|Tag(s):||1950s, Detroit Industry, Industry, Heavy Industry, Detroit|
|Course:||“Environmental History in Detroit,” University of Michigan|
The negative perception of industry is a fairly recent concept and for many years in places like Detroit industry was a marker of innovation, economic mobility, and increased employment. A 1956 study conducted by the Detroit City Plans Commission presents a crucial comprehensive collection of facts and statistics about the current state of industry and its projected growth. In the section entitled “Community and Corridor Data,” city planners offer their definition of a community and clarify the distinctions between a “community corridor” and an “industrial corridor.” In their definitions they contend with the City’s Master Plan which states that no heavy industry can be in close proximity to community corridors. While the report is objective in most of its findings it presents the disadvantages to the City Master Plan in a much more enumerated and in-depth manner than the advantages of separating industry from residential. The study concludes in this area that it will be difficult for industry to exist outside of industry corridors. This alludes to another theme within the report, which is the lack of space for real heavy industry in the city. According to many of the graphs and conclusions in the report current industry provided much of the economic stability the city has and it is logical that an increase would be beneficial for everyone.
The report speaks to a long-term problem in Detroit, highlighted by urban researcher June Manning Thomas, namely the city’s tendency to “assemble land for industrial sites.” Urban development in the twentieth century reflected the city's interest in increasing industry within community spaces as a means of increasing economic prosperity. The result is a city eager to put industry next to homes, as the city could “buy existing houses and land, prepare sites, and resell them cheaply to industrial firms.” This postwar mentality of increasing industry and jobs had major repercussions for city residents who were forced to live side-by-side with heavily polluting industries, which the city has never fully addressed.