Pontiac: The ‘Platform City’ That Never Was

Pontiac is the seat of Michigan’s wealthiest county, but much of downtown is vacant as the city’s population has fallen steadily from its 1970 peak of 85,000. No, don’t blame it on the auto industry. The decline began in 1960 when county offices moved to an undeveloped field on the city’s fringe, and was hastened over the next few years as neighborhoods were razed to create Wide Track Drive (now the Woodward Loop), a ring road which allowed two intersecting highways to bypass the city center altogether.

To cap it all off—pun intended—planners C. Don Davidson and Bruno Leon envisioned demolishing much of downtown to create an elevated ‘platform city’ that would span the downtown street grid, reaching from one parking structure to the next.

This never happened, of course. By the time construction began in 1980, much of the ‘Pontiac Plan’ had already been forgotten. All we were left with was a parking garage.

See my article in Mode Shift for more.

Walk Score Gives Detroit the Shaft

(And El Paso, Too, But We Don’t Care About Them*)

Walk Score‘s oft-cited walkability index rates the pedestrian-friendliness of locations throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and even provides on its website easily-readable green-to-red heat maps for U. S. addresses. It gives Detroit a score of 50 out of 100, ranking our city at #22 in the 50 largest municipalities in the United States. Not bad, right?

Except, as cycling blog m-bike.org observes, Walk Score is broken.

One glance at the Walk Score website’s map view, and it is quite obvious that something has gone terribly wrong with the organization’s assessment of our city:

Green=good, red=bad. Screenshot: www.walkscore.com

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