A clean slate for the city

The New York Times reports on a plan — and from what you’d gather from the article, a surprisingly non-controversial plan — to effectively wipe out entire blocks and neighborhoods in chronically depressed Flint, Mich.

The population would be condensed into a few viable areas. So would stores and services. A city built to manufacture cars would be returned in large measure to the forest primeval.

Michigan’s laws afford local governments a lot of leeway when it comes to dealing with tax-delinquent properties.

The numbers, here, tell a powerful tale of boom and bust in the last half century.

Nothing will happen immediately, but Flint has begun updating its master plan, a complicated task last done in 1965. Then it was a prosperous city of 200,000 looking to grow to 350,000. It now has 110,000 people, about a third of whom live in poverty.

The story ends with the reporter meeting a woman, her pristine house about the only thing left on the block, contemplating whether she would abandon her home if the city offered her a spot in a more stable neighborhood.

Would you?

Update: Bob from the comments recommends this Harper’s article: “Detroit Arcadia – Exploring the post-American landscape” (pdf).