Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Myth of 'Superstar Cities'

By the standards of this article, the Detroit area could be thriving. After all,
La Guardia or Truman understood that great cities become so, in large part, due to the strivings of the upwardly mobile middle class and families, not the elites of any stripe. It may well be true, as Mr. Gyourko argues, that as the nation grows to 400 million or more there could be a niche for 10 to 20 such "productive resorts" serving as "enclaves of the wealthy." But the urban future — today as in past generations — will belong mostly to places that continue to draw and nurture the middle class, which has driven the rise of most successful capitalist cities.
This entirely describes how Detroit has always mythologized itself. There is explosive growth in your Charlottes or Phoenixes, but Detroit was built on the idea that middle class people could create a nice life for themselves. That the city is conspicuous in its absence from this article on places that have succeeded by offering brainpower and affordable housing suggests how far we have taken our eye off the ball in recent decades. Can we get it back? The right cocktail suggests an educated populace, low cost of living, young-ish workforce, and business-friendly environment. Does that describe Michigan?

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