Detroit: Race and Uneven Development

Joe T. Darden
Richard Child Hill
June Thomas
Richard Thomas
Joe T. Darden series edited by
Copyright Date: 1987
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Hub of the American auto industry and site of the celebrated Riverfront Renaissance, Detroit is also a city of extraordinary poverty, unemployment, and racial segregation. This duality in one of the mightiest industrial metropolises of twentieth-century North America is the focus of this study. Viewing the Motor City in light of sociology, geography, history, and planning, the authors examine the genesis of modern Detroit. They argue that the current situation of metropolitan Detroit-economic decentralization, chronic racial and class segregation, regional political fragmentation-is a logical result of trends that have gradually escalated throughout the post-World War II era. Examining its recent redevelopment policies and the ensuing political conflicts, Darden, Hill, Thomas, and Thomas, discuss where Detroit has been and where it is going.

    In the seriesComparative American Cities, edited by Joe T. Darden.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0500-5
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Maps, Figures, and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface: Angles of Vision
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Series Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. 1 Detroit: An Overview
    (pp. 3-10)

    This book explores some of the major factors in the post-World War II evolution of one of the mightiest industrial metropolises of twentieth-century North America. It argues that the current state of the city of Detroit and its region—spatial inequality of industry and commerce, chronic racial and class segregation, regional political fragmentation—is a logical result of trends that have gradually escalated throughout the post-World War II era. It explains major trends by focusing specifically upon factors that have led to economic decentralization and racial segregation. In doing so, the book does not offer a global description of the...

  7. 2 Uneven Development in Metropolitan Detroit
    (pp. 11-66)

    Our purpose in this chapter is to trace uneven development—the spatial trajectory of investment and disinvestment, economic growth and decline—in metropolitan Detroit since the Second World War. We begin with Detroit in the late 1940s, when the spatial path taken by an expanding auto industry, abetted by federal transportation and housing policies, yielded massive suburbanization. Auto decentralization, then the reorganization of commercial capital from downtown to regional shopping centers gave birth to two Detroits. One, the Detroit metropolitan area as a whole, had a thriving economy. The other, the central city, became home for hundreds of thousands of...

  8. 3 Patterns of Race and Class Disparity
    (pp. 67-108)

    The preceding chapter focused on uneven economic development and the changing patterns of economic growth and decline over time and through space in metropolitan Detroit. The trajectory of economic development was traced through three periods between 1913 and the present, emphasizing the periods covering the Era of Suburbanization (1951–1978) and the Era of Regional Competition (1979 to the present). Throughout these periods uneven development has remained in the hands of powerful people and corporations and has tended to serve the privileged few. Most of the development has been occurring in the Northwest Passage of Oakland County. On the other...

  9. 4 Interracial Conflict and Cooperation: Housing as a Case Study
    (pp. 109-150)

    As we have seen in previous discussions, the spatial logic of auto production over three decades contributed to patterns of disinvestment and deindustrialization in the central city. This historical and structural transformation of the regional economy, in turn, reinforced patterns of racial and class segregation, particularly in housing, education, and employment. The white flight to the suburbs in the 1950s and 1960s in some ways conformed to the spatial logic of auto production; however, the major stimulus behind the flight was the pressure of expanding black neighborhoods. Whites were not alone in the mad dash to the suburbs. When and...

  10. 5 City Redevelopment Policies
    (pp. 151-200)

    We move now from housing as a case study of racial conflict and cooperation to city redevelopment policies. As in Chapter 2, we will examine broad aspects of uneven social and economic development, including the role of the political and economic elite in the decision-making process. Race and class factors are still quite salient in this discussion but take their place alongside new aspects of the analysis, such as how and why certain redevelopment decisions were made and what effects they had upon particular segments of the population.

    Three aspects of the metropolis have controlled the nature and potential success...

  11. 6 Politics and Policy in Metropolitan Detroit
    (pp. 201-250)

    All of the issues discussed thus far—the economy of the region, patterns of race and class, race relations, redevelopment strategies—relate in some sense to politics. Although the political environment has not always determined the course of events in the Detroit metropolis, it has certainly helped shape them. The political fragmentation of the region is the single variable that best explains why certain areas of the region suffer the most from the effects of the massive extremes in regional economic development.

    If, as had happened in metropolitan regions in the southern United States, the city of Detroit had been...

  12. 7 What Future for Detroit?
    (pp. 251-266)

    What does the future hold for the Motor City? Forecasting much beyond the present is a risky business. But based upon our findings from this study, we can venture a few concluding prognostications.

    To a significant degree, the economic future of the Detroit region is still tied to the future of the auto industry. If Michigan’s localities are to thrive in the face of stiff international economic competition, they must carve out a competitive economic advantage. A competitive advantage comes from well-integrated clusters of firms, suppliers, skilled laborers, and supporting government institutions. Michigan’s economic development specialists seem to agree that...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 267-296)
  14. Index
    (pp. 297-317)