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ABSTRACT

An effective way to understand the slow death of the city of Detroit is through the prism of the course of a terminal disease, tracing the stages of symptom assessment, diagnosis, and curative intervention. This essay explores that notion by taking off from several recent books about Detroit's catastrophic decline that employ the language of urban morbidity and mortality to describe the city's condition. Urban death is a function of the withering or failure of crucial vital urban functions involving, principally, governance and economic opportunity. By that standard the essay concludes that it is becoming hard to call Detroit a living city anymore.