Detroit's economy is facing forward. Now it just needs some new verbiage.
"Former heavy manufacturing hubs around the Great Lakes like Pittsburgh, Detroit, Cleveland, and Milwaukee often get roped together under the heading of "post-industrial" (when, that is, we're not otherwise identifying them by their prevalence of rust). The term poses at least two problems, though: Industry still exists in many of these places, and the very notion of defining them by their relationship to the past can hamstring us from planning more thoughtfully for their future.
"You've got the 'post-war,' you've got 'post-modern,' you've got 'post-9/11,'" says Paul Kapp, an associate professor in the school of architecture at the University of Illinois and an editor of the book SynergiCity: Reinventing the Postindustrial City. He was speaking Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Planning Association (hosted in what's often considered the post-industrial city of Chicago). "You get to a point," Kapp says, "where you've got to say, 'When does post-something end and you do something new?' I think with 'post-industrial,' we're at that opportunity now. I think it's now time to come up with a new term."