Detroit's top 10 urban planning blunders (and 10 successes) 

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  • Courtesy Walter Reuther Library, Wayne State University

Blunder: Bulldozing of Black Bottom and Paradise Valley
Demolitions began on the Gratiot Redevelopment Project, Detroit's first major urban renewal venture, in 1950. Eventually about 2,000 families, virtually all African-American, would be displaced from the project site, which included the historically black neighborhoods of Black Bottom and Paradise Valley. Hastings Street was bulldozed completely and converted into a 0.6-mile expressway to nowhere. When the city attempted to auction off 51 parcels in the project district in July 1952, it received zero bids. No longer generating any tax revenue, the land became overgrown with weeds while waiting for developers to show interest. Finally, in 1956, ground was finally broken for the first building in what is now called Lafayette Park.


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