Week Three: Forgotten Places – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week Three: Forgotten Places

“Katrina without water”

This line from the book “How to Kill a City” is painful to read. I’ve seen how the devastation of Katrina continues to affect New Orleans, my home, to this day. There are striking similarities between neighborhoods here in Detroit and those that have never recovered from Katrina in terms of development and investment in the community and infrastructure. So, reading this line and understanding that context is astounding that such devastation could happen in a city without a natural disaster.

These areas in New Orleans still suffer today because they have been forgotten or pushed away by the city. This is the same with areas outside of the 7.2 miles of the gentrification core in Detroit.

Some of these places are really only surviving because of nonprofit and community investment. When organizations and community members stand up and say: We see you. We hear you. You are not expendable. That’s where a lot of these nice things that are truly from the community come from.

But downtown is a different story. Downtown reeks of private investment. Now, when I go to downtown it’s a little bit sour to walk around and see all the very nice buildings and “hip” places. One thing I noticed when I first got here was that the only real transportation besides the bus system such as the Q-line street-train, People Mover subway-system, and trollies are all in high class areas. Now that I have read this book, I understand why: this transportation is within that 7.2 mile core of Detroit gentrification. So, who is this transportation really for is a question the book asks and the answer is not the average Detroiter.

I hope to continue reading this book to learn more about why this is happening and how it can be stopped.

-Aminata Ndiaye

2 thoughts on “Week Three: Forgotten Places”

  1. I enjoyed reading your post and it is interesting to hear the similarities between our cities. I hope to actually visit New Orleans this Fall for my birthday in December. I was not aware of have much our cities are alike and I look forward to learning about New Orleans in How to Kill a City and during my visit. I have always seen New Orleans advertised as confidently bouncing back from the hurricane, but I unfortunately have not heard about the forgotten areas of New Orleans. However, it is the same way for Detroit when I see articles talking about the new shops and businesses being welcomed into Detroit, stating that we are recovering from the 2013 bankruptcy, when in actuality we can only say a small portion of the city is “recovering”.

    Also, since you mentioned the Q-Line, I remembered that they plan to extend the Q-line all the way to 8 Mile road but not past that. 8 Mile Road is known to Detroiters as a line that separates the true Detroit from the gentrified Detroit. So we can clearly see the city officials not even trying to hide the fact that they do not care about those who live below 8 Mile Road like me and hundreds of others.

  2. It’s interesting that you made a connection of class with public transportation because thinking of it even in Chicago where one of the best public transportation to exist there are similar issues as well. I had a couple of friends who lived out south and refused to ride the CTA because they were concerned with their safety. On the other hand, I also have a couple of friends from out south but stay in different neighborhoods that are willing to take the CTA. I wonder if the neighborhoods in Chicago wasn’t gentrified in different areas at the same time if we would have the same issue with public transportation in Detroit.

Comments are closed.

lsa logoum logo