Just a quick one to recommend a short film, Requiem for Detroit which is currently available on BBC iPlayer.
The film describes the automotive boom in Detroit and how the city was sent into a spiral of decline after the Great Depression hit in 1929. Recovery was accompanied by suburbanisation – Detroit was an archetypal example of the trend towards fossil fuel dependence described in The End of Suburbia.
The sheer number and scale of derelict buildings is the most staggering visual aspect of the film, which goes on to describe the social problems that have been spawned by the failure of a monocultural, car-centred economy to keep up with cheaper imports and other difficulties. The film ends on an ambiguous but possibly more upbeat note, describing the art projects and urban gardening that some commentators see as Detroit’s future.
There was little content about the major urban regeneration initiatives that are going on, and it would be interesting to read more about the other side of things. Are the big-money, corporate-led revitalisation projects and the glimpse of a new resilience through community self-reliance and urban agriculture irrevocably opposed, or can they be reconciled to provide a new way to construct and maintain cities?
Catch it while you can on iPlayer!
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