We are Giulia and Selene two students studying at the Polytechnic of Turin, master “Costruzione e Città”. We are just starting a masters thesis on “shrinking cities” in America; with the help of our supervisors we would like to analyse the global shrinkage problem and in particular we want study the case of Detroit. We are planning to travel to this city next spring and we created this blog to document our work and our future trip. Any kind of suggestions that can help us with our work are appreciated.
Below a short description of our university research.
The topic of our master thesis at Polytechnic of Turin is the study of the city of Detroit; our proposal is an integrated analysis combining economic evaluation, urban studies and GIS technologies. Our research was inspired by an innovative experimental study done in 2014 by a Portuguese research group (Research Center for Spatial and Organizational Dynamics – CIEO – Universitad de Algarve): in particular, Thomas Panagopoulos, Maria Helena Guimarães and Ana Paula Barreira.
In this survey, the information was obtained using 701 questionnaires distributed in four different shrinkage cities in Portugal, they analyzed:
- Influences of push and pull factors on shrinkage phenomenon in different urban areas;
- Citizen’s policy preferences;
- Action sorting for the implementation of urban policies.
Subsequently, they observed how the specificity of cities and respondents has great influence on urban shrinkage first and then on renewal strategies. The intent of the study was to understand the will of the population to propone options to get out of shrinkage crisis.
Starting from a in depth analysis of this method, our research would like to use the same methodology on the city of Detroit, in particular the part in which they analyzed the influences of pull and push factors. Specifically, we would like to dispense a structured questionnaire in three or four renewed neighborhoods in order to understand both socio-demographic/economic factors and what makes people stay in or leave a neighborhood. Once this information has been acquired, we would like to make a spatial and numerical comparison between these urban areas and other Detroit neighborhoods (not yet restored) to understand differences and analogies. Finally, the last part of our study will try to define some general or specific guidelines and strategies for urban planning to renew these part of the city.
There are many reasons that led us to choose this analysis. First, we studied the case study of Detroit in our last urban planning course and we were fascinated by this reality so different from the one known to us (although Turin was also a shrinking city and has a recent history similar to that of Detroit). Moreover, according to what we learned in the literature, there are not any examples of studies that apply the push and pull factors analysis in a reality already renewed or undergoing transformation. Finally, our study would like to distinguish by other analysis through the use of a multidisciplinary approach that need a lot of data (spatial conformation, census data, socio-economic data, income and ethnic distribution within city borders…) to compare. For this purpose, a city like Detroit seems to be the best choice; there are in fact a lot of data available, also (unfortunately) because of its enormous decay in the last fifty years that attracted a lot of interesting researches from all around the world.