By on May 6, 2011

Photos courtesy of Cars In Depth

As a Detroiter I hate ruin porn. I particularly hate it when lazy journalists, bloggers, editors and video crews shoot photos or video, or worse, use stock footage and pics, of the Michigan Central Station and the old Packard plant. So I’m a little reluctant to share these photos that I shot just south of State Fair, east of Woodward. Ultimately, the photos were just too good, so emblematic of Detroit’s decay, that I had to share them. Also, it’s an opportunity to share some hope about the city.

I was coming back from Detroit’s east side headed to Woodlawn Cemetery to shoot some photos of the Dodge Brother’s tomb. Woodlawn is on Woodward across the street from the State Fair Grounds just south of the city limits at Eight Mile Road. My dad’s veterinary hospital was on Woodward just north of Seven Mile Road which meant it was more or less on my path. For some reason I decided to cut through the streets just off of Woodward, behind where my father’s clinic was (and where Dr. Francis, a nice Iraqi Chaldean who interned under my dad still practices). I was maybe two blocks east of Woodward and a block or so south of State Fair, at Bauman and Adeline which is only 1/2 mile south of Eight Mile. I had no idea that urban prairie had spread so close to the city limits.

This is what happens when a city loses 60% or more of its population.

I spotted this rear clip from what appears to be a 1980s Corvette sitting at the curb. I generally abhor ruin porn. I visited the Packard plant ruin not long ago and I just couldn’t bring myself to shoot any 3D there, but the Corvette has such a distinctive shape and the fraction of a car looked so incongruous and forlorn that I stopped to take some photos. Is there are more identifiable automotive body part than the rear clip to a ‘Vette? A broken and shattered symbol of Detroit muscle, characterized by the Corvette’s rear haunches, sits amidst empty lots and vandalized buildings.

I’m glad I stopped to take the photos, though, and not just because of some cliched images of the bottoming out Motor City. While I was taking these photos, I noticed what looked like a carnival of sorts behind a fence surrounding a cluster of remaining homes on State Fair and Adeline. You can see it in the background of the photo above. It turns out that some urban homesteaders are trying to make a stand, buying and rehabbing properties, and running a large annual Halloween event that has gained legendary status in the Detroit area, the Theater Bizarre. I stopped to speak to Ken Poirier who owns most of the properties and builds the sets for the show. There’s an abandoned elementary school on the carner of Bauman and State Fair. Poirier told me that only 10 years ago the city had spent millions renovating the school. Now, it’s slowly being gutted by strippers and scrappers.

Still Poirier has set down roots in the neighborhood and he and his merry band of artists and other creative folks are staying for the long haul. One would think that the city would appreciate people moving into the area and creating economic activity, bringing suburbanites and city dwellers together. Theater Bizarre has helped stabilize a rotting neighborhood and has grown from year to year. In 2008 it was 1,700 and in 2009 2,200 attended, costume required. Last year they sold 3,000 tickets at $65 a pop and that’s when the bureaucrats stepped in.

Understand that this is a labor of love more than profit. Theater Bizarre breaks even, and then only because there are volunteers who work hard to put on what is a truly a professional show with literally hundreds of entertainers. Still, bureaucrats and regulators will do what bureaucrats and regulators are want to do. Fire marshals shut down the 2010 event before it happened.

Speaking to the Detroit News at the time, Poirier explained “The fire marshal came down today and disliked everything, everything. Also, we are in a residential area and you can’t have something like this in a residential area.”

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing’s spokesperson Karen Dumas told the Detroit Free Press, “There are codes and requirements that the city must respect and enforce. We encourage those who wish to present events and activities to do the same.”

The event was moved to Detroit’s Fillmore, but it wasn’t the same.

When I spoke to Poirier a few weeks ago he was hopeful that they’d be able to get all the required permits for Halloween 2011. He’s a good neighbor. The remaining original occupants of nearby buildings love him and attend Detroit’s best Halloween party and spook show. Poirier’s properties may be surrounded by a tall fence but he’s not insulating himself. The fences are just to provide security and a sense of safety to the annual revelers. Poirier does his bit to clean up outside his fence. The tires you see near the Corvette clip are there because he put them there, collecting them from around the neighborhood, where dumpers had left them. In that sense the photos have been staged, but once you know the story what at first appears to be a sign of decay is actually the first green shoots of new growth.

You can see the photos in your choice of 3D formats at Cars In Depth.

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62 Comments on “Corvette Clip Out On The Urban Prairie...”


  • avatar

    The clip is from a ’74-’77 Corvette: post Endura rear bumper (new to meet ’74 5mph bumper regs for rear; ’68-’73s have an all-fiberglass-with-chrome-bumperettes rear end), pre-fastback rear glass (new for ’78).

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Sorry to say as someone that has lived in metro Detroit for 54 years these pictures are representative of the entire city with few exceptions, most notably downtown and several nicer neighborhoods like Palmer Park, Boston Edison & Indian Village.

    About 85% of the city looks like this or worse because the abandoned homes haven’t been torn down.

    Very sad but true.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s only on the other side of Woodward from Palmer Woods, maybe three or four blocks. As I understand it, the Bing administration is tearing down the hulks at a faster rate than previous administrations, but as you can see by the article, not all in the city’s bureaucracy want to get out of the way of actual progress.

  • avatar
    SVX pearlie

    As a former Ann Arborite now living in SoCal, I agree it’s completely unnecessary to fuel negative impressions from the outside — Detroit does plenty well enough on its own. Decades of instituational decay, corruption, and scandal made Detroit as the Murder Capital of the United States and poster city for Urban Blight and Decay along with White Flight and every other thing that goes with it. Not to mention Devils Night and Coleman Young and Kwame Kilpatrick.

    The reality is that Detroit is in a death spiral, hollowing-out to become a living donut, good on the outside and empty at the core. The US Census bears this out in harsh black-and-white numbers every decade, and I don’t see things turning around anytime soon. It’s becoming too expensive for too small of a population to bail out the sinking ship.

    One day, I will go back, and hope it’s not a ghost town where I say, “this used to be a beautiful opera hall”, “this used to be the headquarters of the largest automaker in the world”, “this used to be a place where people lived and worked”

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      What ruined Detroit? It was the unions. The detroit auto companies could not compete with foreign automakers because of union costs. Detroit tried to save money by hiring too few engineers, and by building a cheap product. Game over for Detroit.

      • 0 avatar

        Sorry, but this explanation doesn’t fly. Every European auto company has unions, and they all pay even higher labor rates. Yet VW keeps growing.

        The reaction of Detroit management to the unions was at least as bad as the union itself.

        The city of Detroit’s problems also go well beyond the auto companies. Pittsburgh suffered the collapse in the steel industry and a huge population decline, but it’s a great city today.

      • 0 avatar
        jj99

        Mike, I disagree. Why are Toyota and Hondas so much better? They are not smarter. Detroit has some of the smartest engineers. Toyota and Honda spend way more on engineering and build because they spend less on non-skilled labor.

        I have also read analysts claim the Germans spend more on engineering than Detroit. The only way this can happen is if they spend less on non-skilled labor. While they may have unions, clearly the germans have more money left over to build a product people want.

        When I see the super heavy weights on new Detroit cars, this smells like cheap engineering. It is cheap to design an overweight product. It is expensive to get the weight out.

      • 0 avatar
        forraymond

        Hey jj99 – FOX NEWS MUCH? Please read legitimate news to find out that it was not the Unions that destroyed American manufacturing. (that premise is even more stupid as I type it).

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        @jj99, so you blame the unions for poor engineering? That’s a new one for sure.

        Good engineering can help reduce costs (or increase customer value and this prices), there is no reason at all why UAW’s existence would have prevented good engineering.

        (Whether bad engineering itself is a cause of the decline is a whole different discussion though …)

      • 0 avatar

        1) The UAW demanded more and more money from the automakers, using the threat of strike as a powerful blackmail tool.

        2) The cowardly automakers kowtowed to those demands, time and again… then 3) tried to make up for those grossly inflated labor costs through reduced expenditures on engineering and parts quality.

        4) The decline and death of the American automobile industry, and its once-proud capital city, was/is/should have been the inevitable result of such a shortsighted view by all parties involved. The bailouts likely just delayed the inevitable, unless everyone has learned their lessons (good luck with that.)

        It’s really not a tough chain of events to follow. It has the added benefit of being true.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s not the unions. It’s management. They were the ones who for years designed crap cars, and kept using the old outdated systems for managing workers after Toyota, Honda, and an American who worked with them whose name I forget had developed continuous quality improvement and the like. I can’t think of an American car from the mid-’70s until the ’00s that I would buy, in retrospect, with the possible exception of latter day Caprices and panthers. (I did buy a ’93 Saturn, and it was a mistake)
        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/the-truth-about-saturn/

    • 0 avatar

      forraymond,

      I’m going to say this as nicely as I can. Whenever someone makes a reference to “Faux News” or “FOX NEWS” I have a hard time accepting them as being serious. Serious, that is, in the sense of having something worth paying attention to.

      “FOX NEWS” is not an argument, it’s an imitation of an argument, and a bad one at that.

      I’m willing to acknowledge that Fox tilts right. Are you willing to acknowledge that CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, the NYT, the Wash Post, and most other newspapers, tilt reliably left?

      BTW, nothing has destroyed American manufacturing.

      From Answers.com:

      According to the latest United Nations Statistics data (http://unstats.un.org/unsd/snaama/dnllist.asp) the United States is the largest manufacturing nation, with an output of approximately $1.83 Trillion. This is followed by China at $1.79T, with these two nations far outstripping any other nations (Japan $1.05T, Germany $767B and Italy $381B). The rate of growth in manufacturing in China far outstrips that of the US, with its manufacturing industry growing more than an order of magnitude in the last two decades, during which the US has not even doubled its output.

      According to the Department of Labor (sourcing the United Nations United Nations, National Accounts Main Aggregates Database, http://unstats.un.org/) citing 2005 data the U.S. accounts for 20.6% of the worlds manufacturing nearly 1.5 times that of the 2nd largest (Japan 13.3%) and over twice 3rd largest (Germany 8.2%). The aggregate combination of the EU-15 This link has an explanation of the calculation methods and links to the charts showing the worlds top manufactures: http://www.dol.gov/asp/media/reports/chartbook/2007-06/appendixa_manufacturing.htm

      I think the US is #2 in exports.

      What has gone away is not manufacturing but rather manufacturing jobs, and a lot of that is due more to productivity gains than in offshoring jobs. A typical assembly plant employs about 2,500 people directly. A couple generations ago that would have been 10,000.

      I was just at the SAE World Congress and there were plenty of US based manufacturing companies displaying there. The thing is that what’s done here tends to be more precision, more value added work.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Are you willing to acknowledge that CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, the NYT, the Wash Post, and most other newspapers, tilt reliably left?

        No. The NYT has a few journalists who are socially liberal, but “the left” really has very little sway in mainstream media.

        The mainstream media is almost uniformly corporatist. Fox applies a populist veneer to it’s coverage and, thusly, has carved out a niche for itself, but otherwise it differs much less than people on both sides of the spectrum would like to admit.

        I just watched much of the erstwhile-Liberal Canadian media endorse the Conservatives over the more-Left-than-any-Democrat-would-dare-be NDP. I recall the same when the NDP got elected in Ontario a decade and a half ago.

        If you want to see contemporary American examples, watch how the mainstream media treats Ralph Nader, or, for the matter, right-wingers like Ron Paul. Marginalization if they’re lucky.

      • 0 avatar
        MikeAR

        Psar, are you willing to admit that you are a lefty? You are and that colors your view of left and right. I’ll admit by your standards that those news organizations are probably centrist compared to you. And I will agree wholeheartedly with you that the mainstream media are very corporatist and it is reflected in their coverage. Fox is the same way though. I do agree with Ronnie that anyone who uses the Faux News line has nothing to say.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Actually, it is accurate to say that the editorial page of the NYT is left leaning. The actual news sections are pretty centrally positioned. CNN is totally centrist. MSNBC is totally left and was hoping that a hard left station would be equally as “competitive” as a hard right station like Fox. Too bad for the lefties, it is not working out that way.

        Blaming unions exclusively for the fall of Detroit is total BS. In the 60’s when foreign competition was not competition at all, it was not the unions who decided to reuse old designs with new bodywork for years on end. It was short sighted American business mentality that put making profit more important that innovating and looking beyond the next quarter. Yeah, assembly quality began to slip but look what happened when folks like John Delorean tried to do something about it. His “quality assurance centers” that he initiated at Pontiac did a great job of boosting the quality of assembly. It also nearly cost him his job as the beancounters considered it a waste of money. Blame the unions all you want jj99 but you are ignoring over half the people who deserve the blame. Look squarely at those who tout “creating wealth” with no long term vision and other horse$hit for the downfall of Detroit. And I have to add, those Toyotas and Hondas you love so much have ballooned in weight over the years. Which is why I call BS on your previous post where you grumbled about how unreliable your 2008 Ford was. Anybody who displays such animosity to any domestic car as you do hasn’t bought one in decades…

      • 0 avatar
        donkensler

        I’m with golden2husky that the downfall of the Detroit 3 can be laid at the feet of their management in the 70’s, before the Japanese were a threat, and while the Detroit carmakers had the largest share of the luxury market. Management decided it wasn’t worth the money to design new engines that would actually run, in response to emissions controls. Management decided to go with lame-a$$ automatic transmissions that grenaded in a few years. Management decided that vinyl roofs and plastiwood everywhere were more important than actual engineering and build quality. None of these decisions had anything to do with the unions or wage rates.

        The result of these decisions was that the Detroit makers ended up with the lowest transaction prices in the market, and then couldn’t afford the union wage rates and benefits. The reason the Germans can afford their wage rates is that their cars can command premium prices in the market.

      • 0 avatar
        philipwitak

        re: golden2husky / May 6th, 2011 at 11:09 pm: “MSNBC is totally left…”

        just to make things perfectly clear, i am socially and culturally liberal/progressive; politically independent; fiscally conservative – i have been for decades – and am damn proud of it. MSNBC, which i watch daily without fail, is not “totally left.” have you never seen ‘morning joke,’ broadcast at six to nine am, eastern standard time, monday through friday?’

        and by the way, did you completely miss the results from all those polls of only a couple of months ago which confirmed that even most people who claim to be ‘conservative’ are actually quite liberal when it comes to specific issues rather that simple political ideology.

        most citizens in this country lean left in a big way. they just don’t always realize it – or, for some reason or another, can’t bring themselves to admit it.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        If you look at what people DO, as opposed to what they say, many of those claiming to be on the left are actually pretty conservative.

        Senator and former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, for example, keeps his yacht in Rhode Island instead of Massachusetts to avoid the latter state’s higher taxes.

        Higher taxes are better, except, of course, when he has to pay them himself.

        And let’s not forget the member of the family that owns The New York Times, who received a permit to carry a concealed weapon in the city. This is while the paper supported regulations that prevent average Joes and Janes from doing this.

        For that matter, the late columnist Carl Rowan favored banning handgun ownership, but later used his own handgun to shoot a trespasser who was swimming in his pool. He claimed that he had every right to protect his own life, which suggests that he apparently had been reading NRA publications in his spare time.

        And please, people…it is well documented that Hondas and Toyotas have been more reliable than comparable domestic products, with few exceptions (Ford Fusion). If your 1999 Impala or 2003 Taurus outlasted a comparable Accord, send it to the Smithsonian for display. That simply was not the experiences of people in the real world.

        In the real world, my mother-in-law’s 2004 Malibu with 64,000 miles on the odometer is an inferior car in every way to my 2003 Accord with 153,000 miles on the odometer. Maybe the 2011 Malibu is just as good as the Accord, but I’ve been hearing that one from GM management and domestic apologists for 30 years, and it never turns out to be true.

        And, yes, the union is PARTIALLY (not totally) responsible for this. Until very recently, the domestics had much higher labor costs than the transplants. That required cuts in other areas, and the quality and longevity of components on domestic cars suffered. The 2007 UAW contract (plus, building key products such as the Fusion and Fiesta in Mexico) went a long way towards leveling the playing field, but to suggest that higher labor costs had nothing to do with the Big Three’s decline is ludicrous.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Psar, are you willing to admit that you are a lefty?

        Schwa?! That’s like asking if I’ll admit the sky is blue.

        Am I lefty? Of course I’m a lefty. I’m so left I probably make most TTACers hair fall out from the amount of left-spinning particles I admit.

        I vote New Democrat. Hell, I interviewed for the New Democrats. I did page layout for the Marxist-Leninist in university. I smoked clove cigarettes. I can write (bad) poetry. I probably have a beret somewhere. My parents are hippies. I use Linux. Eck-Setra.

        Do I admit it? Geeze, what kind of question is that?

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    I refuse to go even near Detroit’s borders for any reason let alone actually inside the city limits. I regularly turn away business from Detroit located businesses because I refuse to expose myself to unnecessary danger. Between car jackings, constant car crashes, and other (usually armed) constant mayhem and knowing police and especially EMS response times are very poor, no thank you.

    As far as I’m concerned they can bulldoze most of the city and no real point in starting over as 99% of Detroit residents only live there because they can’t afford to live elsewhere.

    Detroit is a complete urban disaster in every respect.

    • 0 avatar
      jj99

      Bad news. I you live within 50 miles of downtown Detroit, then you also live in Detroit. Detroit does not end at 8 mile road.

      • 0 avatar
        mtymsi

        That is not the least bit true. There is nowhere near the crime rate, poor police & EMS response times or block by block devastation in metro Detroit’s suburbs as there is in the city itself.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        No way.

        Travelling on I-94, Ann Arbor is 45 miles away from the Ren Cen in downtown Detroit, and about the furthest thing from “Detroit” in the entire state.

        At most, “Detroit” includes the rest of Wayne county.

        But no way you’re getting me to believe that anything north of 8 Mile (Macomb or esp. Oakland counties). Novi / Farmington / Bloofield and the rest of the I-696 corridor are all quite nice.

    • 0 avatar

      mtymsi,

      I travel within the city frequently to shoot photos and video of car related sites. I’ve never been carjacked, nor been involved in a car crash (I’d rather drive on Woodward than on Orchard Lake Road, seen any kind of armed mayhem, and the one time I needed to call the police, the came and unlocked the car with a slim jim after my son left the keys in the back seat.

      Detroit has its problems but your exaggerations are not really close to reality.

      • 0 avatar
        mtymsi

        Sorry Ronnie but I vehemently disagree with you. How about the off duty Detroit police officer that was shot last night during an attempted car jacking/robbery at a gas station in Corktown? When is the last time that happened in the suburbs? And it happens on a regular basis in Detroit. I’m not exaggerating anything.

      • 0 avatar

        You mean like the two shootings at the gas station at 10 Mile and Coolidge or the shooting in the apartment complex down the street from my house in Oak Park?

      • 0 avatar

        mtymsi: I have learned to not presume to tell Detroiters how to relate to their city, but try an early morning walk downtown sometime. There’s rarely anyone on the street downtown, and the eeriness becomes beautiful in the early morning light. I’ve never had trouble walking from say, Cobo to Greektown or the MGM at any time of day.

      • 0 avatar
        mtymsi

        Ed, it is true that the core Detroit downtown area is much like any major U.S. city which is why I specifically excluded it in my original post. At the same time didn’t you just mention recently the Ren Cen Marriott staff transported you by vehicle to several nearby locations and informed you that their policy was not to allow guests to walk?

        I am as disgusted as anyone with Detroit’s current state of affairs, not only do I consider it too dangerous to visit it also costs me money because I refuse to do business in the city.

        Makes me laugh when I think about a recent statement made by Jo Ann Watson, a Detroit City Council member. She stated Detroit deserved its own Marshall Plan funding from Washington.

        And the most unfortunate thing to me is I don’t see Detroit changing in my lifetime. A once vibrant city totally destroyed by its residents.

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    I got ‘cut’ from my job in 08 and moved from Livonia to upstate SC. I recently came back and now live in Ferndale. It is utterly amazing how much you forget about the little things. Driving North, as soon as you get into Ohio, everyone drives/commutes like they have a chip on their shoulder. I haven’t seen road rage in three years and now I see borderline assaults on my commute. I forgot just how bad the self entitlement attitude was in MI. No one owes anything to this state. Don’t get me wrong: I love the auto industry and I love working here, it’s just I wish the US based auto industry was some place else. There are very little redeeming qualities about the Detroit metro. My job is the only thing I can think of besides maybe White Castle. There’s not much to rave about in this part of the country. I think Hyundai got it right by opening their manufacturing powerhouse in West Point, GA. If the big three weren’t so rooted with the UAW, it’d be a different world.

    I’ll have to swing by that area on my way home from work tonight. There’s some beautiful homes right off woodward in Highland Park, south of Palmer Woods. If I had some balls and total disregard to equity in a home, and didn’t care if my project car got jacked while I was away on business trips, I’d buy a place there and enjoy a 12 min commute.

    Another great somewhat decay resistant neighborhood: Russell Woods. The homes just south of Davidson by the park are so enjoyable to look at. The level of craftsmanship that went into the masonry of each home is astounding. I’m willing to be that the homes have mostly stood up just due to how well they were built.
    ….such a love hate relationship I have with this area.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    “As a Detroiter I hate ruin porn.”

    Why? Ruin porn actually makes Detroit look better than the reality, because it distracts attention away from the dysfunctional people that have laid waste the city.

    Now, the faster the place dries up and and blows away the better.

    BTW, I used to live nearby, so I’m not going to fall for any bs about Detroit’s saving graces.

    • 0 avatar

      Nobody said anything about saving graces. My personal feeling is that the city has bottomed out. Things are so cheap that creative types, artists and others are moving into the city. Is it significant in terms of population? Hell no, but like I said in the story, maybe the first tendrils of new growth in the ruins.

      The biggest obstacle the city faces is that of the 700,000 or so people left in the city, a disproportionate number are genuinely stupid. To begin with, half of everybody has less than average intelligence. That’s what average means. Half of the adults in Detroit, though, are functionally illiterate. Less than 25% of the kids in the Detroit Public Schools graduate. It’s the movie Idiocracy in real life.

      The story behind the news that Detroit’s population has declined 25% in 10 years is that anyone who cared about their kids and had the means to move out of the city has done so. In part, that’s why there have been shootings not far from where I live in a near suburb. Even low class folks can care about their kids.

      So there is a critical mass of stupid people, and another critical mass of public employees. There is not, however, a critical mass of private sector businesses or private sector workers.

      The 1967 riot didn’t create white flight, since by 1960 already 400,000 to 500,000 Detroiters moved to the inner ring suburbs, even as the outer neighborhoods of Detroit proper were still being developed. It wasn’t race, it was space. This was the baby boom and people wanted larger lots with bigger back yards and another bedroom in the house. From my perspective as a kid growing up in the ’50s and ’60s in NW Detroit, white flight didn’t start in earnest until about 1963 or 1964, but it happened very fast. Between 1961 and the end of 1965, my neighborhood went from all Jewish and Irish Catholic to almost all black. I was already living in the suburbs in 1967, watching the riot on a portable b&w tv.

      Where I see the riot as hurting the city is that I think it convinced the owners of small and medium sized non-retail businesses to move to the suburbs. Retailers were already chasing those who had moved. Northland Mall was the first major shopping center in the US and it was built in the 1950s, just past the Detroit city limits north of 8 Mile. But there were still jobs in the city. When all those small manufacturing and other businesses moved out of the city, that made it very hard for people to get to work if they don’t have a car, Detroit having not such great public transit. When the large manufacturing jobs started going away following the first oil crisis in 1973, there wasn’t much left in terms of employment opportunities.

      Coleman Young accelerated the flight because it meant fewer white folks to vote against him. He destroyed a neighborhood to build a factory, let other neighborhoods burn on Devil’s Night, favored grandiose plans and monuments like the people mover and the RenCen.

      Now in Detroit, other than small retail and service businesses, there just aren’t a whole lot of businesses. A couple of big assembly plants and some big facilities for automotive vendors, but not much else as far as I can see. I was driving from Redford into Detroit on Seven Mile and there’s a noticeable difference between the kinds of businesses outside of the city and those that line Seven Mile inside Detroit. And I’m talking about an area with virtually no empty buildings. That part of the west side is relatively healthy by Detroit standards, but the businesses are all hairdressers, barbers, food, day care, churches, and low level retail like party stores.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        @Ronnie: That was really well-put, thanks.

      • 0 avatar

        If you were trying to show off some tender shoots of growth, why didn’t you show off the haunted attraction?

        I think it would be interesting to see what people can do to take advantage of the nearly free real estate. I spend most of my life in Los Angeles, where any property, however derelict, had a huge market value, so I find the opposite of that situation intriguing.

        Not that I’m interested in Detroit real estate – I can’t stand the cold and just love Florida :). But it’s interesting to learn about.

        David

      • 0 avatar

        If you were trying to show off some tender shoots of growth, why didn’t you show off the haunted attraction?

        Good question. I didn’t find out about it till after I took these photos. As I started leaving, I noticed the carnival arches and as I was passing the houses on State Fair, I noticed someone pull in the drive, who turned out to be Poirier, and he gave me the cook’s tour. I suppose I should have asked about taking pictures. I’m trying to train myself to take my camera bag with me and be ready to shoot.

        You can see pics of the Theater Bizarre here:
        http://blog.gsgfilms.com/?p=88

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        Detroit (and Michigan in general) need to forget about collecting any property taxes, or at least any over and above the true value of the homes. Nobody in Detroit should be paying more than $500/yr in property tax. The Free S–t Army needs to be demobilized, and income tax on corporates and individuals needs to go away. Massive cuts in spending, massive cuts in social programs, put the multigenerational leechf–ks out on an ice floe to allow makers and doers to make and do and keep more of their income.

        As far as unions vs management go, a pox on both their houses, as long as both keep their goddamn hands out of the federal till (aka my f–king wallet).

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Looking at photos of Detroit always makes me feel sad. Fighting urban blight usually requires hard work and a lot of investment. Problem is a lot of people think that ‘investment’ equals ‘giving money to people who don’t deserve it’ and so nothing happens.
    But don’t despair. As Ronnie had written, when housing becomes insanely cheap, no matter how bad the neighborhood, you always get the cheap living, free thinking, artist/hippie types setting up shop. It’s not a quick process, but I reckon Detroit will survive. It won’t look much like it does today, but the city will survive.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      “Fighting urban blight usually requires hard work and a lot of investment. Problem is a lot of people think that ‘investment’ equals ‘giving money to people who don’t deserve it’ and so nothing happens.”

      I’m sure that’s supposed to sound pithy and thoughtful, but “investment” only makes sense if there is a return to be had — otherwise it truly is nothing more than a welfare-giveaway. In other words, “fighting urban decay” is not a valid motivation for “investment.”

      I assume the reflexive argument is that governments can “invest” and the “return” is the resumption of productive activity, but government is notoriously incapable of successfully creating things of value — and not surprisingly so, as this sort of thing should be considered well beyond their charter, since a government can only engage in such activities through the seizure and redistribution of private wealth.

  • avatar

    Ronnie,

    These shots are sad, poignant, a tad surreal. That piece of the ‘Vette reminds me of a woman I met a long time ago, who worked in a bookstore in DC and had a piece of her face missing–from a bone disease if I remember correctly. She was a beautiful young woman, but the missing part was both spooky and when I looked at her, I could feel my mind disbelieving–or being unable to process–what it was seeing.

    Your piece is also just a bit hopeful. All those artists and alternative types are the people who have set the stage for the renaissance in places like parts of Brooklyn, and Somerville, and the like.

  • avatar
    jkumpire

    Hey, we need to be honest here. there are places almost as bad as Detroit in many places: Try Gary, IN. Cleveland, Toledo, Youngstown, Akron and Canton, Ohio.

    It is really ugly in a lot of places were Manufacturing was King, and was run out by the Federal government and it’s rules and laws that choke a lot of manufacturing, along with state and local government. We can also add organized labor, and bad management. We can also add management that decided the most awful crony capitalism in the world, as practiced in China was good for business. Instead they support slave labor, enriching a few at the top instead of the mass of poor in that country, and propping up one of the top 10 worst brutal gangster governments in the world. And that doesn’t include things like supporting an obscene military budget, copyright infringement, a one child policy that leaves something like 380 males per female in the country, and forced abortion and sterilization.

    There is plenty of blame to go around.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      IIf strong central government and strong skew toward workers’ interests destroys manufacturing, why is Germany a manufacturing powerhouse? Their employment regulations and benefits make the UAW look laissez-faire, and vacation and retirement terms would have been unthinkable even in the heydey of Generous Motors.

      Germany should be a wasteland by your reckoning. But it’s not.

      Treating workers well does not destroy business. Regulation of corporations does not destroy business.

      Terribly-run businesses, perhaps, go out of business if forced to get their acts together. But government allowing corporations to treat employees badly so they can keep runing themselved badly seems like… Well, it seems like a good way to lose to the Germans and the Japanese.

  • avatar
    rhondabryant

    ’62 was the best Vet ever and the only one I’ve ever had the hots for. If it wudden the neatest, Todd n’ Buzz woodena driven one……they woulda put the show on hold until a foxier one came along. Mercifully, for all us Rt 66 fans, none ever http://bit.ly/kv5EQf

  • avatar
    kkop

    “The biggest obstacle the city faces is that of the 700,000 or so people left in the city, a disproportionate number are genuinely stupid. To begin with, half of everybody has less than average intelligence. That’s what average means. ”

    Actually, it isn’t. What you describe is the mean, not the average.

  • avatar
    william442

    Youngstown was a great place to grow up, but I doubt I will ever return. Too sad. Maybe I should quit reading the Vindicator with its false optimism? I suspect no one knows what really happened, but I am sure it was many things.

  • avatar
    obbop

    I encounter MANY ex-Californians locally who have emulated my action (fleeing California after my 1993 departure) who fled for the same or very similar reason(s).

    But… Diversity is our strength!!!

    Embrace it!!!!!!!

  • avatar
    Birddog

    I, for one,love “ruin porn”. It may be the only thing that wholly represents our consumer attitude. Newer, bigger, better, faster, and cheaper. If it’s broke just walk away they’ll make more.
    Detroit is a great representative figure in what’s wrong with our Politics, Corporate entities, Unions and the Consumer.

  • avatar
    Joss

    While I can’t relate to Detriot the place – many thanks for the education. Seems the jaw-droppping rumours I’ve heard are only partially true…

    That pic above reminds me of a an accident I saw 20-odd years ago. The only Corvette accident I’ve ever witnessed. A TC at an intersection left no injuries but the Corvette in 3 separate pieces. I know there are those of you who love these machines and I’m not knocking that. But I think I’ll stay put with unibody steel thanks. But then again unibody wouldn’t make a pic quite like that..?

  • avatar
    PlentyofCars

    The German economy survives at their high labor cost levels, because they mostly make premium products that can be sold for premium prices. I am talking about all products, not just cars.

    Look, to sell a cheaper Jetta (to Americans) they are doing what GM did. Make a car out of all the old tech from a decade ago, and cheapen the rest.

    My local VW dealer has the Jetta no haggle for $16,151 (automatic). The “entry level” Golf starts at $18,862. The Golf is no longer the cheapest VW, because they did not cheapen it. $18,862 for a 2 door hatchback with minimal options is not an economy car.

    • 0 avatar
      centennian

      >>The German economy survives at their high labor cost levels, because they mostly make premium products that can be sold for premium prices. I am talking about all products, not just cars.

      Sounds like a plan. Lots of buyers in lots of markets see solid value propositions in German goods. If Yanks want cheap(er) Jettas, fine: the Jetta only exists because Yanks don’t go in for any of this pointy shoes, premium-priced, small, *hatch*back’ kind of stuff. But I know just one truly wealthy man, and he often says “You’ll never go broke gouging the rich”.
      Trading quality for volume damaged GM and Toyota, I don’t know why it should work better for Ferdinand the Badger.

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    I like ruin porn a lot better now that I no longer live in metro Detroit. And like actual porn, some of it is stunningly artistic.

  • avatar
    StatisticalDolphin

    Ronnie Schreiber said:

    “What has gone away is not manufacturing but rather manufacturing jobs, and a lot of that is due more to productivity gains than in offshoring jobs. A typical assembly plant employs about 2,500 people directly. A couple generations ago that would have been 10,000.”

    Exactly. Robots killed Detroit. “The Terminator” is allegory. Written by a working man.

    The future belongs to the robot builders. How many of those can be found among the population of Detroit, or other similar outposts?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Interesting that Toyota is moving away from wholesale robotics, and that robots have never really been able to conquer more than the grossest assembly jobs.

      Robots are expensive. Robots break down. Robots break down expensively. Robots are imprecise and handle exceptions badly.

      I don’t disagree that mechanization and assembly have gotten better, but I’d hardly say, by a longshot, that the future belongs to robot builders…

      …because truly, these days, it looks like it belongs to media execs, lawyers and hedge-fund managers.

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    What really amazed me about Detroit bureaucracy is the fact that they charged Habitat for Humanity $500 each for empty lots on which to build houses. You would think that the city would welcome new investment, people willing to live in Detroit, and waive any charge for the abandoned real estate. Oh no, $500 please.

    Kwame shouldn’t be the only one in jail.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    I think that the attraction to ruin porn is the sheer fascination with what is truly a singularly American issue. Nowhere else in the world that I can think of has such widespread devastation without a natural disaster to lend a hand. Yes, there are individual projects that have the same sort of abandonment and decay, but each is isolated, generally the detrius of the dreamer and failure. Not wholesale cities. And well built ones as well. This is greed and stupidity on a grand scale.

    You may hate it but it’s there and it’s happening and ignoring it or trying to soft pedal it to insignificance isn’t going to help.

  • avatar
    Mike Kelley

    Gee, what do all these urban wastelands have in common? All have been ruined by decades of mostly one-party, Democrat rule. Leftism unchecked is a natural disaster, sort of like a hurricane or strong earthquake. Over-dependence on government and excessive regulation inevitably lead to decay. New Orleans, Detroit, Newark, New York, Illinois, and California are exemplars of this phenomenon.
    It seems silly to blame all Detroit’s problems on the failures of its car companies. A more functional city would have long ago reinvented itself and welcomed other industry to take up the slack. Texas has gone through several oil busts over the years, yet its resurgence has been accomplished by welcoming new business with relatively low taxes and minimal regulation. This approach will never be tried in a city or state run by leftists, so Detroit’s woes will continue.

    • 0 avatar
      newcarscostalot

      Here is an article that you might enjoy:

      http://www.commondreams.org/views01/0831-03.htm

      • 0 avatar
        Steve65

        That article pretty much discredits itself with the opening paragraph defining “libertarianism” as “radical unregulated crony capitalism”. It’s hard to take seriously anything said by someone starting from such an absurd baseline.

    • 0 avatar
      Brad2971

      While the wasting away of the city of Detroit is quite the melancholy tale, I keep wondering if everyone is missing the real reason: Nearly all that 1920s-early 1950s Detroit manufacturing and commerce infrastructure simply was not suited for modern manufacturing/commerce, and there was simply too much to make gentrification profitable.

      Look, I’m a native of South Dakota who went to high school in neighboring Nebraska. Both states were bleeding people right after it became obvious that a half-section of land (320 acres) being plowed from fence-to-fence was not sustainable, both economically and environmentally. (N.B. For those who think that man has no overall effect whatsoever on climate, two words: Dust Bowl. Topsoil from South Dakota farms was carried via the jet stream onto ships sailing in the Atlantic.). This was long before the Detroits, Garys, and Pittsburghs had their declines.

      Yet, thanks to some agriculture regulation and some farm subsidies, those that remain in farming in the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Kansas can do so quite comfortably. So much so, that both Dakotas and Nebraska happen to have the nations LOWEST unemployment rates. So maybe BOTH sides (such as they are) are missing the point.

  • avatar
    newcarscostalot

    I think that the points about deregulation are valid, and a counterpoint to Mikes comment. I also think that the points mentioned in the article about deregulation describe the thought process (talking points?) of a neocon as opposed to a liberal. I consider my self left leaning, and don’t agree that deregulation is a good thing. Oops! That was supposed to be a reply, not a new comment.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      The article is pretty much worthless…for example, cable television was NOT completely deregulated. Regulations were simply pushed down to a lower level of government (local government here in Pennsylvania), and they were able to sign monopoly agreements with one provder.

      And I love how the benefits of airline and trucking deregulation are airily dismissed as hurting the workers, without noting the benefits to CONSUMERS (the people who really matter) in the form of lower prices. This was even as safety records IMPROVED for those sectors, contrary to the dire predictions at the time.

      And to suggest that the recent financial crisis was the result of deregulation is nonsense…unless the government meddling in financial markets now constitutes deregulation.

      • 0 avatar
        newcarscostalot

        I’m not sure about airline ticket prices, but the article did mention that prices have been reduced in regards to deregulation of the trucking industry. Also, I agree that bailing out the financial institutions was a bad idea.


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