The thread about Detroit’s Pontiac Silverdome got me thinking: what if people just kept leaving Detroit until the population becomes so small that it couldn’t really be considered a big city anymore?
According to wiki, Detroit’s high of 1.8 million people in 1950 has dropped by half. Suppose things hold true and the other 900000 currently left in Detroit move out in the next 50 years, what happens then? Do they redraw the borders to something that the city can sustain? Do neighborhoods break off and form their own cities?
I was thinking that a city like Flint, Michigan, with its reliance on one industry, would be particularly vulnerable to this type of population exodus. Wiki says its suffering from a similar fate as Detroit: A high population in 1960 of about 196000 people dwindling to about 112000 currently. Since Detroit and the Detroit Metro area still has millions of people, it could fall back on other things to sustain it. Flint may go into the 5 digits in people within 10 years, and who knows after that?
My question is, has a big or semi-big city ever had most of it population leave and had to downgrade, for lack of a better term? What happens to its land, do the surrounding cities take them, does it revert to a state-controlled municipality, or what? If so, what’s the biggest city this has ever happened to? We all know about how a city grows but I find it interesting to see how a city dies as well.