Origins of the Urban Crisis

Origins of the Urban Crisis - The Origins of the Urban...

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The Origins of the Urban Crisis By Thomas J. Sugrue Commentary by Rob Linn **I FILED AFTER THE DUE DATE BECAUSE I JOINED LATE** “Prairie grass and flocks of pheasants have reclaimed what was, only fifty years ago, the most densely populated section of the city. Factories that once provided tens of thousands of jobs now stand as hollow shells, windows broken, mute testimony to a lost industrial past.” (Sugrue, p. 3) This urban catastrophe that Sugrue described is the result of rampant racial tensions, substantial disinvestment and disastrous governmental policies. The urban crisis is the self-perpetuating difficulty associated with, and experienced by, large, manufacturing supported urban areas like Detroit. Detroit’s infrastructure was built for a population and tax base of two million, yet Detroit has less than half of that population and tax base today, and the result is a fiscal catastrophe because the city must maintain the same infrastructure with a fraction of the planned income. This persistent fiscal struggle is at the root of many of the city’s problems: low scoring schools, inadequate emergency services, decaying public infrastructure and vast tracts of vacant land. These problems, in addition to racial disputes, prevents the city from breaking its self- destructive spiral – as more citizens leave, more services are lost, so more citizens leave. To break from this cycle, the city must attract more residents and keep its current residents, yet, because of its current state, Detroit is caught in a chicken and egg trap: It must attract more residents by improving services and infrastructure, but it needs new residents to make these changes. This self- perpetuating destructive spiral is the urban crisis.
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Detroit’s “urban crisis emerged as the consequence of two of the most important, interrelated, and unresolved problems in American history; that capitalism generates economic inequality and that African Americans had
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This note was uploaded on 04/02/2008 for the course HIST 393 taught by Professor Kurashige during the Winter '07 term at University of Michigan.

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Origins of the Urban Crisis - The Origins of the Urban...

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