The auto industry was the secret to Detroit’s success. Its “Fordist” model of industrialization was also the cause of Detroit’s decline, according to Edward Glaeser’s Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier (8-9):

“Cities thrive when they have many small firms and skilled citizens. Detroit was once a buzzing beehive of small-scale interconnected inventors - Henry Ford was just one among many gift entrepreneurs. But the extravagant success of Ford’s big idea destroyed that older, more innovative city. Detroit’s twentieth-century grown brought hundreds of thousands of less-well-educated workers to vast factories, which became fortresses apart from the city and the world. While industrial diversity, entrepreneurship, and education lead to innovation, the Detroit model led to urban decline.”

More on: History

Articles by Peter J. Leithart

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