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Reimagining Detroit: Opportunities for Redefining an American City (Painted Turtle) Paperback – September 9, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

Suggests ways for Detroit to become a smaller but better city in the twenty first century and proposes productive uses for the city's vacant spaces.

About the Author

John Gallagher is a veteran journalist who writes about urban and economic development for the Detroit Free Press. He joined the newspaper in 1987. John's other books include Great Architecture of Michigan and, as co-author, AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture.
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Product Details

  • Series: Painted Turtle
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Painted Turtle (September 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814334695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814334690
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #681,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Peter Kageyama on October 21, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Though the book focuses on Detroit, the challenges outlined here are readily applicable to other, post-industrial cities that are struggling to reimagine themselves in the 21st century.

Most think that Detroit is vacant/empty because of the loss of population over the past generation. Certainly that is part of it, but Gallagher points out that the size of Detroit was immense from the beginning. With enough land to encompass all of San Francisco, Boston and Manhattan, Detroit was spread out to begin with. This has now come back to be a serious challenge for the city.

Urban farming is an often noted solution to these empty spaces and Gallagher takes a serious look at the pros and cons of the popular idea. He accurately points out that urban farming alone is not a panacea for the city and at best, would be a part of any overall solution to the problem. He estimates that currently there are approximately 500+ acres of community gardens in the area or roughly one square mile of urban farms. Detroit has over 40 square miles of vacant land which makes you understand the challenge of what to do with all that space.

In order to make urban farming an economic possibility there needs to be a fundamental shift in the way we think about locally grown foods. Gallagher points out that only about 2% of Detroit's food could be considered locally grown. If that were boosted to 5-10% then the economics starts to become possible.

One missing conversation in the book is the possibility of medical marijuana farms. Michigan approved med marijuana in 2008 but large scale growth and distribution has yet to be implemented. Marijuana being a high value to acreage product might change some of the economics.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Debra McMillan on February 16, 2011
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John Gallagher, with his background knowledge on Detroit's architecture and urban issues, writes clearly regarding the major problems plaging the urban fabric of Detroit. Enlightening without being accusatory, he shows the challenges and opportunities facing the city. Unlike most media, which poses questions without providing answers, Mr. Gallagher proposes three definite steps that can be taken to begin the revitalization of Detroit. Rather than trying to fix everything at once, or being too generalized and idealized, his ideas make sense and seem readily achievable. In addition to his own opinion and experiences, he cites other cities in similar situations, as well as the experiences of other individuals dealing with urban issues, trying to make a difference in our American cities. Excellent!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Todd Stauffer on March 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a Jackson, Mississippi newspaper publisher and recent visitor to Detroit, I enjoyed this book thoroughly, as it offers potential solutions and ideas for urban environments all over the country. Well researched and crisply written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kathryn on January 8, 2013
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This book inspired me to look into Urban Planning departments in the state of Michigan. I highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in a forward-thinking approach to the future of post-industrial America and beyond.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Bw on January 4, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author presents a decent overview of various ways to improve the city of Detroit. He portrays many ways to manage shrinking cities, that clearly he supports personally. He often mentions that there is opposition to these practices but rarely provides the opposing position's concerns. This book clearly has a bias and even though most if not all of the programs suggested I agree with, it is vital to understand the opposite opinions and viewpoints, if not because often they have valid concerns, but at least in order to be able to address the opposition. Halfway through the book I had to find out more about the author; he is a journalist, not an academic. There is a lack of depth to this book that is troubling. The ideas presented are very good ideas but they are not as clearly beneficial as the author may think or at least portray.
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Relevant, easy-to-read, and insightful look into Detroit's future based on its unique history. A large gamut of issues are discussed from auto and development history to micro and macro urban design, economics, and politics. Colorful comparisons are made with other cities (both US and abroad) that have had similar problems to Detroit and have developed solutions. In this sense, the relevance of this book extends far beyond just the future of Detriot, but to the future of all American cities.
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