Redesigning Decline: A Case Study and Re-design of Detroit's Poletown East




Perez, Diego

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The global population has been heading towards a more urbanized world for decades now. 56.2% of the total world population now lives in an urban area/city as of 2020. (Buchholz, 2020) Over half of the world’s population would rather live in a city than in rural areas. Not to mention the fact that the world population is catching up to pass 8 billion people. In general, the world and cities are growing but despite this there are still cities in the world that are seeing the opposite: decline. Over the course of history cities have risen and fallen, many were lost due to time, poor management, and outside forces. However, I argue that no failed/forgotten cities are as interesting as the modern-day ones. Around the globe sits many declining cities that have either been abandoned or are on the trajectory to become one. Some examples of shrinking cities are Budapest, Hungary; Busan, South Korea; Odessa Ukraine; and St. Louis, U.S.A. (Berlinger, 2012) One of the greatest examples of a declining city lies in the heart of the American rust belt: Detroit, MI. This thesis is to be a case study of decline and ways to combat it using the city of Detroit as an example. How the city got to where it is today, where the city is heading, and the economic and social factors needed to keep the city of Detroit afloat are some of the things that I will be discussing in this paper. I will also be creating a neighborhood analysis of the neighborhoods Midtown and Poletown East, as well as putting together a short design plan on what I believe should be planned for the neighborhood of Poletown East. This neighborhood design plan is not meant to be the all-in-one cure for poverty or blight, but it is intended to be seen as one of the many options for development that Detroit has as we will discuss further in the thesis.



urban decline, urban planning, Detroit, gentrification, community development, Honors College


Perez, D. (2022). Redesigning decline: A case study and re-design of Detroit's Poletown East (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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