Although Detroit has been experiencing population loss since 1950, it hasn't been occurring at the same rate each decade, and some neighbourhoods have lost more population since 1950 than others. However, it's actually even more complicated than that, so in this post I'm hoping to show some of the more detailed trends by showing maps of census tract level population change by decade, starting with the 1940s:
changes in racial demographics in Detroit you'll see that this population growth was occurring in areas experiencing rapid white flight.
If you think about it, that's not as strange as it initially seems. Black household sizes were probably larger than white household sizes at the time, so as long as the number of occupied housing units stayed more or less stable, population growth could occur. This suggests white flight had a more indirect effect on population decline in neighbourhoods.
I suspect what happened was that as a result of whites suddenly leaving neighbourhoods, the large supply of housing available caused prices to drop, encouraging blacks to move from older ghettos into these newer homes. Due to the difficulty of getting loans due to problems like redlining, or just because the oversupply of housing meant housing costs were low and it wasn't worthwhile investing in homes in ghettos, homes in the ghettos weren't as well maintained or at least not updated to modern standards. It seems like rather than white flight leading to immediate population loss in the newly forming ghettos, it lead to population loss in the aging ghettos closer to the core as blacks fled the aging ghettos (ie areas with 20%+ losses on the Detroit map) for the homes freed up by white flight.
Does a similar pattern hold in the 70s?
white flight maps, the neighbourhoods that grew on the west side were pretty much in the middle of the white flight ring and the neighbourhoods that were the most stable on the north and east sides were also experiencing white flight.
You also see the areas of intense population loss expand significantly from essentially the area inside Grand Boulevard in the 60s to most of the area bounded by Conner/6 Mile/Livernois.
However, although Detroit experienced lower overall population loss in the 90s than in the 80s, there are still neighbourhoods that appeared stable in the 80s that began experiencing significant population loss in the 90s, mainly Brightmoor, but also to a lesser extent Gratiot-6 Mile and Grandale.
Finally there's the 2000s map that many have probably already seen if you've look at the New York Times maps. Rates of population loss increase in most of the outlying neighbourhoods with just a few census tracts, mostly in/near downtown experiencing population growth.