I just spent a week exploring the depopulated areas of Detroit on foot and by bicycle including an excellent stay with some young homesteaders. At the end of the trip I had an exchange with a noted civil engineer and city planner who had stayed in the newly revitalized downtown attending a convention. We had very different interpretations of what he called the “Doughnut of Despair” in the penumbra outside the urban core.
Bulldoze entire blocks of historic urban fabric. Concentrate the poorest people into giant high rise towers managed by unresponsive and underfunded bureaucracies. Intentionally cut them off from jobs, good schools, and the wider culture. Then blame the residents for failing to thrive after everything that was done for them.
Bulldoze entire blocks of historic urban fabric and create an imitation of the suburbs complete with cul-de-sacs and gated communities. Give subprime mortgages and multiple auto loans to low income families. Then blame the residents for failing to thriving in spite of all the opportunities that were offered to them.
These homes and families are the survivors of decades of white flight, the collapse of the auto industry, benign neglect, the criminalization of poverty, and a dozen plans to reform the city and “rescue” the poor unfortunates left behind. All these photos were taken within walking distance of each other in the same general part of the city. The ruined husks, the high rise projects, and the plastic subdivisions are all cheek by jowl with little islands of normal life, charming old homes, and neatly tended gardens. These are the people the next wave of self appointed do-gooders are looking to “help.”