Detroit is not New Orleans.

And New Orleans is not Detroit. But the comparison is made often, and I spoke with more than one Detroiter who felt strongly that there not be any confusion about how much New Orleans and Detroit are NOT alike. Several were also unsure why exactly people were so keen and quick to compare them.

From my position as an outsider of both cities, and through the work I’m doing, I can see the similarities imagined and material in these places; particularly in the “creative cities” model of development advanced by Richard Florida and others. At the same time, these cities are not the same. The creatives-oriented type of development and “renewal” flatten the landscapes, people, and histories of places.

So while I am looking for discursive and development-level similarities between New Orleans, Detroit, and New York (often cited as a beacon or model of potential for other post-crisis cities), I am not ignoring the specificity of each place. In examining both I hope to provide a means for thinking of ways to address these discursive flattenings and resulting material effects and “renewals.”