One of the most common discussion points we see around Detroit is comparing it to other cities. Although we believe Detroit stands on its own, it’s natural to try to relate our situation with others.
However, many comparisons are drawn to cities like San Francisco, New York, and Boston – and then we got to thinking.
Our team, having been to many of these cities we’re compared to, knows that there are some differences. But one of the keys for perspective is geographical, because the geography of a place affects the decisions made over time.
Many have thought about this, including Dan Pitera at the University of Detroit Mercy who was one of the first to mention this comparison.
You’ll see the entire cities of Boston and San Francisco, as well as the borough of Manhattan fit into the land area of the City of Detroit. People have wondered why we don’t have land prices as high as those areas, even though we’re a top city and metro area; and it’s because we’re simply more spread out. We simply have more land to work with than other places.
Those three areas mentioned are over 3,000,000 people; where the city of Detroit has 844,993. So when you’re making planning decisions, you need to take density into account, whatever you decide to do.
To be honest, 3,000,000 people inside the city isn’t going to happen anytime soon. That kind of density will simply not occur. So as we move the city forward – we need to remember that our solutions are going to be uniquely Detroit – that what works in other areas may not or may need to be modified to meet the reality on the ground.
A friend once said that if you want Chicago, or New York – move there, because Detroit will never be those places. And that’s true. Detroit will always be uniquely, excellently, creatively Detroit. And we should own that, and stop working so hard to be someplace else. We’ll find our renewed success when we walk tall and remember that Detroit is a great place to be with opportunities you’re not going to find anywhere else.