How The Car Drained Detroit

The decline of Detroit is often explained by the fall of the Fordist economy in the city after the global shift to Post-Fordism. In this theory the disappearance of mainly the car industry is directly connected to the vacancy problems that Detroit is facing nowadays. Indeed, during the last decades the fall of the automobile industry has taken away the economic motor of the city. This perception about the problems that Detroit currently faces is not the complete truth. This is explained in the figure above made by CNN’s Time. Detroit is shrinking for already 50 years now. Actually, the Detroit exodus began emerging right after the moment the car industry started to boom.

The real reason for Detroits immense population flows seems not to be the car industry, but the car itself. The rise of the suburb has contributed to the fall of the inner city. The figure shown above provides startling information about the relation between the construction of express ways and the condition of the inner city. In fact Detroit is drained by the mass introduction of the car, and has become dependent on the construction of them at the same time. Detroit’s population halved within 50 years, changing the city from a vibrant metropolis into an urban vacuum.

For years all over the world the economically strongest have chosen to leave the inner cities, and find themselves a house in the cultural desert of suburbia. However, over the last decade this situation seems to have changed slowly. The inner city has become a place for good living as well, preferable for an increasing amount of people. They are not suffering from the suffocating clouds of industrial poison any more. Cities have become talent magnets full of those who are unexplained in the social context of a village, and look for cultural and social tolerance. The modern city is occupied by those who look out for the city’s best quality… the city people. For Detroit it’ll take a long shot to have this most decisive pull element, but with the rise of the footloose existing of working nomads and other location independent professionals, there is hope for a sudden change.