Blast from the past: the Suburbia County proposal of the 1970s
Remember Suburbia County? We admit, we were entirely unaware of this short-lived pitch from the 1970s to break off the western portion of Wayne County and form a new county — literally — called “Suburbia.”
A kind reader passed along the above map which details the proposed secession, an idea spawned by, it appears, then State Rep. Thomas Brown, a Democrat from Westland. Based on the map above, the plan would slice off everything besides Detroit and the Grosse Pointes. Thanks to a quick Google News search and a ProQuest database query, we were able to locate a couple stories from the time to explain what the hell was going on.
Wayne County was having serious budget problems in the late 1970s, and by October 1979, had run out of cash, according to a story from The New York Times. Then-Gov. William Milliken’s proposed solution was to reorganize the county under a structure that had a single top executive, but the county’s “36 independently elected commissioners and department heads do not want their political bailiwicks tampered with,” the Times reported at the time. Without cash, and soon to be missing payroll, one county commissioner decided to throw his support behind the idea of secession. Because, of course.
By February 1980, a bill to make this suburban dream a reality was on the state House floor, The Associated Press reported at the time. But the idea of “isolating Detroit and forming a government of sprawling suburbs [was] shipped back to committee where it [would] almost certainly die.”
Brown’s thought process was to name the county “Suburbia” because it…would represent sprawling suburbs seemingly looking to ditch Detroit. This came from the guy who touted the fact his city took its name stems from a shopping mall. Impressive.
We’re quite thankful this short-lived plan was left to rot in legislative purgatory.