Tag Archives: urban decay

Downsize me

Before summer started and the job that accounts for my posting hiatus began, I finished my project for Advanced GIS. It’s called “Downsizing Flint: Spatial alternatives for a shrinking city.” Basically, my goal was to analyze the density of empty properties in the city of Flint to identify what parts of the city might be best for planned downsizing [read: demolition]. The .pdf below is the final result.


So, obviously, this is pretty simplistic and conceptual. I have a more detailed report, and if you’re interested in method, specific conclusions or the like, email me and I’d be happy to send it your way. But the short version is this: Flint’s population is less than a third of what the built environment can accommodate; this is a problem. Despite our nostalgia for places of past glory, it’s time to rethink, and probably, to demolish. Not that demolition is straightforward (or cheap) either. One thing we shouldn’t do is glorify decay. I’m certainly not the first person to suggest this (see links below), but I wanted to do an analysis that would help me think more concretely about downsizing in a specific place and not just in the abstract.

This project was also a lesson in data acquisition, but the city of Flint came through in the end. My thanks to the wonderful, if overworked, city employees I talked to for that.

Some resources about downsizing in the Rustbelt:

“An Effort to Save Flint, Mich. by shrinking it,” NY Times, 21 April 2009.

Genesee County Land Bank

Youngstown, Ohio