US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive – Telegraph


There’s been some talk over the past week of whether or not it makes sense to proactively shrink the size of American cities that are no longer economically sustainable.

There’s an interesting article on the Telegraph’s site that discusses the possibility of flattening a large part of Flint Michigan as a test case.

It features Dan Kildee who’s been asked to come up with a plan for Flint that might be extended to at least another 50 cities in the US that are in the same situation.

Interesting point made in the article:

“But Mr Kildee, who has lived [in Flint] nearly all his life, said he had first to overcome a deeply ingrained American cultural mindset that ‘big is good’ and that cities should sprawl – Flint covers 34 square miles.

He said: ‘The obsession with growth is sadly a very American thing. Across the US, there’s an assumption that all development is good, that if communities are growing they are successful. If they’re shrinking, they’re failing.’

But some Flint dustcarts are collecting just one rubbish bag a week, roads are decaying, police are very understaffed and there were simply too few people to pay for services, he said.

If the city didn’t downsize it will eventually go bankrupt, he added.”

Read the full article here.

The issue isn’t growth anymore, it’s sustainability. Cities need to become sustainable in terms of economics, energy, supply chains, etc.

I write this only a few minutes away from large cities in Arizona that were created out of the desert for the sole reason that land was cheap there. There’s no real economic reason they should exist.

And they’re slowly falling down now too.

This is going to be a very difficult time for the outer-ring exurbs.

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. Usually it is poor people and new immigrants who get squeezed in these plans.

  2. Simply to “Bulldoze cities” confesses itself a hasty, ill-conceived scheme. It will create wastelands. You need a purpose for your plan and then must cleverly reuse existing structures for new fruitful purposes. And most of all, never, never let any politician or activist get involved.

  3. Carol Horton says

    This is a fascinating concept. Imagine how being surrounded by nature might influence how a city functions and defines itself.

  4. Catherine Penn Williams says

    Why does it have to become a wasteland? Why not turn the bulldozed areas back into natural environments that people can enjoy? Imagine parks or, even better, forests near the places where people actually live. Yes, even a “forest” of sahuaros! My family moved to the shiny suburbs back in 1964 and as a child I ached for the large inner city parks, creeks and natural areas we left behind in the inner city.

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