Your Friendly Neighborhood Casino Billboard

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Keeping watch like F. Scott’s blue eyes.

“They only put these in certain areas,” one resident of the neighborhood I work in told me. It’s not the first quasi-conspiratorial take on the city’s three casinos that I’ve heard in my time in Detroit. Whether or not MGM Grand’s intentions are sinister, billboards do tend to appear near highways and Detroit’s highway system (including the John C. Lodge expressway this billboard overlooks) was designed to specifically bludgeon poor and black neighborhoods. As Thomas Sugrue writes in The Origins of the Urban Crisis:

Detroit’s highway planners were careful to ensure that construction of the new high-speed expressways would only minimally disrupt middle-class residential areas, but they had little such concern for black neighborhoods, especially those closest to downtown. Instead, they viewed inner-city highway construction, in Detroit as in other major American cities, North and South, as ‘a handy device for razing slums.’


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