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Detroit: From Motor City to Service Hub
Detroit: From motor city to service hub

THE POLITICAL HISTORY of Detroit reflects its multiethnic heritage and evolution as a center of industrial unionism in America. Unlike Carl Sandburg's Chicago, a city with big shoulders, Detroit has always had small shoulders on which ethnic groups found it hard to co-exist and were doomed to spatial conflict. In 1925 and 1943 two major race riots were caused, in part, by housing competition, unemployment, and poor police-community relations. After World War II the city politicians spent considerable time trying to keep ethnic whites and blacks apart. Ethnic groups increasingly saw city politics in zero-sum terms.

In Big City Politics (Banfield, 1965), Detroit politics was characterized as a balancing act between the array ...

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