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The Case for Bulldozing American Cities

Do some American cities need to get smaller? Inhabitat covers an idea to return large parts of our fastest-shrinking cities to nature. "The...


Do some American cities need to get smaller? Inhabitat covers an idea to return large parts of our fastest-shrinking cities to nature."The Obama administration is reportedly considering plans to raze sections of 50 economically depressed US cities, condensing these towns' shrinking populations and city services to smaller areas. The plan, dubbed ‘shrink to survive,' may seem kooky, but it could be big news for environmentalists: In many cases, bulldozed districts would be returned to nature via forests or meadows.The plan is modeled after a proposal currently underway in Flint, Michigan, the original home of General Motors. The town now suffers from a higher-than-average unemployment rate (about 20 percent) and a rapidly dwindling population, and local politicians claim the city must reduce its size by as much as 40 percent to avoid bankruptcy. Flint's shrinkage plan is spearheaded by Genesee County treasurer Dan Kildee, who was reportedly approached by the Obama administration to look into other areas of the country that would also benefit from a size reduction."Other cities on the list include Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Memphis. They were drawn from a study by the Brookings Institute that identified cities that were too big for their shrinking economies.The idea of bulldozing parts of American cities could weird some people out. It might feel like a way of actually aiding in America's decline.But it seems there's a real economic need to downsize in places such as Flint where city services are stretched thin. And that's not the only advantage. Denser developments will put people closer to stores and schools, and provide new opportunities for civic interaction. And I imagine it would be good for morale to feel like your town had a fresh start, not a terminal illness.Photo from Flint by Flickr user NESJumpman (cc).
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