Detroit and the Problem of Order, 1830-1880: A Geography of Crime, Riot, and Policing

Detroit and the Problem of Order, 1830-1880: A Geography of Crime, Riot, and Policing

Detroit and the Problem of Order, 1830-1880: A Geography of Crime, Riot, and Policing

Detroit and the Problem of Order, 1830-1880: A Geography of Crime, Riot, and Policing

Excerpt

The nineteenth century transformed the American city. In 1830 it was a relatively compact place. People could walk without too much difficulty from one end to the other, and infact almost all of them went about their daily tasks entirely on foot. The sense of a shared "community" may not have existed, but at least a comprehensibility, even an intimacy, prevailed. By 1880, however, the old walking city had given way to urban sprawl. Streets seemed to stretch to the horizon, and the city engulfed what had not long before been open field and empty space. To get around, many people now used the horse-drawn trolleys that glided along the principal avenues. Some urbanites were no longer sure what the other side of town looked like.

No less sweeping an alteration took place in the way urban space was organized. We know now that as early as the 1760s American cities began to develop recognizable sub-areas based on the occupations of the residents or on the nature of the work done there. Still, the urban environment in the early nineteenth century was characterized by only minimal specialized land use. Dwellings, shops, and stores of all kinds mixed together in many parts of the city. Some urbanites had to endure the odor of putrefying animal wastes wafting through their windows from slaughterhouses next door. By the late nineteenth century, on the other hand, the city's spatial arrangements showed more differentiation. The central business district, secondary business strips along the streetcar lines, factory and warehouse districts, fashionable residential streets, working-class neighborhoods, poverty-rid-

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