News & Views » Local News

Detroit's top 10 urban planning blunders (and 10 successes)


  • Courtesy Library of Congress, Walter Reuther Library, Wayne State University, David Turnley/Corbis

June 1, 2018 will mark 200 years since the death of the Plan of Detroit, Judge Augustus B. Woodward's street design that gave us Campus Martius and Grand Circus Park. The Michigan Territory began to auction off vacant land north of Adams Avenue in large parcels on that day in 1818, against Judge Woodward's impassioned pleas to continue the city plan northward instead. This proved to be just the first of many city planning mistakes that would make the city, in the words of urbanist James Howard Kunstler, "the place where everything that could go wrong with a city, did go wrong."

But credit should be given where it is due, because occasionally even Detroit gets it right, especially with its great public parks. Today we present 10 of Detroit's worst urban planning blunders, and 10 of its most successful projects, ranked in no particular order.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.