Detroit and Flint included in NYT feature on how highways decimated cities — and how that can be fixed


Aerial photos show how highways destroyed the Motor City. - NEW YORK TIMES, UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY, GOOGLE EARTH
  • New York Times, United States Geological Survey, Google Earth
  • Aerial photos show how highways destroyed the Motor City.

In American cities in the 20th Century, highway construction projects decimated Black neighborhoods in the name of "progress" and "slum removal." That was certainly the case in Detroit, where Interstate 375 replaced the Black Bottom neighborhood, once the center of the city's African American community.

Now, Detroit is moving forward with a plan to replace the stretch of the high-speed highway with lower-speed city roads, bike lanes, and pedestrian crossing. It's part of a national trend, encouraged by the Biden administration, to rethink cities and the racist legacy of highways.

Detroit's I-375 and Flint's I-475 are among the highways featured in a splashy New York Times feature on the subject. The story features interactive graphics with aerial photos showing how highways tore apart neighborhoods and increased racial divides, and dives into the merits of the new way of thinking, including how denser, more walkable cities can help address climate change.

But some worry that these projects will only gentrify neighborhoods. In Rochester, New York, an Obama-era project filled in a portion of the city's "Loop" highway, but ushered in the construction of higher-end apartments. Legislation proposed by Congressional Democrats to fund such projects over five years based on a $20 billion proposal put forth by President Joe Biden calls for funding community outreach and engagement to local groups, as well as measures to ensure the availability of affordable housing for local residents.

You can read the feature in The New York Times.

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