Detroit presents a very interesting figure ground relationship which has changed dramatically over time as it waxes and wanes with plots beaming larger and larger as the Renaissance Center, COBO Hall and the 3 sport arenas are built. What’s interesting about Detroit’s sprawl is that it is so multifaceted. The city is much larger than the needs of its population and much of the working population lives outside the city, after talking to a well informed citizen on a trip to try and procure some real estate she said the downtowns working population is more than a dozen times large than its residency capacity. Moreover the city is built around racism and perception. The suburbs to the north and west exist entirely outside of the realities of Detroit. Of the big 3 car manufactures only one, General Motors, has its headquarters in the city itself. Kids grow up in the suburbs fearful of crime which is prevalent outside of the city core but no more or less frequent than any other major city’s downtown. The city itself is practically empty as anyone who’s walked the down town on a weekend where there’s no sporting event can attest to.
Many think that to solve the economic problems of the city the solution is to bring the city back to its core and shrink it. I would say now there’s never been a better time to explore the future of cities. Its like having a baseball team with a star pitcher (the ren-cen) and a home run slugger (3 sporting venues) but the city needs everyday position players to make it great again.