number of people living in lofts on Woodward and Fort St., or thereabouts."

pitchaudio, This is very much a mistake, yes the city is overwhemingly poor, but large neighborhoods still exist of middle and uppper class folks. Here are some examples off the top of my head:

Upper Class:
Palmer Woods
Rosedale Park
Indian Village
East Riverfront
Boston Edison

Middle Class:
Cass Corridor (rapidly joining the middle class)
Warrendale (blue collar, middle class)
Corktown
Seven Mile/Livernois
Grandmont
East English Village


As far as the blue collar suburbs comment someone previoulsy posted, yes there are many blue collar suburbs, primarily in Macomb and Wayne Counties.

Not all of Detroit's suburbs qualify for the moniker Suburban Hell. Yes there are places where traffic in the suburbs is horrendous but to equate that to all suburbs being hell just does not wash.
 

DetroitPlanner

Cyburbian Emeritus
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6,241
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27
" I was just on Belle Isle, an island in the middle of the Detroit river, for the fifth or sixth time this year. It's a really beautiful park, but it's extremely dangerous. People do crack and the like in the parking lots in the center of the island."

pitchaudio, your description of Belle Isle being dangerous and full of crack heads is also misleading. Why would the crack head hoof it over to the island to do drugs? (there are no neighborhoods on the island, and neighborhoods are where the crackheads are found.)
 
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DetroitPlanner said:
pitchaudio, your description of Belle Isle being dangerous and full of crack heads is also misleading. Why would the crack head hoof it over to the island to do drugs? (there are no neighborhoods on the island, and neighborhoods are where the crackheads are found.)
True. However, people find it safer to do drugs on the island than on a street where they could easily be seen. People "hoof it over to the island" because it's a sort of sanctuary, and it isn't heavily patrolled by police until nighttime. It is a bit of a "gang" area, too.

Yes, there are middle and upper class neighborhoods in Detroit. I was referring strictly to the downtown area, but I agree with DetroitPlanner, and I apologize for my misleading statement and mistake.
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
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25,789
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:-$ Sorry, never been there, not really high on list of places to visit.:-$
 
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