Week 9 – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 9

Driving through Detroit is frustrating and confusing due to the presence of what feels like 10 different highways interlacing through the city that need to be taken to go anywhere. They’re difficult to navigate and I’ve always hated driving here because of them. I was thoroughly confused why they were designed the way they were and thought that the planners surely didn’t think through their organization. While reading The Origins of the Urban Crisis I was surprised to find out that the planners had actually thought very hard about where to place the highways. They were encouraged to run the highways through black neighborhoods in order to engage in “slum razing” and avoid disrupting white citizens. Black residents were unable to receive any money for their property, had their businesses destroyed, and were forced to relocated to crowded areas. This would obviously make it difficult to ever make it out of poverty, subtly pushing blacks as far down the totem pole as possible. Who knew I could hate the highways more than I already did.

A quote from this section that stood out to me was the mayor’s statement that “sure there have been inconveniences in building our expressways… That’s the price of progress”. This sounds like something that could be heard today in the city about some of the new development coming in. Those who are making statements like these need to be sure to consider history and the “price of progress” that has been paid before before moving forward with their plans.

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