Driving Detroit: The Quest for Respect in Motown

Driving Detroit: The Quest for Respect in Motown

Driving Detroit: The Quest for Respect in Motown

Driving Detroit: The Quest for Respect in Motown

Synopsis

Driving Detroit The Quest for Respect in the Motor City George Galster "An insightful history of Detroit from its accidental birth to its tortured present."--"Planning" "An immensely readable and personal book. Underlying Galster's] fine analysis of how the city went from arsenal of democracy and engine of America's manufacturing might to its current state of terrible decay is a deep knowledge of its streets, its music, its history, and its people."--"Urban Affairs" ""Driving Detroit" is replete with interesting insights on the social history of one of America's most troubled cities. George Galster has done a remarkable job of revealing how powerful elements in the Detroit metropolitan area created over time intense race and class polarization and a pronounced city-suburban dichotomy. There are lessons to be learned from this compelling study of a dysfunctional metropolitan region. Indeed, Galster's illuminating analysis is a must-read."--William Julius Wilson, Harvard University "George Galster cares deeply about Detroit--as should we all. In this clever and highly readable book, he draws upon history, social science, music, poetry and art to build a compelling case that bitter, unresolved conflicts have trapped the region in a zero-sum game, undermining the well-being of its people and communities--past, present, and future. Although Detroit is unique in many respects, the conflicts that bedevil it are not. There's a lot to learn here for anyone who cares about 21st-century urban America."--Margery Austin Turner, The Urban Institute "Like a good documentary, "Driving Detroit" expertly guides us through a fascinating yet grim and sad urban reality while exposing the deeper historical impact of economic restructuring, enduring racism, and selfish politics. And yet the insights connected to this extreme case are not confined only to Detroit. This book should be compulsory reading for urbanists in the U.S. and beyond who are searching for adequate responses to the challenges of their own cities."--Sako Musterd, University of Amsterdam For most of the twentieth century, Detroit was a symbol of American industrial might, a place of entrepreneurial and technical ingenuity where the latest consumer inventions were made available to everyone through the genius of mass production. Today, Detroit is better known for its dwindling population, moribund automobile industry, and alarmingly high murder rate. In "Driving Detroit," author George Galster, a fifth-generation Detroiter and internationally known urbanist, sets out to understand how the city has come to represent both the best and worst of what cities can be, all within the span of a half century. Galster invites the reader to travel with him along the streets and into the soul of this place to grasp fully what drives the Motor City. George Galster is Clarence Hilberry Professor of Urban Affairs in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at Wayne State University in Detroit. Metropolitan Portraits 2012 320 pages 6 x 9 26 illus. ISBN 978-0-8122-4429-8 Cloth $45.00s 29.50 ISBN 978-0-8122-2295-1 Paper $22.50s 15.00 ISBN 978-0-8122-0646-3 Ebook $22.50s 15.00 World Rights Social Science, General, Geography Short copy: "Driving Detroit" paints a portrait of metropolitan Detroit through an imaginative application of social science, song lyrics, poems, and oral history to explain why the city has fallen from industrial powerhouse into urban dysfunction.

Excerpt

A great portrait executed in paint has many layers; it builds a depth of character corresponding to the pigment. The best portraits do not merely mimic the surface of their subjects; they also reveal their subjects’ characters. The same principles apply to executing in words a portrait of a place, which is the goal of the Metropolitan Portraits book series. In the case of Greater Detroit, many books have portrayed its various surfaces. None, however, have asked, “Why Detroit? What makes it tick?”

Portraits are inherently subjective. They can be flattering, like those of John Singer Sargent, or grotesque, like those of Francis Bacon. My portrait of Detroit combines perspectives that would make both Sargent and Bacon happy, because this place is both beauty and beast. But this portrait is also partly a self-portrait, wherein Detroiters paint their own stories through their lives’ brushstrokes. This rich texture of overlaid personal pigments is provided through songs, poems, and oral histories. In the oral history I eschew surnames; the attentive reader will realize identities by the time they have finished the book. At its core, however, the character of place I try to reveal in this portrait will emerge from multiple layers of principles gleaned from economics, sociology, political science, geography, history, and psychology. My goal is to paint a portrait that not only helps us see but, more importantly, understand why Detroit’s social, cultural, institutional, commercial, and built landscape is the way it is.

This goal has shaped my choice of title and subtitle. The title Driving Detroit certainly can be interpreted as what Detroit and its primary twentiethcentury industry were all about: putting America on wheels (and then updating them every few years, the auto companies hoped). Equally, the title can be interpreted as the act of navigating one’s automobile around the environs of Detroit, as indeed I vicariously do with the reader in Chapter 1. But, most importantly, I hope the title is primarily interpreted as a revelation of causal . . .

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