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Another Shrinking City Chooses Which Neighborhoods To Save

Detroit
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

More people lived in Detroit in 1920 than live there today. The city's population fell by 25 percent over the past decade and by almost 60 percent in the past half century.

But as the city has emptied out, its physical boundaries haven't changed. So now, the NYT reports, city officials are "working through difficult decisions that will determine which neighborhoods can be saved and which cannot."

But cities don't shrink in predictable, orderly ways, and figuring out which neighborhoods to support is tough:

...vacant, dilapidated homes and empty lots speckle Detroit's neighborhoods, rather than cropping up in consolidated, convenient chunks on the city edges, leaving a more vibrant core. In fact, some of the city's best-kept neighborhoods are on its outer edges, while the troubled spots are closer to downtown.

Detroit's shrinking pains are similar to those we described in a recent story about Youngstown, Ohio.

"We needed as a city to recognize that we're a smaller city," Bill D'Avignon, head of Youngstown city planning, told us. "We're not going to grow; we're never going to be the Youngstown we thought we were going to be."