By on May 25, 2014

detroit

Detroit’s free-fall from perhaps the wealthiest city in the United States to a lawless hellhole most reminiscent of post-colonial Africa has been documented to the point that the phrase “ruin porn” now sits comfortably in the driver’s seat of our national discourse. But it isn’t just Michigan Central Station that has rapidly decayed into pathos.

GoobingDetroit uses the Street View Time Machine to show how many neighborhoods in Detroit have simply disappeared into the weeds since 2008. Interviews with residents and supporting materials are included. It’s a project of the same people behind “Why Don’t We Own This?” and it’s worth going through — if you can take it. These are more than just buildings disappearing; they are dreams, hopes, entire lives, lost to factors beyond their individual control, the pawns of their putative betters and the worse off for it.

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252 Comments on “Detroit, Collapsing Before Your Eyes...”


  • avatar
    skog

    Incredible how fast nature reclaims unused territory.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    You are watching “Life After People” on the History Channel…

    • 0 avatar

      ROBOCOP warned us this would happen.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      More like life after Chinese manufacturing!

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Nah… well under way in the late ’70s for the rubber, steel & glass regions. China was still ruining Chinese lives with the tail end of the Great Cultural Revolution. First Japan, then South Korea, then China were handed these basic industries by the Americans who managed and profited by them.

        • 0 avatar
          Superdessucke

          Fair enough. I was just referencing the current situs of the engine that once made these homes and neighborhoods beautiful.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            But there aren’t any Chinese made cars running around America whose manufacture took away Detroit jobs.

          • 0 avatar
            Superdessucke

            @Kenmore — That’s true but there are many parts are built there and there’s also lost export opportunity. China is a big market for U.S. vehicles but they’re built there because Chinese would tariff the you-know-what out of any U.S. built vehicle sold in their market. That and the cost of labor and manufacturing is ridiculously cheap there because their government doesn’t subject industry to the same restrictions that U.S. manufacturers are subjected to (minimum wage, maximum hours, child labor restrictions, pollution controls, workplace safety standards, etc.).

            The Chinese government minimizes imports and maximizes exports with the United States in order to steal U.S. industries. They minimize imports through currency manipulation, tariffs, and non-tariff barriers. And they maximize exports through currency manipulation and export subsidies.

            So yes, I think Detroit’s current condition could be said to be a (partial) result of this. I think there’s definitely other factors though.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          @Kenmore
          So, the Americans made Japan and Sth Korea?

          It think you’ll find the Japanese and Europeans had a significant influence in Korea.

          And now much automated equipment going into China comes from Europe particularly Germany and Japan.

          You are very open minded, not. I can see why Detroit is the way it is with people like you who don’t even understand modern history. It’s all US centric I bet;)

          Did you know that Datsun engine technology was reliant on Austin and Morris technology?

          And the Godzilla engines can trace their heritage back to them?

          But hey, weren’t Austin and Morris US companies?????????? Hmmmmm…….

          I suppose history is only as good as those who write and interpret.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Even though you put words in people’s mouths and are impervious to any logic that requires reading comprehension, you still deserve the dignity of a reply.

            Once.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Hey, Big Al, per Wikipedia:

            “The Ford Motor Company of Japan was established in 1925 and a production plant was set up in Yokohama. General Motors established operations in Osaka in 1927. Chrysler also came to Japan and set up Kyoritsu Motors. Ford and GM showed Japan the importance of mass production technology, quality control of subcontracting parts
            manufacturers, and how to establish a national sales network. Between 1925 and 1936, the United States Big Three automakers’ Japanese subsidiaries produced a total of 208,967 vehicles, compared to the domestic producers total of 12,127 vehicles. In 1936, the Japanese government passed the Automobile Manufacturing Industry Law, which was intended to promote the domestic auto industry and reduce foreign competition. Companies formed under this act included Toyota and Datsun, by 1939 the foreign manufacturers had been forced out of Japan.”

            Yeah, Al, looks to me like the US taught Japan a whole lot about the auto industry and then they threw us out.

            You’ve got a lot of nerve complaining about the Chicken Tax (which doesn’t effect you at all)in light of this.

            “I suppose history is only as good as those who write and interpret.”

            That’s right, Big Al, and we all pretty much think you suck at it.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Lie2me
            I think you will find it was the Japanese who initiated the modernisation and industrialisation of the country.

            The Japanese like the US before them used and expanded on existing ideas and technologies from wherever they could get them.

            Remember the US gained it’s expertise from Europe as well. Mass production isn’t a US innovation. The Chinese were using mass production a thousand or so years before the US even existed. Carthage also were mass producing ships before the JC even existed, so did the Venetians.

            By the time Ford came to Japan the Japanese were already a modern industrialised nation, no different than a western nation.

            The efforts after WWII was not only done by the US, but also other nations. The US did a lot of work, but the US had a significantly large resource base.

            http://www.uefap.com/reading/exercise/texts/britjap.htm

            http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/special/japan_1750_meiji.htm

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “The Japanese like the US before them used and expanded on existing ideas and technologies from wherever they could get them.”

            We’re speaking of the auto industry here. The US created the technology that Japan expanded on to beat us at our own game. The modern auto industry wasn’t a technology that we got from anyone else and simply passed it along.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Lie2me
            Hey, L2M as per YOUR Wikipedia article, the previous para.

            It seems Fiat was there earlier than Ford.

            Cars built in Japan before World War II tended to be based on European or American models. The 1917 Mitsubishi Model A was based on the Fiat A3-3 design. (This model was considered to be the first mass-produced car in Japan, with 22 units produced.) In the 1930s, Nissan Motors’ cars were based on the Austin 7 and Graham-Paige dyou is a fatheresigns, while the Toyota AA model was based on the Chrysler Airflow. Ohta built cars in the 1930s based on Ford models, while Chiyoda built a car resembling a 1935 Pontiac, and Sumida built a car similar to a LaSalle.[3][4]

            It isn’t all America. America does great things. But the motor industry started in the EU and the US adopted it.

            The Big 3 were in Japan and from what I’ve read Austin was with Datusn early in the piece, sort of like I stated.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Lie2Me
            Here’s a little history. Henry Ford couldn’t had achieved what he had if it wasn’t for an Hungarian scientist who invented the AC electric motor the guys name was Anyos Jedlik.

            The US used his idea (fancy that) and built commercial electric motors. This was the beginning of the Technological Industrial Revolution.

            This allowed for the freeing up of labour and more automated processes were gradually employed. Steam engine became passé. Metal stamping, machining, etc became part of mass production by the 1890s.

            Henry Ford didn’t invent anything. He maximized the use of the electric motors and developed efficient use of manpower.

            Henry Ford was a brilliant man, he was innovative and used and expanded on existing technologies.

            Mass production was already in full swing by the time Henry made the first Model T.

            The electric motor is the equivalent of what we have today with the computer on the impact on the industrial revolution.

            Many thought the electric motor would remove their jobs via automation, that was over 120 years ago. But the electric motor gave us the motor car cheaply as well as many other consumer goods.

            The electric motor created millions of jobs and brought many out of poverty.

            We can thank that Hungarian Scientist.

          • 0 avatar
            JD23

            Jedlik’s inventions were not disclosed for many years and, consequently, they did not have significant lasting influence. Unless you’re some sort of Hungarian nationalist, you really should be thanking Orsted, Faraday, or even Siemens.

          • 0 avatar

            Yeah, Ford did not invent anything and so Steve Jobs. Bill Gates did not invent OS or Basic or Spreadsheet or anything else as well as Larry Page and Sergey Brin – search engine existed long before Goggle.

            Albert Einstein did not discover anything as well – Lorentz transformation, Poincaré group and Minkovski space were discovered before Einstein had to say anything about it. Riemannian geometry and the theory of Gravity existed long before General relativity, Einstein had hard time to wrap his mind around involved mathematics, had to hire mathematician. Hilbert Space existed far before Quantum mechanics. I can continue this list forever – everything is based on everything that was existed or discovered before which itself is based on a something before it.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            +1 ILO

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Al, you can believe anything you want. The industrialized world believes differently.

            From World Encyclopedia:

            “MASS PRODUCTION is a system of manufacturing based on principles such as the use of interchangeable parts, large-scale production, and the high-volume assembly line. Although ideas analogous to mass production existed in many industrialized nations dating back to the eighteenth century, the concept was not fully utilized until refined by Henry Ford in the early twentieth century and then developed over the next several decades. Ford’s success in producing the Model T automobile set the early standard for what mass production could achieve. As a result, mass production quickly became the dominant form of manufacturing around the world”

            “Even with the early successes in Europe, scholars of technology attribute the widespread adoption of mass production to trailblazers in the United States.”

            The Assembly Line per Wikipedia:

            ” The modern assembly line and its basic concept is credited to Ransom Olds, who used it to build the first mass-produced automobile, the Oldsmobile Curved Dash. Olds patented the assembly line concept, which he put to work in his Olds Motor Vehicle Company factory in 1901. This development is often overshadowed by Henry Ford, who perfected the assembly line by installing driven conveyor belts that could produce a Model T in ninety-three minutes.”

            “In the automotive industry, its success was dominating, and quickly spread worldwide. Ford France and Ford Britain in 1911, Ford Denmark 1923, Ford Germany 1925; in 1919, Vulcan (Southport, Lancashire) was the first native European manufacturer to adopt it. Soon, companies had to have assembly lines, or risk going broke by not being able to compete”

            Sorry, Al, no mention of “Austin and Morris technology” but you can think what ever you want in your little corner of the world the rest of the industrialized world doesn’t really care

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            And in related news:

            “NEW DELHI — India’s oldest car factory has abruptly suspended production of the hulking Ambassador sedan that has a nearly seven-decade history as the car of the Indian elite. The company began making the Ambassador in 1948, modeling it after the British Morris Oxford III.” AP

            See? Morris was in there influencing things after all!

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @JD23
            An intellectual challenge!

            Yes those guys do deserve credit for the work they did with inductance and magnetism.

            But it was Jedlik who finally worked out how to make and electric motor work by the use of a commutator to distribute electrical energy to the windings to allow for rotation or the armature.

            Without that there would not be an electric motor. There would of only been a magnet.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @InsideLookingOut
            The discussion was based on the premise by Lie2me that the Japanese automotive industry was based on the US’s input.

            I’m correcting him.

            Your comment actually makes sense, except for Einstein. He was in a different league.

            There is a difference between enteprenuership and a science.

            Jedlik expanded on previous work and made the electric motor work.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Yeah, and I discovered plutonium, but not being one to toot my own horn I let others take the credit, the prestige and the fortunes. History will vindicate me

            Al, you’re not correcting me, you’re trying to rewrite history. Take it up with Wikipedia they’ll entertain opposing fact-based perspectives. I’m sure the Japanese auto industry will thank you, since I guess they’ve been too weak to correct their own history

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Lie2Me
            This debate started out with the US went into Japan and set up factories and taught the Japanese about car manufacturing.

            The US didn’t go into Japan to be nice and promote industrialisation. They went into Japan to make money.

            Also, even more so then than now, to have a automotive manufacturing sector a country had to be ‘high tech’ by the standards back then. So, this also shows Japan was well advanced in industrialisation.

            What you are stating is in 100 years or so from now your great, great grandson will state on TTAC and state it was the Americans who gave China the technology they have and they screwed over the US.

            You are incorrect in your assumptions.

            The Europeans and even Australia all played a part in the industrialisation of Japan.

            Even Fiat started to manufacture cars before any of the Big 3 went into Japan.

            Everyone wanted to make a buck and increase trade.

            This isn’t a US invention or idea.

          • 0 avatar

            @al;”Your comment actually makes sense, except for Einstein. He was in a different league.”

            There was no special league for Einstein, he was a scientist as everyone else. With special relativity he gave the explanation to what already was well known. General relativity is different story but it would be discovered with or without Einstein. You cannot imagine how many bright people work in this area. Einstein is also credited with introduction of what we know as a photon and explained photoelectric effect for which he was awarded Nobel prize. And that’s it. He was totally out and did not participate in quantum mechanics, nuclear physic, particle physics, quantum field theory and so on. because he could not explain it or wrap his mind around these abstract concepts.

            And believe me nobody understands quantum theory. mainstream Copenhagen interpretation is a sad joke nobody can seriously take it explanation of how world works. If you can make sense of Hilbert space (and that is what actually world is) I will applaud you but it is beyond human apprehension. Yeah Everett come up with most reasonable interpretation but still it is far beyond of our ability to accept. Humans are very limited.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Inside Looking Out
            Yes you are correct regarding Einstein.

            But all sciences evolved, even Darwinism.

            I believe most ‘things’ evolve and are cyclic. It’s easier to comprehend that way.

            At work we have an expression “what goes around, comes around”.

            My difference of opinion with Lie2me is the fact he considers the US made the Japanese auto industry. It did have a significant influence.

            But, like I initially pointed out which started this debate the Datsun Motor Company started out with Austin, which believe it or not is British, not American.

            Even Fiat was in Japan prior to Detroit.

            I great to be patriotic about a nation. But don’t let patriotism over ride reality.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Al, your debate is not with me it is with the history I quoted from Wikipedia, take it up with them. I’m sure it won’t be the first time they’ve heard from you. I’m a subscriber so if you need an in let me know

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “My difference of opinion with Lie2me is the fact he considers the US made the Japanese auto industry. It did have a significant influence.”

            Development of the processes that made the auto industry what it is today happened in the US at the turn of the 20th century. It doesn’t matter who came up with what idea, it’s the guy who can make that idea change the world who wins the prize. Unfortunately the top dog rarely can hold on to that position, but the position was rightfully theirs.

            To have such an ego as to want to rewrite history to marginalize those accomplishments speaks volumes of what must be the product of an underwhelmingly mediocre legacy

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “Development of the processes that made the auto industry what it is today happened in the US at the turn of the 20th century.”

            Toyota studied Ford’s mass production model and transformed it into lean production. The higher quality of Japanese cars was attributable to this change.

            It took a few decades to catch on, but these days, all car manufacturers use some variation of Toyota’s lean model. Ford’s mass production approach is effectively dead: it was inefficient and the defects rate too high. Even Ford doesn’t use it anymore.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            This is true, but it wasn’t the point. Fordism was still the basis of the Japanese auto industry

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    “Why Don’t We Own This?”

    Looking at it from a different viewpoint, “Why Don’t We Own This?”, can also be viewed as the rhetorical question, “Who’s to blame for this mess?”

    Which brings up the old saw, “Success has many fathers. Failure is an orphan.”

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    The industrial world was smashed to hell after WW-II. Detroit had it’s intact, industrial moment of prosperity in the following years. THAT’s what made the “Great Detroit”. (The decline isn’t so much of a media-frenzy-shock if the prosperity didn’t happen.) Detroit’s mistake was thinking they were always entitled to it. And of course, the backward political idiocy, supported by the transplanted labor happy to have the union job.

    Detroit may be predicting ‘Year 2100 America’ if we are all so happy and accept Wall Street’s braying on the wonders of the Service-Job economy. F-THAT. Another intelligence test for citizens and government, if I have ever seen one.

    Instead of Detroit-decaying housing nobody needs (population decline, etc.), let’s go back to growing crops on these blocks like much of Michigan. Crops aren’t blight; they’re actually pleasant to see. One thing Michigan has going for it is irrigation water—take that California—you’re really a desert, you may now be strongly remembering while you take a garden hose to 50 foot flames.

    • 0 avatar
      cpthaddock

      I agree with all your points.

      Sadly. As I sit and drink my coffee with the smell of wildfire burning forest under pre-evacutation notice.

      Familiar landscapes destroyed in minutes. Wednesday, I didn’t expect to have a a house to return to. Wildfire raced to within 3 miles in under 24 hours.

      It’s so easy to be desensitized when it’s not in your own back yard and I’m no less guilty than anyone else.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-X

        And… I would have loved to live in California’s climate, till maybe now.

        • 0 avatar
          cpthaddock

          I like CA for visits :) Enjoy the trees for neighbors and Flagstaff is one of my favorite places in the world.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            @cpthaddok, psssssss… Flagstaff is in AZ.

            But yes I too enjoy California for a vacation but I don’t want to live there.

          • 0 avatar
            Detroit-X

            Prescott has my attention lately.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            cpthaddock, Have you been there recently for a visit?

            Things have changed. A (lady) friend of ours got a written warning from a city cop when she dumped her 24 empty plastic water bottles in a trashcan outside a restaurant.

            Seems, in CA you MUST recycle plastic in designated recycle bins, specifically marked as such. Has to do with the CA-CRV.

            Looking over your shoulder for a cop while on a visit to CA doesn’t sound like fun to me.

            Hoping that your out-of-state license plates don’t attract cops with a penchant for writing citations for real money also does not sound like a whole lot of fun.

            Yet this is exactly what has happened to a couple of people I know who were forewarned of the police state tactics in order to raise money for bankrupt CA, but chose to ignore the explicit warnings.

            BTW, my wife’s dad at age 87, was pulled over on I-10 Eastbound near Blythe this past March for going “too slow” (~55mph) causing lumbering 18-wheelers to have to pass him in order to maintain their 55mph allowed speed.

            He wasn’t cited, but he was given a verbal warning by a guy in a Black&White CHiP Explorer.

            That doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun to me.

      • 0 avatar
        luvmyv8

        @cpthaddock

        I’ll admit to loving living in San Diego, but last week was a sobering reminder that things can go south in a hurry; I had to evacuate from the Cocos Fire in San Marcos,Ca and I was kept away for 4 days…. the fire raged only a block away and thankfully Cal Fire kept things from really getting out of hand. Had it not been for the generosity of members of my church providing a roof over my head, I might have had to use my Wrangler as a place to sleep. Thankfully it did not come to that.

        California is a land of beauty, but also full of natural hazards too….. in the not so distant future, the San Andreas will have a really bad day, or in my neck of the woods the Rose Canyon fault…

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Detroit-X, excellent dissertation! Right on the money. But no one who benefited the most from Detroit’s past prosperity is stepping up to the plate now, are they?

      Dare I ask the question?

      Oh what the heck!?

      “Where’s the UAW in all this?”

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-X

        The UAW? Well, they were one of the culprits for the current predicament, but certainly not the only one. The UAW is so weak right now, I think they can’t do squat if they had the brains. But not all UAW members are bad. My UAW cousin bitterly complained about the protected A-holes in the Union that didn’t want to work. My father hated them for the brief time he was under their curse. And with the breathtaking incompetence and arrogance of the Big-3 execs, past and current, I always thought the UAW was exactly what they deserved. Humans can be very disappointing. And all the while, China takes advantage of this situation in the USA.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          ” My UAW cousin bitterly complained about the protected A-holes in the Union that didn’t want to work” …sounds like my dad when he was raging about having to be an IBEW member during the 40s, 50s and 60s.

          “China takes advantage of this situation in the USA.” That’s because America’s majority keeps voting in administrations that adhere to that national economic philosophy.

          It started under Bill Clinton, worsened during Shrub and now we’re in deeper than ever with O.

          I hope you realize that there is no financial solution for this mess during our lifetime, and that you are looking out for yourself by planning your own financial future, because granting amnesty to illegals is not going to turn them all into taxpaying citizens.

          More than likely, amnesty will cause our welfare and Medicaid rolls to triple. It did in the past.

          And there are no saviors waiting in the wings on either side of the political spectrum to save America from the path of self-immolation we are on. That’s a fact, Jack!

          America has changed. Better get used to it. Plan accordingly. I do. And I urge me and mine to do so as well.

          • 0 avatar
            dantes_inferno

            Well stated, Cat. Well stated!

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            Agreed HDC, except it started with LBJ

          • 0 avatar

            “More than likely, amnesty will cause our welfare and Medicaid rolls to triple”.

            More accurate is to say – it will collapse. Illegal immigrants already burn taxpayers money. But someone take advantage – like businesses and homeowners. Illegal immigrants are more willing to work that native Americans let alone for much less.

      • 0 avatar
        xtoyota

        The Detroits problems will only be solved when the animals who are tearing up the city are removed. I’m no fan of the UAW but the are not destroying the city… people are :=(
        Who in their right mind will invest money to help the Cancer that now exists in Detroit

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Detroit-X:

      The de-industrialization of America hit any number of big cities hard, but none has suffered as horribly as Detroit has for a simple reason: Detroit is the ONLY major city I can think of that relied on ONE industry – automobiles – for its well being.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    Detroit looks like our own Chernobyl. Absent a single catastrophic event, it’s also lacking the commensurate response.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I respectfully disagree. Detroit was victim to a man made catastrophic accident similar to Chernobyl. In terms of a an appropriate response, I am not sure how we, the US tax payer respond to this. Tragic as it is, further government intervention is likely to yield few lasting results. I am in agreement that the best use for the urban Detroit neighborhoods in the long term may very well be farm land.

      • 0 avatar
        cpthaddock

        I don’t disagree. I just don’t think we’ve properly thought through how to deal with industrial decline on this scale.

        If Detroit’s decline had come about suddenly, overnight, how different the ambitions and ideas might have been?

        Forget government, just for a moment.

      • 0 avatar
        fincar1

        Most farmland doesn’t need to have streets, sidewalks, concrete foundations, power lines, and water and sewer pipes removed before it can be farmed.

  • avatar
    TheyBeRollin

    Looking at these, many are clearly burning down. Arson? It obviously isn’t worth rebuilding them, otherwise the owners would have. Some are simply abandoned.

    It’s remarkable to me how fast these wood frame houses are reclaimed by the environment without constant maintenance. Is the environment that harsh there?

    Of course, I’ve always wondered how wood-frame houses gain in value anywhere north of where it freezes or close to a body of water/ocean. 70-year-old post-war tract homes in the Los Angeles area are generally still standing, but that’s just because they were built so robustly that even that many years of termites and earthquakes won’t knock them over. Everywhere else? They’re literally rotting away and their fasteners are being slowly worked out by alternating warm and cold weather.

    The 30-year-old house where my parents live in a cold climate is literally falling apart. It’s grey and sun-bleached, the foundation is cracking everywhere, and it creaks. They bought it when it was 14 years old and it already was sun-bleached and creaking with some foundation problems.

    Their value will probably forever elude me. If you want it to last, you build it out of steel or bricks…

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      Arson is too strong of a word when druggies are in the abandoned house on your block, and the city and state does nothing.

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      I’ve seen similar blight in Buffalo, NY. Niagara Falls, NY also has its Dresden-ized blocks. The freeze/thaw cycle can be carpet-bombing effective – if given a few years.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      Along Benefit Street in Providence, you can find a National Historic District of wood framed homes from the late 18th and early 19th century. You absolutely must maintain the outer envelope against water. My late 19th century home up the hill from Benefit required a lot of renovation, but I did get to sell it after 10 years for 5 1/2 times purchase price. Materials were simply superior to much of todays’ – for example, threaded brass supply plumbing and cast iron for waste.

      Detroit shows us that while according to the vision statement for the USA, people have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, municipalities don’t. The reason those Providence houses still exist is that the city’s decline was so precipitous that they couldn’t afford to bulldoze the district as a more prosperous city might have done in the 1950′s.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      “Their value will probably forever elude me. If you want it to last, you build it out of steel or bricks…”

      TheyBeRollin, no structure lasts forever. They need to change to meet the needs of the people who occupy them. A steel and concrete house built to “last forever” would be expensive to tear down, change walls, or add additions to. Communities that last are communities that change. Communities that work too hard to preserve the past prevent good changes necessary to secure their future.

      Cars also don’t last forever either. Like the wood frame house they need regular maintenance or they wear out prematurely. I hate to see hidden cost-cutting like a weak foundation or inadequate transmission cooling cause premature failure. However, no amount of maintenance can keep them from becoming outdated. Some used cars get to live out their old age preserved like a historical neighborhood, but most become scrap metal. Other used cars get transformed into something cool and different than their stock configuration.

  • avatar
    jmo

    I worked with a software developer originally from Detroit. His theory was that for so many years, there were so many high paying jobs for guys with little education, a culture developed that didn’t value education.

    • 0 avatar
      koshchei

      [b]“A population that doesn’t read is easily fooled”[/b]

      This is a really good point, and sadly part of the zeitgeist that’s undermining our North American way of life. People take pride in their ignorance, don’t take responsibility for their failures, and take no steps to correct them either.

      [b]“I am not a Liberator. Liberators do not exist. The people liberate themselves.”[/b]

      Despite what our quick-fix politicians tell us, the solution to a strong and healthy economy isn’t lowering corporate tax rates or slashing public spending, but rather developing an educated and creative workforce who can drive industrial and economic innovation, rather than merely assembling status quo until the monolithic and uncompetitive multinationals run out of suckers/people who can afford their dreck. If existing corporations don’t gobble these people up, then new corporations will.

      In many ways, we’re running on top of an avalanche. As such, we cannot afford ourselves the sentimentality of dragging along outdated business models or infrastructure with us. They may have made us great in the past, but times have changed. Neither can we afford to carry the dead weight of executives who make 40 times more than their employees, yet accomplish nothing more than the personal accumulation of wealth. These people don’t advance us; they are parasites.

      Both Canada and the US need to massively reinvest in their workforces, or we’ll see a lot more of nature reclaiming the suburbs.

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    Detroit….America’s finest third world city.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Oh, I dunno. Ever been to Memphis?

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        I’ve definitely heard a few things about Memphis not being a good place to be…being 4th in terms of violent crime rate per 100,000 people is not something to be proud of, that’s for sure. Even Baltimore and Washington DC are below Memphis in the rankings.

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          Where’s Chicago?

          According to this Chicago mag
          http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/May-2014/Chicago-crime-rates/

          the numbers may be massaged to help an unpopular mayor. ” Welcome to the Dali-esque world of Chicago crime reporting.”.

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            The statistics I found are from 2012 so they’re probably a bit inaccurate now, but in that set of statistics Chicago wasn’t even on there, guess they hadn’t gotten Chicago’s data when the list was made for whatever reason.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Chicago’s new motto:

            Chicago! Hey, we’re not as bad as Detroit

        • 0 avatar
          DubVBenz

          Not sure why you’re mentioning DC as a reference point. DC hasn’t been a high crime city for two decades now, and is now home to one of the largest group of affluent people in the country. NW DC is basically Manhattan lite at this point, and her suburbs have the highest average income households in the country.

          This isn’t DC of 1989 anymore..

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            I dunno man, I’m not highly fluent in what America is really like, I had just been told that DC wasn’t a particularly safe place outside of the government and tourism zones.

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      But TeXXXas is still our finest third world state.

    • 0 avatar
      Loki

      I’d rather live in Detroit than Baltimore.

  • avatar
    dwford

    The previous mayor of Detroit was working on a plan to consolidate the city and effectively abandon many of the basically unpopulated blocks by moving the remaining residents to other parts of the city. There is no point for there city to maintain so many empty streets when there is no chance of them being repopulated.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    “no chance of them being repopulated”

    Creepy… like Fukushima or Chernobyl but without any radiation.

  • avatar
    jmo

    And, while there is certainly a political aspect to the decline of Detroit, there is also a man who is more responsible than anyone else for the decline of Detroit, Rochester, Buffalo, Cleveland, etc: Willis Carrier. The advent of AC had a huge impact on where Americans prefer to live.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Hilarious

    • 0 avatar
      Joe McKinney

      Without airconditioning the modern South would be a very different place.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Especially given the BMI of modern Southerners.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          @Kenmore, actually many doctors argue that without our advanced heating and air-conditioning systems we would all be thinner. It turns out that shivering and sweating can be good for your health.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Very interesting… but with all due respect to the medical community I’d say that if those doctors ever had to work summer construction or industrial jobs where they fed you salt tabs and made sure you swallowed, they’d be less sanguine about daily diaphoresis.

            I’ll take frosty over healthy.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            @DubVBenz: You can use CSA, or MSA, or look at the tri-county measurement. There are several ways to slice the Detroit region.

            My point is that most of the 1.2 million-plus people who moved out of the City of Detroit didn’t move to the sunbelt, but to the suburbs or other cities on the peninsula.

            That, to me shows that it was the high costs and quality of life issues related to how the central core was governed that drove them out of the city proper.

        • 0 avatar
          Joe McKinney

          Kenmore, I was refering to the fact that AC has changed the south by making it attractive to millions of northerners whose presence has transformed the region. In Florida the joke is that the farther south you go, the closer you get to New York.

          AC has also changed the south by driving people indoors. As a result southern communities are not as tight-knit as they used to be. Before AC southerners spent their evenings on the front porch visiting with neighbors. Now they spend much of their free time indoors and have much less interaction other people in their communities.

          • 0 avatar

            Watching Fox news and listening to Rush….

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            Joe, you’re assuming all the people who left Detroit left the state.

            When Detroit had it’s largest population, about 1.8 million in the early 1950s, the METRO area was about 6.8 million. Today, Detroit is down to about 700k, but the METRO area is STILL 6.8 million.

            The population just abandoned Detroit as the central core and moved to the multiple suburban towns where there was efficient governance, better schools and less crime. You might think that metro area population could have grown a bit in 50 years, but those multiple towns ringing Detroit haven’t gotten too big to lose their quality of life.

            Once you realize where most of the Detroiters went – not far away – you might be able to zero in on the real causes of the central core rotting from within.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            JM,
            I had no intention of belittling your assessment. I agree that AC has enabled the South to truly become modern and host world-class enterprises and the people they require.

            I adore, nay, worship AC, and not just because of my sealed-system ancestry.

          • 0 avatar
            DubVBenz

            Lorenzo,

            Wikipedia says you’re off by 2.5 million people if going by the MSA, or 1.5 if going by the CSA. The MSA has declined (only slightly) in the last 35 years, but this is during a time period where the country has grown by over 100 million and most other MSAs have exploded.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “I adore, nay, worship AC, and not just because of my sealed-system ancestry”

            Sealed-system? The German in me sweats like a pig

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        And the US. DC.

        There was a reason they put it in a malarial swamp. Congress critters had to go home.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          So THAT’S the reason for what comes out of Washington – malaria! I think there might be other contributing causes, but I had a hunch it was some kind of sickness.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Depopulation? Abandoned houses? It’s the American way. You should have seen the devastation of the rural South in the late 1950′s and 1960′s after the mechanical cotton picker and pesticide chemicals had their way with the local labor force in the same way as robots and a mature local product market destroyed Detroit and Flint.

  • avatar
    anomaly149

    It’s almost like they’re ignoring all of the good things going on in Detroit. I mean, it’s not like the Land Bank exists or anything.

    How many commenters here have ever actually been in Detroit?

  • avatar
    J.Emerson

    I strongly suggest that anyone who wants to read a serious history of Detroit’s problems take up Thomas J. Sugrue’s “The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality on Postwar Detroit.” It has an enormous amount of research behind it, and it’s rightfully considered a classic. There are a lot if valuable insights in it. The most valuable part of it, for me personally, is that he demonstrates pretty conclusively that metro Detroit was already starting to lose jobs by the mid-1950′s. This is pretty counterintuitive, because everyone knows that the 50′s were the salad days of industrial employment in America. But much of that growth was outside of urban cores, in the suburbs or semi-rural areas. Flint, Pontiac, and Dearborn prospered while Detroit was already in decline. There are a lot of reasons for this, which he examines in detail. Nobody is made to take all of the blame for the crisis, which makes it depressing but more accurate.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      You’re the first response I’ve seen that didn’t make some anecdotal moral argument. Good for you, sir. You’re right the 1950s saw the industrial core of Detroit hollowed out and the smaller suburban cities that had higher income citizens basically cutting out the poorer citizens by leaving them in the city centers. It’s a classic game we’ve seen played out hundreds of times now. The poor are meant to be the servers to the suburban office workers and by segregating them into the city center where the wealthy suburbanites work and play they can effectively avoid paying for their low wages.

      It’s nothing new. Detroit is just a really obvious example and the political right has become obsessed with selling it as a condemnation of whatever policies they dislike though almost all the research on the situation points fingers elsewhere.

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        Detroit began failing in the 1950′s in large part because the city was pretty well “built out” with multi story factories; however NEW factories were designed as more efficient single story facilities that were much easier to build outside of Detroit. As older factories aged and were closed the new ones that replaced them were in areas with lots of available land.

        Throw in poor leadership, riots, high taxes, and a workforce used to high wages with almost militant union leadership and Detroit’s deindustrialization is not hard to figure out.

        More to the point, would you build a new factory in Detroit with your own money?

        Detroit’s downfall is not a conspiracy, and it is not unique. It is just the most visible example we can see. Whether we learn from it is up to us.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          Toad you wrote a great deal of subjective arguments so lets go for a quick breakdown:

          Poor leadership – Subjective, in terms of the 1950s in Urban management most cities were pedestrian. There was a great deal of federal funding and suburbs were only developing into the juggernauts.

          Riots – So did New York, LA, Chicago…The list goes on. It doesn’t really stop factories from being built, it just means that any city with a sizable African-American population during the Civil Rights era was likely to have a violent episode. Even today the factory towns that are still strong have had some racial animosity episodes.

          High Taxes – Arguable at best, taxes are not what drive factories out of cities because they don’t pay income tax, they pay a corporate tax rate that only some cities levy and usually its nominal. Not to mention the factories that remained in Detroit weren’t be taxed at Corporate rates unless the HQ was there.

          A workforce used to high wages and an almost ‘militant’ union leadership – This just smacks of bias for no good reason. If the desire was for lower wages it would have been to move outside of the US (which did happen) but is less direct in this situation.

          You had it right the first time, large-acre low-rise factories were newer and cheaper to be built near Detroit but outside the city. The complete lack of a secondary industry helped cripple the place. So lets not try to make up moral economic reasons to justify the rather pedestrian reasons.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    In the 1970s in NYC, the borough of the Bronx was afire, businesses were departing in droves for the suburbs, and Brooklyn, now the hippest of places, was a place to get away from asap. And people did in fact flee to elsewhere. If anyone had predicted what NYC would look like in 2014, you would have heard nothing positive. There are areas east of LA, outside Scottsdale, near Orlando that have fallen on awful times. The climate masks some of the debacle. Many small towns in the South and Midwest look like Potemkin Villages, with empty storefronts and empty streets. The U.S. has separated itself into the haves and have-nots. Central Philadelphia is engulfed in poverty while the surrounding suburbs are some of the wealthiest anywhere. And Detroit. Ever been to Bloomfield Hills or Birmingham? Lovely places and not that far from Detroit. So close and yet so far away. And you may have more in common with someone from Prague than from Pascagoula.

    • 0 avatar
      Hillman

      A lot of cities looked like Detroit in the 70′s. Those were some bad times for cities across the country. I visited Detroit once and the thing that got me was how different it was from the wealthy suburbs to the crumbling city. The wealth discrepancy between the city and the suburbs is the one thing I will not forget about the trip. Also, the number of people who had nothing good to say about their city.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Manufacturing didn’t die in America. Automobile manufacturing didn’t die in America. It just died in Detroit. It was a series of choices by voters, workers and company managers. It was not outside forces. It was a suicide pact. It became so expensive to make cars that failure became inevitable unless every other car company in the world was permanently banned from the US market and every other state were permanently banned from hosting the auto industry. Detroit could not compete with anyone, even its own suburbs.

    I feel sorry for Detroit residents, but they repeatedly voted for the tax, spend and regulate types who helped run the city into the ground and never gave the two-party system a chance, which would have helped put a check on corruption. The union and management malfeasance are well known. In short, Detroit fked itself. It needs to stop pointing fingers or turning up its palms.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      To be fair, the Detroit auto industry outgrew the land area of it’s original plants. Somewhat independent of Detroit political incompetence, the suburbs simply had larger contiguous chunks of land available for larger manufacturing plants. “Detroit” relocated to Oakland County.

      Top-down urban renewal probably triggered the very rapid decline of the city of Detroit. Forcing Blacks out of one part of Detroit and packing them together into another created the conditions that blew up in the 1967 Detroit Riot. People who could fled from an unsafe city. The toxic racial politics of Detroit prevent the political changes necessary to stop the death spiral.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Waingrow

      To use your logic, Mercedes, VW/Audi and BMW should have folded long ago. Their pay scales have been among the highest worldwide all during the time when Detroit and the other rust belt cities went into decline. Everyone wants simple answers and someone to blame. Cheap Japanese steel killed Buffalo, a city that at one time was one of the richest and most advanced in the country. Mill towns throughout New England went into precipitous decline after textile goods could be made offshore more cheaply, and it had nothing to do with labor unions. General Electric pulled out of Schenectady and Pittsfield and left shells behind. Please stop looking for simplistic explanations for complex and worrying events.

      • 0 avatar
        thelaine

        I didn’t say pay Jeff, I said “expensive.” I did not focus on unions in my comments, but only included them. When costs got too high, companies made cars elsewhere. Companies relocating to the US made sure they didn’t come anywhere near Detroit, despite the many potential advantages.

        My comments were intended as a rebuttal to people who where claiming Detroit died because manufacturing and auto manufacturing died in the US, therefore, what can you do? As if it were a natural disaster. Poor unlucky Detroit. Winds of change, you see. Unavoidable. Pity. Que sera sera.

        I disagree. Times change. Economic conditions change. Government, management, unions, voters in Detroit did not. They screwed themselves. They need to change the business climate and attract productive people back, not look for bailouts.

        The perception of “simplistic thinking” can be a matter of perspective. When you are defending something that is deeply flawed, it can get very complicated.

      • 0 avatar
        John Marks

        I disagree re: mill towns in New England and their demise being caused by imported goods. Imported goods came in after the New England textile industry was already as good as dead.

        New England textile mills were hurt very badly by the Depression, first of all (my mother’s father was a foreman in a shoelace factory in Rhode Island). While WWII was a mixed blessing, the advent in that time frame of affordable air conditioning did make it possible to relocate factories from New England to non-union areas such as the South.

        As early as 1944, Royal Little, the nephew of Arthur D. Little and the founder of the textile business that was the predecessor to Textron, saw the handwriting on the wall for the New England textile industry. So Little stopped investing in new textile technology and plowed profits into acquisitions in other industries, in that way both creating the model for the “diversification/conglomerate” craze of the 1960s, and effecting a self-fulfilling prophecy.

        Exactly what the balance was between exporting jobs and disinvestment, and how each contributed to the collapse of the New England textile industry is arguable. I grew up in a Union household and it was an article of faith in my parents’ generation that textile jobs were exported to non-union states, and also an article of faith that the profits of the textile industry built the aerospace industry. And if you look at the history of Textron, for the past 50 years one of the largest defense contractors (Bell Helicopter and a division that makes smart bombs and missiles of various sorts), the words fit the music.

        But all that took place while there were still protective tariffs in place and foreign competition was nothing like it became in the 1980s. Rhode Island was the costume jewelry and pocketknife capital of America, but when the trade barriers fell, all those jobs disappeared–in the 1980s. AFAIK there are two mills left in Rhode Island still making textiles–all the others are trying to attract tenants as artists’ lofts or upscale condos. Except, there aren’t enough people making enough money to sign on.

        BTW, Rhode Island’s unemployment for the past few years has been right up there with Michigan’s, in no small part the result of the Industrial Policy fantasies of the One Party that Rules the Peoples’ Democratic Republic. Rhode Island was the sole bankroll-er of baseball player Kurt Schilling’s video-game company, the burn rate of which exceeded all hopes and dreams, leaving a hole in the ground $100 million deep.

        JM

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      @thelaine:

      Your analysis is incomplete. You state: “It became so expensive to make cars that failure became inevitable unless every other car company in the world was permanently banned from the US market and every other state were permanently banned from hosting the auto industry.”

      Detroit wasn’t more expensive to build cars in per se than anywhere else – it was just more cost effective to spread production out all over the country to serve local markets. I don’t think Detroit priced itself out at all.

      And states were never “banned” from building auto plants. Big Three plants used to be located in many states – even California. For many years, the second “motor city” outside Detroit was actually St. Louis.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    White flight sucked money out of the city, aided by freeways and suburbs funded by the GI bill. Median incomes are now too low to support the tax base that is needed to support a city.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Post-colonial Africa sums it up.

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        Yep another meme about black incompetence and white superiority, a dog whistle to the Faux News crowd.

        I’ve lived on the cutting edge of capitalism my whole life as a worker in a family business, car salesperson, sales manager, buy here pay here manager and small independent car dealer and have seen first hand how many white middle-class people are such hypocrites. I’ve seen y’all’s credit reports and credit apps. I’ve seen the laziness and graft in the white privilege deal.

        Meanwhile in Tokyo, the JapanInc government gives more money to their government motors auto industry by funding the new “Research Association of Automotive Internal Combustion Engines .”

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          “Yep another meme about black incompetence and white superiority, a dog whistle to the Faux News crowd.”

          You’re welcome to suggest another example of a modern infrastructure reduced to wilderness within years. So far, we’ve heard

          * Chernobyl
          * Fukuskima
          * post-colonial Africa

          • 0 avatar
            jonnyguitar

            Wow that seems racist

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            Chernobyl – 1986 – Site of Plant and surrounding area shut down. People evacuated and thus no reason to support external infrastructure except to contain radiation.

            Fukuskima – 2011 – Site of Plant and surrounding area shut down. People evacuated and thus no reason to support external infrastructure except to contain radiation.

            Post-Colonial Africa – 20th Century – No such collapse can be found. When independence was won several variations on this premise took place, colonial capitalists maintained ownership over the manufacturing and core facilities, when natives took ownership they were forced to ship out natural resources rather than refined or face heavy tariffs, or have a complete lack of international support in order to bring up poorly constructed systems meant to extract resources and not develop the country. Because they could not borrow they were forced to work on extremely limited resources while trying to sell the one resource people were interested in purchasing so they could develop more advanced technological industries to provide.

            So before we keep throwing around ‘Post-Colonial Africa’ I suggest you do research. At the very least try not to be so clearly obtuse since the only relationship Detroit has to that example is the lack of redevelopment in new technological industries but for very dissimilar reasons.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Look for photo essays of South Africa during and after apartheid. You’ll find that you wasted your time talking about a subject you choose not to face.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @CJinSD:

            “Look for photo essays of South Africa during and after apartheid. You’ll find that you wasted your time talking about a subject you choose not to face.”

            And South Africa was just such a groovy place before apartheid went away.

            Wow. Just…wow.

          • 0 avatar
            naterator

            OK fine. Instead of “post-colonial Africa”, let’s just say “Zimbabwe”. Which was actually a complete collapse, in just half the time. Or, we could just say “Ivory Coast”. Or, “Kenya”.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        It’s nice that white privilege leaves some people with a legacy of sneering, instead of comprehension of how this happened.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      Much more than that. Detroit in 1961 elected a new wonder Lib mayor that instituted income and commuter taxes to fund his political monument-building. W/ a Dem lock on city government, people voted w/ their feet and businesses relocated out of Detroit. So Cavanaugh and riots pushed people out of Detroit.

      Cavanaugh was a disaster. Intern Michael Barone was there at ground zero and that experience turned him.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deT0s3QX4us

      Like NYC’s Mayor Lindsay, Cavanaugh was a favorite of the NYTimes. Both became political roadkill w/ ignominious ends.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      Darn, that’s it, if only they could have forced those white people to stay this would have never happened! That doesn’t sound very logical to me.

      Why would you blame white flight rather than corruption? Perhaps the white flight was worse in Detroit than most other places, but the corruption has been exceptional and sustained.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        I believe in white flight… practiced it all my life.

        But every time I make a jump and land in a nice new neighborhood… dammit!… there are already some black, brown and yellow people who beat me there! And some have nicer homes! What the..?

        I miss the exclusivity of belonging to the only bad race.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Same damn thing happens to me in my own house Kenmore. There’s just no getting away from ‘em. Wonder what they’re fleeing from?

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Funny thing is, most make better neighbors than a lot of the whites. And they don’t even CARE about losing their victim cards.

            Could it be that personal integrity is more important than race?

            Wow… I’ll get in trouble with both sides if I keep talking that kind of sh1t.

          • 0 avatar
            thelaine

            I like to see where people send their kids to school, when they have a choice. Funny to see what happens when the rubber meets the road.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          Most of the white flight neighborhoods in Houston are now pits and the land is worth less than even the worst non gentrified areas originally left behind (many of which have homes just like those in the pictures above).

          Neatest home I ever owned was in Park Hill in Denver. When the blockbusters came to chase everyone out, these people fought city hall and stayed. It became, and remains, one of the most integrated neighborhoods. Would be interesting to get some objective research on how it was affected by losing its trolley and being forced to go to autos.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @Landcrusher:

            Denver has been successful in avoiding a lot of the race pitfalls that plague other big cities, and Lord knows there are plenty of poor minorities living here.

            Three factors explain a lot of it:
            1) Denver has a decent public school system for a big city.

            2) Lower poverty rates

            3) A LOT less institutionalized racism that you’d find in most other big cities. That’s why you get a lot of very integrated neighborhoods here. Looking back on my hometown, St. Louis, and the difference is night and day – white folks live on the south side, black folks live on the north side, and none of ‘em can stand to live together.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “White Flight” doesn’t really describe the phenomenon correctly. I’d say it’s more like “middle class flight.” Last I checked, the black people who make enough to leave Detroit got out too. Same thing happened in most other industrial Midwestern cities.

      Just because someone’s black doesn’t mean he wants to live in a blighted city. And just because someone’s white doesn’t mean he wants to live in a three bedroom, two bath split level in the ‘burbs.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Oh no! That doesn’t fit the narrative. Don’t mention that!

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        You can deny it all you like, but whites responded to the elimination of racial covenants in 1948 and the banning of school segregation in 1954 by moving themselves to other jurisdictions and different schools.

        Learn about Levittown, which is a quintessential post-war suburb. The place was initially marketed as being for whites only. The first black couple to move there was greeted by white rioters who were not pleased to see them.

        The residents of city of Detroit are too poor to support their local government. Household median incomes are half the national average; how can anyone be surprised that the city would struggle when its residents can’t afford to pay for it?

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          I am fed up with whites’ defensiveness and denial about white flight. *Of course* we flee a cesspool when we can, just like anyone else.

          The entirety of America’s founding is a case of white flight; just from our own kind instead of from those with a different top-coat.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “*Of course* we flee a cesspool when we can”

            In that case, the definition of “cesspool” during the 50s was “blacks are in the neighborhood.”

            Many whites simply didn’t want to mix with blacks. When the courts forced the issue, they voted with their feet.

            This happened throughout the country. But in Detroit’s case, they didn’t just move to a different part of the same city, they left the city altogether, taking their tax dollars with them. The fact that Detroit was essentially a one-horse town sealed its fate, as there obviously wasn’t a Plan B for what to do when the auto jobs started to dry up.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            PCH,
            You once again are having problems with correlation and causation. You need to find a non racial crusade source on the block busting industry. An interesting twist is how it was often visited upon Jews.

            Yes, the root, root cause of flight was racism.

            No, the actual reason for moving for most people was not racism, but rather it was fear of the actual consequences of not reacting to changes in real estate values, city services, and school policies.

            For anyone else still reading, whenever someone brings up Levittown it’s a clue they are repeating a meme without doing much thought on it.

            And you can take a black kid out of a upper middle class neighborhood today, drop him into some of the post flight neighborhoods a half century later and see if he is not afraid of what was wrought. One of my old bosses and I looked for a home for him and his family in a nearby neighborhood to mine which is mostly upper and upper middle class blacks. A concern for him was private school tuition because he didn’t want his kids going to school with the black kids from the next neighborhood over which wasn’t all that nice. He decided to stay in the suburbs in a “McMansion”.

            So is he racist or classist or just normal?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “whenever someone brings up Levittown it’s a clue they are repeating a meme without doing much thought on it”

            You really don’t have a clue.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            Well, since you can’t defend your statements anymore than that, I will be optimistic your mind got opened a bit.

      • 0 avatar
        Hillman

        Bingo about it really being middle class flight. There are plenty of historically minority neighborhoods that were extremely wealthy until desegregation. Once the wealthy minority residents could live where they wanted to they then moved to where the rest of the wealthy or middle class went.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    I did Habitat for Humanity a few times when I was up there… it’s rather startling seeing all these homes that are just the husk of what they once were.

    Many homes are half-burned since people were in them trying to light fires to stay warm, and entire street/blocks are just charred remnants of former houses. It’s even more unsettling that people continue to live in these houses and you’ll see people come and go.

    They’re making progress to reclaim parts of the city though, it’s not all doom and gloom.

    Jack – can you post a followup to this showing the positive progress that has been made? It’s sort of like New Orleans post Katrina… media outlets got clicks by exposing the destruction for viewers, but few ever show the “truth” in the efforts to rebuild.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      My friend Andy Didirosi has been doing a variety of Detroit-positive things, including the Detroit Bus Company:

      http://thedetroitbus.com/

      Eventually, I think Detroit’s abundance of fresh water will make it a destination. Just no time soon.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Waingrow

        Jack, I agree with you. The worm always turns, just not always quickly. Who knows, sometime soon, southerners may be coming north to live to escape the unbearable heat, storms and flooding.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      holydonut, you shame us who only sit and pontificate.

  • avatar
    redav

    It’s funny how people think Gotham is NYC. That’s Metropolis.

    Gotham is clearly Detroit.

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      Arkham City, maybe.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’d say Gotham and Metropolis are BOTH New York, but Batman and Superman stories have different tones. Batman is a vigilante who mainly deals with the “local” thuggery, while Superman took on the “imminent threat to the world” super-villain types, and didn’t delve much into the “mean streets” (Superman versus the Bane, or the Joker? Talk about boring…he’d make mincemeat of both them in three seconds flat.)

      That’s why Gotham always looks grittier than Metropolis.

      By the way, many of the shots in “The Dark Knight Rises” clearly show New York.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        They’re *supposed* to both be NY.

        However, Gotham is plagued by corruption of elected officials and police, where Metropolis is not. Gotham used to be a great and wealthy city, but has fallen into ruin. Wealthy socialites (e.g, the Waynes) propped up the city with their businesses & industry, but when such left/became corrupt, the city decayed. These characteristics and themes are direct parallels to Detroit, but I can’t say the same about NY.

        Conversely, Metropolis is the big, thriving city that is the center of international attention. It is the place were upstarts go to make a name for themselves. It is where Superman can stay and still be plugged into global issues. Maybe it’s just a parallel to Manhattan and not NY as a whole.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    If you look at it from a more esoteric perspective, it’s almost like watching the end of Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke” played out in real life, when nature reclaims the land over man.

    • 0 avatar
      John Marks

      Thanks for the chuckle.

      My daughter is a graduate student in Japanese Literature–but of the Middle Ages.

      JM

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Impressive… she must be able to read grass writing.

        • 0 avatar
          John Marks

          Hi-

          Not sure what you mean by “grass writing,” but her Master’s Thesis is on the rationalization of Japanese from ideograms to phonemes, and the inconsistencies that were nonetheless preserved.

          So, yes, to get her PhD she will have to do original research on old manuscripts.

          JM

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Grass writing is the cursive, impossibly wiggly calligraphy originated in China and adopted by Japanese aristocracts as soushou, the first kanji of which means grass.

            The stylistic goal of grass writing is to complete a character without lifting the brush. Some calligraphers even move on through successive characters w/o lifting. Given the complexity of archaic hanzi/kanji with many 20+ stroke characters, you can imagine the mess.

            In keeping with the Confucian world’s love of verbal obfuscation and rigid hierarchy, near illegibility was a desired mark of rank. Naturally, more humble members of society whose writing actually had to communicate information in the common world used their brushes much more responsibly.

            But soushou is definitely what she encounters in original Middle-Ages Japanese literature. My head and eyes ache for her.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            Kenmore, that sounds like justification for doctors’ illegible writing on prescription notes.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    If we saved Detroit no one would learn anything from it. I say let it rot, and take future students there on field trips (in armored busses of course) to drive home the point that elections have consequences.

    • 0 avatar
      SayMyName

      Hard to disagree. Available evidence overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that Detroiters brought their current strife upon themselves, and thus I find it extremely difficult to give much of a **** about them or their failed, pro-Dem/pro-union metropolis.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      It won’t be a lesson for long. Detroit is ideally located near iron, coal, and as Jack mentions, fresh water resources, and the entire Michigan peninsula is underlain with oil and gas bearing shale.

      Once the city government is abolished and its debt discharged at pennies on the dollar, all those vacant blocks will be very attractive places for development, especially when combined into the large parcels needed for industry.

      It took awhile for the South to rise again, but it did, on the influx of new people from elsewhere moving in with new jobs in new fields. Detroit will be no different, after it clears the political and economic detritus of failed governance.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      Thank you, Andy Mellon, I’m glad your political stupidity will never die in the hearts’ of economically incompetent moral economists everywhere. It’s as if you never died, was buried, and your political ideology became the laughing stock of every rational being in history….

  • avatar
    StatisticalDolphin

    A comment thread about the ruins of Detroit would not be complete without a reference to Walt’s house. It’s at 238 Rhode Island Street, Highland Park, MI. Remember to stay off the lawn.

  • avatar

    http://autosandeconomics.blogspot.com/2013/07/mack-stamping-or-tale-of-detroits.html

    From AutosandEconomics

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      That’s a good story, and reading about the deficiencies of the Mack Stamping building should give anyone a good idea why the multi-story 1902 Packard plant buildings have never been re-used by any industry, and allowed to rot.

    • 0 avatar
      Blue-S

      Mr. Ruggles, thank you for the link to a reasonable analysis on the city’s manufacturing decline. It stands in sharp contrast to the anti-union hyperbole usually seen in the comments around here.

  • avatar
    Styles79

    I recall heady exclamations of property investors in NZ expressing how amazingly cheap property in Detriot was, and how there we such bargain prices for properties there that you “couldn’t go wrong”.

    I imagine plenty of them are regretting their “investments” now.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      Reminds me of the gung-ho Bushites I knew who bought Iraqi dinar.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        C’mon, WordPress…. my comment got busted because I appended “ites” to “Bush”?

        OK, this isn’t my first rodeo.

        In the 3rd grade I had my mouth washed out with Ivory by Sister Nikolaia for saying aitch-ee-double-hockey-sticks on the playground.

        She told me my potty-mouth made Jesus cry.

        • 0 avatar
          CGHill

          It’s the embedded word that WordPress thought it saw: last two letters of “Bush,” first two of “ites.”

          There is absurd precedent for this: in the 1980s, BBS purification needs led to the suppression of words like “Saturday” (lose the two letters at each end and hold your nose), and more recently, “specialist” was blocked in some software because it contains the name of a drug apparently very popular among fake pharmacies with access to spam servers.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Keerist… we’ve got to police embedded word’s now, too? I’ve just gotten off a watchathon of both Le Carre series (Alec Guinness for God!) and I’m feeling seriously creeped.

            Thanks for your explanation.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          “She told me my potty-mouth made Jesus cry.”

          This story made me cry… She should have whacked you with a hockey stick

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            Hockey sticks are not standard issue in Catholic schools. In my school, Sister Mary Himmler used a heavy, 18-inch ruler. That wasn’t her real name, just what the older kids called her. It might have been because of her round, steel rimmed glasses. Then again, it might have been the mustache. But I understand the problem of nuns who lie. One of them lied to me, telling me throwing spitballs was a cardinal sin. It’s only a venal sin – for a cardinal sin, you have to, like, kill somebody.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    What about all the gas, water and electrical hookups to these derelict homes? What’s being done about the rotting conduits, valves and branch damage to power lines?

    There must be an emerging professional field for municipal end of life care.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Oh, I can think of a few on here who would be excellent at cleaning out the sewer lines by hand. They certainly excel at verbal effluvia.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Suit me up, pay me big, I’ll work it on my weekends.

        Was friends with a French woman in the ’80s whose uncle was some kind of Sewer King in Lyon. The man lived large once he had his business built.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Those individual house hook ups are shut off at the main with the empty pipes allowed to rot with the house, and the electrical boxes and lines (telephone too) removed so they can’t be reconnected unless there’s a paying customer to charge for reconnection.

      Where whole blocks are empty, the water, sewer, and gas mains themselves are shut down and abandoned under the streets, and sometimes even the electrical/telephone poles removed, with remaining service areas re-routed.

      When I worked on a new freeway through an urban area, that’s what utilities and the city did, and multi-block areas remained that way for nearly 20 years until funding was found to actually build the freeway.

  • avatar
    mcs

    I’ve always thought that one of the reasons for Detroit’s demise was it’s city income tax. Having your business in the suburbs meant a little more money in your paycheck.

    One way I’d fix Detroit is to declare the downtown area to be sales tax free and guarantee that it would stay that way for several years. Next, lower state income taxes for anyone living in Detroit. Then, everything might just fix itself.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      Voodoo economics at its best. Pennsylvania has a state income tax as does Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Both are doing economically fine in comparison. Most citizens don’t care about income tax. Most responses are based around property value per square foot and perceptions of safety. In fact the reason exurbs even got popular was that you could build 4K square feet on a middle class income that bought you 2K in the suburbs and 1200-1500 inside the city. The cost of redeveloping older lots exceeds the cost of simply clear cutting forests for McMansions.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        You are incorrect about the development costs, at least where I live. Home removal is nothing compared to tree removal plus adding utilities. The only thing cheaper is that there is often less regulatory burden outside of municipalities, but it’s not that bad here.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          LC – Where you live can be anywhere, house removal is substantial in almost any urban center not to mention the fact that you normally need a hearing to combine lots for legal reasons.

          The real issue is one of individual owners vs. mass developers. Most developers only move into the urban redevelopment when they’ve been offered a city block. Individual owners don’t want to go through the trouble of redevelopment because it is more expensive in legal fees and time to get something like that done than it is to simply cut down somebody’s forest and build a series of slapdash houses for a standard fee. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong (and nominally I believe it’s wrong….) but I recognize the system is stacked against the urban centers redeveloping because the system is if anything thorough. Exurbs are functionally wilderness in terms of regulation and home developers have the manpower to go push through 100 homes at a time because when the paperwork runs together you’re only paying once for a big project.

          This is where I actually support a true reform of housing redevelopment that invites individuals to reinvest in neighborhoods and puts barriers up to multi-home landlords.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            X,
            I paid 3500 to remove a small bungalow from a lot in Houston. Because we could reuse much of the plumbing, I saved almost all of that back.

            Combining lots is rarely done here. The trend is unfortunately towards greater density because a bunch of idiot policy experts keep recommending density as a money saver when clearly history shows the opposite. Commonly, a bungalow, 1,200 to 3,000 sq ft, is removed from a 4,000 to 6,000 sq ft lot and is replaced by two homes of 2,500 to over 4,000 plus sq feet each.

            There have been developers making money on utility and water system scams in new suburban developments, but that has mostly changed. The second you put in a road, a new development costs more than infill. What is going to kill infill here is if they continue to allow massive density increasing apartments next to deed restricted neighborhoods. That will start another flight of earners while destroying any chance of fixing the ISD. So far though, it’s still one of the best laid out cities of its size in history and it was all done without any zoning laws.

            How does that differ with your experience?

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        >> Voodoo economics at its best
        It’s not voodoo economics. For one thing, having a no sales tax zone (with a limit something for something like under $3,000 purchases) would encourage stores to locate downtown and would bring in shoppers. Travel to Salem or Nashua New Hampshire for a look at what happens when you go with no sales tax.

        I don’t know when you lived in Detroit area, but when I did, there was a lot of grumbling about the Detroit City tax and that getting away from it was an incentive to work in the suburbs. People do complain about it.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The city income tax doesn’t help when surrounding municipalities don’t have one. The major issue, though, is what you don’t get for that extra 2.4%. Same goes for the high property taxes in the city of Detroit. Who would would be OK with paying higher rates compared to other nearby municipalities to get basically nothing in return? I don’t mean anything additional in return, I mean hardly anything at all. The mass exodus proves that it’s basially no one.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Danio – Google search seems to undermine that view on property taxes. The City of Detroit’s total millage is 84.5, Dearborn a close suburb is 70.6. Royal Oak is 55+ (they seem to be better at hiding their overall millage).

        Detroit’s average home value – 35K
        Dearborn’s – 107K
        Royal Oak – 172K

        Just to keep the argument somewhat fair, lets say the person who could afford a home in Royal Oak instead buys a home in Detroit but maintains the goal of doubling square footage, so 70K. The homes in Dearborn and Royal Oak are still more expensive per square foot and overall than a home in Detroit. Taxes on property value are normally substantially higher in the suburbs combined with a nominal increase in home value makes the argument over taxation based on property moot.

        Then again when we’re discussing taxes on TTAC you mind as well just throw out the research and go with the gut, right?

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Throw out the research? Google only proves what I stated, the rates are higher in Detroit. Your examples only prove you don’t have much experience with Detroit or you deliberately cherry picked Royal Oak to try and make a point that people actually don’t mind taxes.

          There are plenty of communities in the Metro Detroit area with millage rates far below that of Detroit, but with average home prices much closer than the examples you gave.

          Even if the actual nominal amount ends up being slightly higher for comparable quality housing just outside Detroit, residents actually get services for their taxes. See, I agree that people generally don’t mind paying taxes…when they feel they’re getting something in return. In the case of Detroiters, those that do pay are getting boned. No, taxes aren’t the only reason to avoid Detroit, but they don’t help.

    • 0 avatar
      xtoyota

      That makes a lot of sense…………..That guarantees it won’t happen

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    That Goobing Detroit link is an eye opener.

    Talk about domino effect. One boarded up home eventually taking the entire street out in 5 years.

    The owners of these properties and the banks who foreclosed without keeping them maintained, didn’t do anyone any favors.

    The arsonists and chavs just made it irreversible.

    • 0 avatar

      Note also that the Banks are very, very good at avoiding any municipal responsibility for properties they “own” which become run down. A favorite ploy is to file a “Notice of Foreclosure” but not to proceed further. This ices the house as far as any transfers, but keeps the prior (gone) owner as the “person of record”.

      • 0 avatar
        Crabspirits

        I always wondered how that happened. Thanks.

        Had I lived on a block like that, I might be inclined to “cut out the cancer” to preserve what’s left. In most cases, the arsonists are doing everyone a favor. Still sad to watch it go to waste. I’m between homes right now, and would love to have some of these. I wonder what you could do with some cleverly applied house numbers. Does Detroit really care that much about squatters?

        There should be a more proactive approach by the city to repossess these derelicts, and place bodies in them free and clear so they at least pay taxes (hopefully, they would have a job), and maintain the property.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “Does Detroit really care that much about squatters?”

          Nope, the city would be happy if you moved in and cut the lawn. There are a good number of squatters that have satellite TV, water and power services setup to their claimed dwellings. It’s all about claiming their “right” to be there.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Will degradation become so great in areas of Detroit that it will become cheaper to just let them go?

    If you read up history you will see many cities come and go.

    The problem with Detroit it was very reliant on the one industry and it’s people and government mismanaged the city by not influencing diversification.

    If feel sorry for those who live in such squalour.

    Like a few have suggested. Detroit is the outcome of socialism in a supply and demand society.

    Socialism is the worst form of capitalism. A socialist wants what a capitalist has, but without taking any risk to acquire. Sounds like the UAW, Detroit City and Michigan.

    Detroit proves you must remain competitive and progressive to survive.

    • 0 avatar
      billfrombuckhead

      Spoken with the confidence of someone with a government job in a welfare state. ROFL

      Plenty of abandoned towns all over America for various reasons , many in very pro-crapitalist areas.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @billfrombuckhead
        Those towns obviously were mismanaged like Detroit.

        If you look at what cities remained over millennia you will see some constant qualities exhibited.

        For Detroit to survive it must become an Alpha city. This will be a challenge, probably an unrealistic challenge.

        Detroit doesn’t have the politics, finance, education, trade, industry, transport, ie, port facilities, etc to even rise much above an industrial manufacturing centre.

        Don’t get me wrong it does have some of the above mentioned, but it doesn’t have enough of a tangible influence in these areas to make it a dominant centre.

        The industrial age is ending/transforming, so is Detroit as a major centre.

        Detroit didn’t have those qualities to allow for permanence.

        Detroit will be known in history of it’s part in the industrial revolution. Liverpool/Manchester were once the wealthiest industrial regions globally. Look at them, they still exist, but only as a shadow of their former global position.

        The only way Detroit can rise from the ashes is through programs that are subsidised in some shape or form via the US taxpayers.

        This then again takes away from it’s permanence.

        Detroit will never be a New York, Paris, London or even a Sydney.

        I just doesn’t deliver and isn’t in the position to deliver what’s necessary for long term survival.

        I view Detroit sort of like a one hit wonder.

        http://www.spottedbylocals.com/blog/alpha-beta-and-gamma-cities/

        Liverpool even had more to offer the world as a centre of trade and influence. Have a read of history.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Liverpool

        The only people who can save Detroit are the people of Detroit. It has to be a cultural shift in attitude and politics to allow for Detroit to exist.

  • avatar
    doug-g

    Don’t let it be forgot / That once there was a spot / For one brief shining moment / That was known as Camelot!

    http://oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Chevrolet/1956_Chevrolet/1956_Chevrolet_Story/1956%20Chevrolet%20Story-00a.html

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    “the pawns of their putative betters.”
    Meaning the voters of Detroit over many years elected putative betters promising something for nothing.
    Now Detroit wants a bailout.
    Promised $300M by Obama and $100M by their governor.
    Won’t fix that mess.

  • avatar

    Between the weeds and the cockroaches, the earth will take care of herself.

  • avatar

    G Richard Wagoner, better known as Red Ink Rick, and Company are personally responsible for the degradation of Detroit, Flint, and much of the Mid West. I warned you, I called it, and you didn’t listen. the man is a criminal and now you are feeling the effects. the rat should be shanghaied (no pun intended), tarred and feathered, and put in a jail cell next to Ebbers and Madoff. the American public is so stupid. Walter Reuther would never have allowed this to happen. that man was a truly great American.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      GM was in decline while Wagoner was still in High School. If you really believe what you wrote it is no wonder that GM is ignoring your “return to greatness” or whatever plan you have to turn back the GM clock.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      What? No mention of Smith? You’re quickly becoming this generation’s Michael Moore.

  • avatar

    It looks like there was a war. Oh wait, as far as I recall there was a war and Japanese won. Or It looks as if Bolsheviks took Detroit over. Oh wait…

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Detroit is no longer the center of the auto industry. The online world has now become that destination.

    Toyota and Nissan no longer need California.

    GM and Chrysler no longer need to be in Detroit, or Michigan, or the midwest.

    A company’s base of operations does not require geographic proximity. It requires a strong talent base. the greater Detorit area does have that to varying degrees. The city no longer has that base which means that past history will not save the city of Detroit.

    The best thing that could happen to Detroit is a complete dis-incorporation of the city government. Liquidate the assets. Give the pensioners some relief on a federal level, and let the remaining parties fight it out in bankruptcy court.

    The citizens of the city of Detroit do have one obligation that needs to be satisfied, and that is the right of representation. One party rule almost always leads to ruin in this country and hopefully, maybe, the folks there will get a second chance to avoid that outcome.

    Let the voting booth determine the new cities, counties and townships of what is now the Detroit city limits.

    From there, you can auction off the Detroit name to the highest bidder. The world will begin anew and the citizens will finally have a more manageable form of self-government.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    I am not so sure that ideology really matters here. I am sure there was much enabling of the crooks by the liberal machine, but the bottom line here was corruption. There is bound to be some conservative version of this somewhere.

    The lesson is that corruption doesn’t work, and the people that let it go and covered up for partisan reasons were just as bad as the ones doing it. The situation is shameful, and no one outside Detroit, except those enabling the corruption, are likely to have any responsibility.

    The only silver lining that could come from this is if somehow it leads to a way for property owners to have some say over what jurisdictions they are in. Or, at least some way jurisdictions that can’t provide services should lose their claims should be formulated. A little competition would keep them on line.

  • avatar
    TomHend

    Hat tip to ohboylepr

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPQ44RDOAx4

    The mocking of GM has begun

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Detroit was a major regional financial center until the crash of 1929. Then it turned out that Detroit bankers had been too bullish on the auto industry, and many of the major local banks went broke. This was the end of Detroit as a major regional financial center.

    That event accounts for the unusual configuration of its downtown – a lot of empty space between a scattering of office skyscrapers. In most US cities developed in the 19th and 20th centuries, the downtown high rise office buildings are much more closely clustered. My first visit to Detroit was in 1970, and I still remember how odd the look of its downtown struck my eye.

    Imo, the lack of a big time financial services sector was a major factor in the city’s decline. By the 1960′s Detroit city was too crowded for actual manufacturing, and it had nothing really substantial to fall back on. In the 1960′s they cleaned up the river, and Henry Ford built the RenCen and still nothing much happened. Decline, ugly as it is, must have looked like the correct option.

    No doubt the city will eventually successfully reinvent itself for the 21st century. The end result will almost surely have roughly half the population of its 1960′s peak. The crooked politicians will have to go. Civic attitudes will have to adjust. Who knows? Maybe the city of Detroit will be redeveloped largely as a residential suburb.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @jimbob457
      I agree with much of what you wrote.

      Cities are like organisms, they need nourishment to exist.

      Detroit did have it’s time. But I’m not too sure it will become what it once was.

      Detroit is in the wrong position and doesn’t represent the US like New York or San Francisco.

      To create a great city it needs more than one or two things that are special. Unless much of what NY does or DC or LA can be transplanted into Detroit it will at best stabilise.

      I’m waiting for the day when Californian or Texan cities start to degenerate.

      It will happen here in Australia as well. But we have a large immigration program and that does help.

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      “…Who wants to live in an area where everyone is carrying a gun just to feel safe. ..”

      But the NRA tells me we should all be packin’ to feel safe, no matter where we are….schools, churches, theatres. Ain’t that the ‘Murican way? Say it ain’t so…

  • avatar
    Victor

    Most of you guys here are americans, maybe a handful of commentators are not from US, Canada or Western Europe.

    In my early 30s now I’m a son of the cold war, watched the wall coming down in the evening news. Capitalist ruins have a certain shock-and-awe effect, that’s when you realise that all of the capitalism rethoric was just, you know, rethoric. And also that the american way of life is just as prone to failure as the next regime.

    I get the sense that you Americans are not really expecting this kind of thing to come along, this kind of in-your-face debacle of something once great. I sort of expect that from my country.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @Victor
      I do think your views are a little harsh regarding capitalism and it’s success.

      The US unfairly gets the blame for many of the globes woes. But the US does view itself as the leader of the ‘free’ world. The free world consists of many nations. Initially the West is termed the West because of Western Europe, not the US.

      The failure of Detroit isn’t really a big issue in the scheme of things. It is a big issue in it’s region and for the UAW and American car lovers.

      The lack of flexibility is why Detroit failed, both industrially and politically. This is what occurs when a ‘one party’ system has to much influence both in the city and on the factory floor.

      Back to the US. The US is the greatest nation on earth, but sometimes this doesn’t mean the best. All countries have some form of failure or another. There is no such thing as a perfect system because humans aren’t infallible.

      The Western Culture is by far the most successful culture to have ever existed. It will gradually morph as it has always done. Go back a few hundred years and religion had much influence in politics compared to today.

      If you haven’t realised yet culture is a tool and system for survival of many people. Culture is what determines our destiny.

      The US will survive, even with the current spate of industrial issues the US has had. But the US isn’t alone with these problems. The West is now littered with many countries facing similar challenges.

      We in the West are adjusting to a new world where we must consider how we share the earths resources. We in the West have promoted our culture to the world and want everyone to be like us. Many do want to be like us. But their cultures sometimes don’t allow for the liberties we have for them to progress societally.

      Many view cars, TVs, nice homes, plenty of food as the norm and it pretty much is. But for us to be where we are a system must be in place to allow for the free flow of ideas and progress towards even better ways.

      This is where many cultures outside of the West fail. The people that exist within these cultures don’t have the luxury of freedom required to go out and make mistakes and expand both financially and ideologically. Without freedom, a society can’t expect to have what we have. The Chinese will soon find this out.

      I don’t know what country you are in, but it would have been nice of you to give some indication where you are.

      Because if you’re in an OECD economy, you will have more opportunity than most in the world of achieving and having a good life with a car, home, etc.

      • 0 avatar

        Future will surprise you. The purpose of West and America was and is to invent computers and AI and that’s all. Biologically developed intelligence has a limited capabilities limited by speed of chemical reactions, limit of size of brain and energy biological objects are able to generate. Eventual fate of humans is to become pets or endangered species of much higher intelligence. Already happening in the West large portion of population has a pet status well because they cannot compete with machines and it only will only accelerate over time. These are old ideas and old prophesy – read “Childhoods End” by Arthur Clarke, published in 40s or 50s and I tend to trust Clarke’s vision. It will happen one or other way but the whole world will become like Detroit except much nicer and and more comfortable and in material abundance. Future is brighter than we think it is but is extremely boring.

        • 0 avatar
          thelaine

          Dude, I only read the first two sentences and then took some drugs and watched an amazing pornathon. Sorry. What were you saying? Wait..is that guy giving out donuts? I’ll be right back.

        • 0 avatar
          Victor

          I’ve been saying that for years. Skynet will come alive sooner or later. Then The Matrix will naturally follow, once we blew up the Sun. Which inevitably we’ll do. I’m betting big on meat and complex carbohydrates consumption, obesity to prevent me from experience much further future.

      • 0 avatar
        Victor

        @Big Al, I’m brazilian and I live in Rio de Janeiro. That was one good answer, and I’m sorry if my point of view came across a bit harsh.

        I’m not a communist; I do live in a country that, if it is not as developed, at least is free. We have free press, we have constitutional freedom of speech, we have a fully functional judiciary system and we’ve been experiencing democracy for over 25 years now. We do lack in several areas, but somehow we are getting there.

        My point is, capitalism is not the free ticket to success that its rethoric made millions of people believe it was. Not even in its “home turf”. But like I said, I’m no communist.

        Anyway, capitalism as a system, has many problems that must be adressed. Maybe the american culture takes care of them in ways I do not fully understand. If I could choose, Brazil would be a bit more like Finland. Actually, a lot more like Finland. Or maybe France.

        Another two terms of PT’s government and we’ll be more like Venezuela, actually. But I digress.

        Anyway, maybe I’ve been watching too many Michael Moore movies on Netflix.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        Big Al, the US is full of former boom towns. Industries rise and fall. Technology changes render the old way of doing things obsolete. Detroit is unusual mostly in that it occurred on such a large scale. Cities that survive continually reinvent themselves.

  • avatar
    BobinPgh

    Some of what we see here may be intentional. Is there not a program in Detroit where the city will “cut off” unpopulated areas of the city and turn off all the power, water and sewers to save money and thus, the area reverts to its natural state? The city also closes off the street so it doesn’t have to be maintained.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    In my opinion, it is very easy to see what brought down metro Detroit. On average, metro Detroit has a low average education level. For example, in metro Boston, more than 50% of the population has a 4 year college degree. Undereducated metro Detroit can not compete with advanced economies on the east and west coast. metro Detroit is now in competition with China. Tell me how that works out.

    Part of the educational shortfall metro Detroit suffers is rooted in it’s inability to attract the college educated transplant, let alone keep the homegrown college educated from leaving. Even though I went to college at UM-AA, there is not a single community in the entire metro Detroit area I could be comfortable residing in. Who wants to live in an area where everyone is carrying a gun just to feel safe. I don’t blame them … metro Detroit is downright scary to visit. Back in the early 90s, it was a great town, and parts of Oakland county were highly desirable. No more.

    Back in the 90s, when I graduated from college, homes in Birmingham, MI and Northville, MI were actually more expensive than homes in cities such as Manhattan Beach, CA and Corona Del Mar, CA. Now, those CA zip codes start at just under 2 million. This reflects the stunning decline of metro Detroit’s upper class. The decline of metro Detroit extends far beyond the Detroit border.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      47% of Detroit residents are functionally illiterate. To call that an education problem is an understatement.

    • 0 avatar

      Sorry, but even expensive homes in Birmingham or Northville or in Grosse Pointe or on Grosse Ile or in Barton Hills above A2 never approached the cost of expensive homes in California. Never. Even when the economy has boomed around here, the Detroit area has always had relatively inexpensive house prices.

      A million dollars has always bought you a million dollar home in the Detroit area, maybe even on a lake. Not so for California.

      There were Bentleys and Benzes aplenty when I was in downtown Birmingham last week to pick up a “bumpy cake” at the Sanders store on Old Woodward. Business has declined so much in Birmingham that the closest open parking space was two blocks away.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      I’d feel comfortable living in several different suburbs of Detroit…in the summer. Lots of engineers, “uneducated” skilled trades people, and “car guys” who can build cool stuff. The problem is winter precipitation.

      I live in an area of Texas where gun ownership is common, but not universal. Never seen anyone brandish a gun in 20 years. Also have never seen anyone get mugged or carjacked. Criminals have to be cautious. “An armed society is a polite society…”.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @George B:

        Then explain why the two largest cities in Texas – Houston and Dallas – both have substantially higher violent crime rates than New York and L.A., two much larger cities with far more restrictive gun laws than you’d find anywhere in Texas.

        Gun laws have little to do with crime, one way or another.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          Where do you get your stats? I checked Wiki and one other site and found we were beating New York on violent crime rates.

          You have to be careful with city vs metro and how the metro is defined. Without the methodology being truly objective, you could likely flip New York and Houston stats on just about anything you want outside of western wear and bankers.

          Also, I was unaware LA really had restrictive gun laws. The heroes in that game are usually NY, DC, and Chicago.

          Concealed carry is often cited as a crime prevention tool. The press under reports crimes stopped by concealed gun which are rather common nowadays. OTOH, a permit holder passes wind in public and film will be on at 11. There are many factors though, so I wouldn’t trust any studies to lack partisanship. We likely don’t have objective data.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            No, these are all cities. Both Dallas and Houston have higher violent crime rates overall than New York or L.A. No getting around it.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_cities_by_crime_rate

            “The press under reports crimes stopped by concealed gun which are rather common nowadays.”

            And I just looked up the gun laws in the city of Detroit – they’re the same as in the state of Michigan as a whole, which has fairly unrestricted concealed carry laws. So does Missouri, which has two cities with very high crime rates (St. Louis and Kansas City). Clearly those laws aren’t helping much.

            And some “shall issue” cities have lower crime rates. And some cities with more restrictive gun laws have higher crime rates.

            There is little correlation between loosening or tightening gun laws and crime rates.

            Now, if you could do a sortable graph that shows data like average family income, unemployment rate, and the like, I think you’d be able to quickly size things up.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            First, you are correct about the stats. I looked at New York, Buffalo. Oops. Also, looking around the webs, the stats are just misleading all around. Mostly because the real correlation has nothing to do with anything except a some really badly violent areas. The East Palo Alto example was a good one.

            So the stats don’t show a lot of correlation unless you go by state and there isn’t much there either. Of course, that cuts both ways. If the gun laws aren’t helping, why have them? We certainly have more than enough laws to keep with already.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    @Jack Baruth
    Here’s an article from one of our Australian newspapers on the plight of Detroit with some interesting photography.

    It’s really sad regarding the state of the city. But, I really don’t see much of a future unless their is a massive change in direction.

    The difference between Detroit and say New Orleans is the heart and soul of Detroit is diminishing. But this will occur when so many leave.

    A new Detroit is needed, but it will be unrecognisable. The Big 3 can no longer sustain the city.

    http://www.news.com.au/travel/world-travel/after-the-apocalypse-why-detroit-americas-saddest-city-is-an-inspiration/story-e6frfqc9-1226931948373

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Wow, that house in the photos sure needs a shed full of Husqvarna.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    We can debate all day long as to who is at fault for the demise of Detroit as with any part of the rust belt. Despite unions and bloated local, state, and federal governments this was probably going to happen anyway. Manufacturing is going to where the labor and the costs will be lower. A hundred years ago it was the US that was the place to manufacture with cheap labor and abundant resources, today it is China and Asia. China will eventually go through the same thing we are going through as another lower cost place to manufacture replaces them. In the textile and furniture manufacturing Vietnam has become the less expensive place to manufacture. Detroit’s best option is to remove the blighted buildings and use the reclaimed land for farming. Detroit will probably never be what they were in the past but then neither will most of the cities in the rust belt such as Dayton, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and other such cities. These cities do not have to completely die but they can exist though much smaller and with a different type of economy. Dayton, OH has moved from becoming a GM, Delphi, NCR, and Dayco to become a service city for health care, a major law firm, and etc. The manufacturing is not coming back and the only option is to move on.

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      Problem for metro Detroit is they can’t move on. The new high profit margin industries avoid metro Detroit. Why? Because these new industries require higher education levels than metro Detroit offers. So, while the rest of the country moves on, and the east and west coast boom with new industries, metro Detroit will continue it’s move to 3rd world status. Your kids deserve better. You need to put them through college and encourage them to live in a different part of the country.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      We have abundant resources and cheap labor and we do shtloads of manufacturing. Our manufacturing is growing. We could do much, much more. We hamstring ourselves with taxes and regulations which do nothing to protect any legitimate interest.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Something that I’ve never understood about human nature is: why make bad things even worse on purpose?

    If you have an abandoned home in your block, what motivates people to throw trash, spray graffiti or burn the place down?
    Is it desperation?
    Is it rebellion?
    Is it….what?

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Self-hatred

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      “what motivates people to throw trash, spray graffiti or burn the place down?”

      Feral children on purpose, homeless druggies by accident.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Most of the dumping is by people who don’t live in the direct vacinity of that particular area. Since there’s not many people around to object, dumping there is convienient. Like throwing the dead possum that fell in the pool over your fence to let Arby’s deal with.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      Broken window theory.

      Once you leave something unattended and nobody cares about it it becomes a place where you’re admitting that the system doesn’t care. So you end up with people who will treat it as such. This is why in some countries homes left empty are given to the public as either a direct form of citizen welfare or through a public works program. Right now in our current state of development we have more houses than families by a nearly double-digit margin. Because capitalism is fundamentally broken we have no way of stopping the continued excess so we build and build. Large developers don’t want the hassle of redeveloping inside cities and consistently find it cheaper to buy the old farm or forest in the exurbs than collect the value of older cities blocks.

      So you end up with poor citizens living in aging housing, a group unable to afford the housing due to landlord laws that reward capital with more ownership and then holding the market high to limit ownership that creates an endless vicious cycle. Giving people a stake in their own neighborhoods would actually create a dramatic difference in the system. Some cities are fighting to put limits on multi-house rental landlords but that’s slow going. So we have cities that face struggles because nobody wants to admit the system is to blame itself rather than some policy change, we need an overhaul in how we act and operate as a society but that means the high and mighty may need to admit some things they would rather drag to the grave with them.

      *gets off soap box* But really, it’s mainly about ownership and the lack there of.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        “Giving people a stake in their own neighborhoods”

        Looks like the locals already took their stake and did exactly what they wanted to with it.

        Sorry you weren’t able to give them anything.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m not sure how much your theory will apply to the specific circumstances of Detroit. One reason why Detroit is so empty is precisely because of high levels of home ownership. Detroit had (and the region continues to have) a very high rate of single family residence ownership. Walt Kowalksy wants the kids to stay off of *his* lawn, even if it’s the size of a postage stamp. Detroiters like having their own back yards. When condominiums started becoming a trend in real estate, the Detroit area lagged in that kind of housing.

        When you have a city of 2 million people living in a lot of single family residences and 2/3rds of them move to the suburbs, you’re left with a lot of empty homes. And yes, somewhere a rental property remains unrented and the landlord stops spending money on it, so that is part of the problem, but not the bulk of it. The homes becoming vacant lots and urban prairie on Goobing Detroit were likely to have been resident owned, not rental properties, at one time.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        You started off fine, then got lost in your own ideological spin.

        Capitalism is imperfect, not broken. Overbuilding is caused as much by bad regulation as lack of it. Large developers are large developers because that is there expertise. Here, it is common for many of them to have infill departments and do inner city projects so I have to wonder about your facts, but I will assume this is not the case in areas where you have played in real estate. I can imagine reasons why it would be that way outside of Texas.

        Your next bit is unclear, but it seems to be something about some laws rewarding owners with more ownership while holding markets high? Not sure your point, but if it’s that the rent is too damn high then I would start with ending most of the subsidy programs, regressive tax policies aimed at landlords which hit renters, and restrictions on renting rooms without any regard to actual density. Also, not sure the cycle is unending and vicious as both my adoptive patents and a former oil CEO I know who recently retired grew up part of their childhoods with dirt floors. Most of my childhood we were renters and I have done well with real estate.

        There is no point in giving renters a stake in their neighborhoods beyond incentives chosen by the owners. I’m not sure what you think that even means. We have a blighted section of town here that got blighted practically while it was still being developed. The city put in a bunch of subsidized renters and many of them stripped the homes and left. Anti semitism was suspected because many of the owners were Orthodox Jews who moved in to be around a newly built synagogue.

        The primary thing we need to fix is government interference. We need to ween the system off of subsidies. The last thing that needs to happen is giving stuff away. Ownership not earned is generally ownership not valued. People who can’t afford housing mostly just need to be told the requirements and that they can do it if the try. The amount of idiots that don’t want to help the truly needy is insignificant. The partisan divide is over how to solve the issue and the LBJ solution still is not working.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Starting to look like Angkor Wat, one of the seven wonders of the world…..

  • avatar
    50merc

    Everybody has a scarecrow to blame: Corrupt politicians. Unions. Capitalists. Racists. Criminals. Welfare moms. Anti-tax skinflints. Statists. Federal programs. Southern states that haven’t changed a bit since 1861. Globalism. Environmental zealots. Self-interested consumers.

    What we need to do is consider how things look on a microeconomic–even individual–level. That is, the perspective of a homeowner. Investor. Employer. Parent of school-age children. Person more vulnerable to and fearful of crime. Worker. Retiree.

    So what–realistically–can be done to change their perspectives for the eventual benefit of Detroit? Anything?

    If what one is doing is counter-productive, then benign neglect would be better.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      “So what–realistically–can be done to change their perspectives for the eventual benefit of Detroit? Anything?”

      Divide the land area of the city of Detroit into several smaller cities that compete with each other. Start with mostly empty land and build new local government and school districts completely separate from Detroit’s past. Let the new settlers come up with something that works better than the Detroit the new cities replace.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Broken Window Syndrome… I think you nailed it.

    Since this is a car blog, a car analogy is relevant: Whatever breaks in your car, fix it sooner than later. If one doesn’t, one becomes complacent with it, and the next thing that breaks is also ignored. It all goes downhill from there.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    There is something to the broken window theory and with the educational level of an areas citizens. Cities like Detroit need to reinvent themselves, manufacturing will not come back. The blight needs to be removed. The best money that the government could spend would be to remove most of the abandoned buildings and homes and reduce the amount of area the city is responsible for keeping up which is what the former mayor was doing. Investing in higher learning would attract high tech industry, but even then Detroit would not return to what it once was when it was at its peak. It is true that the US still manufacturers many things but much of the manufacturing has been replaced with robots which require less employees but better trained and higher skilled employees that can operate these robots. Most low skilled and labor intensive industries have gone overseas to low wage countries.

  • avatar

    Many of the remaining 700,000 residents of the city of Detroit are just not very smart.

    Henry Ford’s contribution to mass production was reducing assembly down to relatively simple tasks that could be performed by relatively unskilled labor. That made working in his factories a mind-numbing experience resulting in insanely high turnover. He had to hire over 40,000 people a year to keep 13,000 on the job at Highland Park. That was the reason for the $5/day wage. The job was crappy so he had to pay people more money to stay on the job. Since his business model was all about productivity and since that rehire rate was hurting productivity, it made economic sense to pay his employees more.

    Starting about 100 years ago, hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps a million or more, migrated to Detroit to find employment, attracted by the economic growth created by the auto industry. From Europe and also from the southern U.S. There’s the Polish enclave of Hamtramck and working class suburbs like Hazel Park that have been nicknamed “Hazeltucky”. People with all levels of abilities came here. Half of them were smart. There’s a reason why one of the few elite public universities in the world is in southeastern Michigan. The other half produced people who don’t send their kids to school on the first day of classes in September (last year about 45% of kids didn’t show up on the first day of school in Detroit).

    I guess it’s not polite to say so in public but the significance of an average IQ being 100 means that half of humanity is stupid. Henry Ford made it possible for stupid people to make a decent living working in a factory. Today, though, even factory work is technical. There are few opportunities to make a living doing unskilled or semiskilled manual labor.

    It’s been said that Detroit didn’t decline so much as it moved to the suburbs. Even with the economic issues of the past 20 years in Michigan, the population of the Detroit metropolitan area has remained fairly constant, about 4 million people, and some exurbs like Plymouth and Rochester have thrived. Even when unemployment in the state was 15% that still meant about 6 out of 7 people were working. So there has still been a fairly high level of economic activity going on in the region.

    By now, just about everyone, of every race and ethnicity, that cares about their kids and is smart enough to do something about it, has moved out of the city. We’re left with 700,000 people in the city, many of whom have little chance of being employable in the 21st century. To be sure, not every Detroit resident is stupid. There are those making a stand and at least a couple of the city’s high schools seem to be capable of producing literate graduates, Renaissance and Cass Tech. However, I question whether those schools can create the kind of critical intellectual mass a society needs to thrive.

    Detroit will only get better if smart people move into the city and I think that actually may be starting to happen.

    I’m in the city a lot, from Brightmoor to Palmer Woods. At the same time that it’s impossible to drive down streets with burned out homes and spreading urban prairie without getting an almost overwhelming sense of sadness, particularly since I’m old enough to remember when those were viable and vital neighborhoods filled with families and businesses, one also gets a sense that the city has indeed bottomed out.

    Since I’ve had my driver’s license, I’ve often used Woodward to drive downtown instead of dealing with traffic on the Lodge freeway. The traffic lights on Woodward are synchronized so during rush hour Woodward is faster than driving in the ditch. You can now see the first tendrils of growth along the Woodward corridor between Midtown and downtown. Like yeast in a petri dish, there are pockets of life that are starting to spread. Speaking bluntly, I see white people, even single white women, walking and riding bikes in areas where they’ve been rare as hens’ teeth in the past three decades.

    While the pics on Goobing Detroit are shocking, the simple truth is that you’re going to have a hard time finding commercial property with access to rail, an international maritime port, a modern international airport that’s a major hub, with a fairly skilled labor force that’s cheaper than locating in the Detroit area.

    Rich guys like Gilbert, Illitch, Hantz, Penske and less well known people like Gary Torgow’s Sterling Group, have invested hundreds of millions, maybe billions in real estate in Detroit. Their track records show that they’re likely in that half of humanity that isn’t stupid, so I’m cautiously optimistic about my hometown.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Great post Ronnie. Detroit grew there for a reason. It is a great location. It will come back.

    • 0 avatar
      AoLetsGo

      Ronnie
      One silver lining in this mess is that I think the minority families that have left the City of Detroit have a chance to not be so “stupid” as you say. These families have scattered across the suburbs and even the rest of the country. My belief is that the kids are now in better schools and have a chance to get ahead. Also both the kids and parents will better assimilate into mainstream America instead of living in an area where it is us in the City versus them in the Suburbs.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Circa 1970 the city of Detroit had a deliberate choice whether to go for an area development effort or to passively accept economic decline. It chose decline. Across the river Windsor chose area development. As far as I can see both choices may eventually turn out to have been correct. Sooner or later the city of Detroit will bottom out and start to reinvent itself. Windsor is just maintaining its population so far.

    Perhaps a true story can put things in perspective. My mother was born in a small and isolated hamlet called Texola. In 1930 it had a population of 581. It was located on the railroad about halfway between Oklahoma City and Amarillo. Route 66 had just been completed and ran down its main street. Local farming had been good.

    In 2010 its population was 36. The railroad was gone. Route 66 had long been replaced by interstate 40 which bypassed the town. Several droughts had demonstrated the land was too far west to farm without irrigation, and there was no ground water available. No amount of area development effort could have saved Texola. It will soon be a ghost town.

    No big deal. The world is full of abandoned towns. Most of these die forever. A few, like some medieval French hill towns, revive as tourist attractions.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @jimbob457
      The Bastides in Southern France. The Squares or plaza’s always have a couple of cafes and the church and are great to site down and have a beer.

      Many of them are used as a place of residence as well. Many people in the Bastides commute to a nearby town for work as well.

      My Uncle lives near the small city of Agen and the surrounding countryside is loaded with these Bastides on the hilltops.

      Many of the Bastides have expanded around the base of the hills where many also live.

      What I found interesting is this part of France is has what the French think is a low population density. But you can’t drive more than several miles without reaching another village or town.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    @Ronnie–Your comments about the decline of Detroit are repeated to a lesser extent in most of the cities in the midwest that had mainly a manufacturing base. Dayton, OH has blocks and blocks of abandoned buildings and homes. The only difference is Dayton was never as big as Detroit and when GM, Delphi, Dayco,and NCR left they at least raised their buildings, but there are weeds growing where the buildings once stood. Blocks and blocks of abandoned housing near those factories with the streets long since not maintained turning from pot holes to dirt. Around Dayton are townships like Beavercreek, Miamisburg, Kettering, and Oakwood that are well maintained and have actually maintained or grown in size. Wright Patterson Air Force base is a major employer but even they have suffered from government cutbacks. Dayton does have Sinclair College, University of Dayton, and Wright State. The health care industry and a Washington DC law firm that has a staff of legal researchers are industries that have relocated there but they don’t begin to make up for what was lost. Dayton is trying to attract more business with there access to higher education and proximity to cities such as Cincinnati and Columbus. The State of Ohio has been more aggressive in recruiting business to Ohio and there are certain places where the car manufacturing has done reasonably well like East Liberty (Honda CRV), Marysville (Honda Accord), Lordstown (Chevy Cruze), Toledo (Jeep), and a Ford truck plant. Having said that most of the manufacturing of autos is going to Mexico or the southern states. This is not anything that is new but it is just another story of decline that has been repeated over and over in the industrial cities of America.

  • avatar

    211 comments. Wow! And here goes #212:

    Declines like we see in Detroit, symptomatic fallout from the great recession, can often be compared to hangovers. They’re like hangovers from some kind of economic boom/era. The Detroit boom was not as sustainable as many would think.

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    The pictures look like my Grandmothers street in Brightmoor in NW Detroit. They moved there in the twenties and it was a solid blue collar area until the early 70′s. The housing was inexpensive and cheaply built and as more homeowners died or moved out the low-income renters moved in and rapid decline started.
    While I am very familiar with Detroit’s problems and past I do not feel qualified to pontificate about it since greater minds have already done so – not necessarily on this site.

    Downtown and Midtown will come back and some of the nicer and stronger neighborhoods will survive but these will be fortified enclaves surrounded by wilderness.

    • 0 avatar
      jimbob457

      @AoLetsGo
      I bet that longer term your ‘wilderness’ will eventually be redeveloped. What form it will take is hard to predict. As you say, some part of the old infrastructure is surviving. That is a considerable asset. Plus there is the major fact that Detroit occupies a strategic location between two Great Lakes. Together, this is huge.

      As they say in real estate, everything depends on three things: ‘location, location and location’. Over the last 30 years I have seen even once godforsaken neighborhoods like 125th and Lennox Ave and environs actually bounce back to an amazing extent presumably because of their strategic location. Given time Detroit city will do the same.

      • 0 avatar
        AoLetsGo

        Jimbob
        Maybe the City of Detroit will bounce back, but I would not put my hard earned dollars in the neighborhoods. Yes location is everything and southeast Michigan has a strategic location. The problem for Detroit – and the majority of US cities – is that many of its suburbs have lots of cheap, vacant land for development and they offer a much safer, stable environment. Your 125th and Lennox Manhattan example is what happens in an urban environment where there is demand but few cheap alternatives to build nearby.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          ” I would not put my hard earned dollars in the neighborhoods.”

          My wife and I were there in Sept 2013 to help her niece, a young White woman, move from Detroit to Zephyr Cove, NV.

          While there, my wife contacted a friend and colleague in the real estate business and we were surprised to learn that there is a contingent of real estate investors, along with their financial backers, who are ever so quietly buying up large chunks of land in the Detroit area dirt cheap for future development.

          • 0 avatar
            AoLetsGo

            Yes Cat as a one man small time investor I would not put my money in Detroit. If I was part of a contingent of investors who will some day have the power to steer the direction of their large chunks of land it could be a different story.
            Nice upgrade for your niece Detroit to Lake Tahoe, not bad.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            AoLetsGo, “Nice upgrade for your niece Detroit to Lake Tahoe, not bad.”

            Oh, yeah! She loves it. Fell into that job, face first! It appeared to be Divine Intervention.

            She was soooooo unhappy in Detroit. The place is depressing!

            We knew that something was wrong with her because we raised this girl in New Mexico after she was raped in Chicago at age 15.

            We got her an abortion at a private hospital in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and have been keeping an eye on her ever since she graduated from college in Las Cruces, NM, and moved to various jobs around the nation. You gotta go where the jobs are, right?

            I believe the new job she has at Zephyr Cove is going to be a keeper because it is on the Nevada side of the Lake and the living is easy. Unlike living on the side of bankrupt California where taxes are high and the cost of living astronomically high.

            She’s currently sharing a 4br house with three other ladies who work there but we’re hoping to buy her a house in Gardnerville, along US395, and then move all her household belongings from her parents’ place in Wyoming to Zephyr Cove.

            One step at a time, one day at a time!

  • avatar
    Zackman

    What has happened in Detroit is truly sad. What will eventually become of it is anyone’s guess, but turning portions of it into cleared land is a good thing. That reduces infrastructure by reducing road maintenance and utilities.

    Until something better comes along, Detroit doesn’t seem to have any better options.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    Crime, welfare, drugs and stupidity. Does anyone honestly think the citizens of Detroit are waiting for an economic recovery? Nope, they like it this way, and their voting record proves it. Save your money and happy thoughts for people who deserve it.

  • avatar
    Morea

    “Don’t forget the Motor City
    This was suppose to be the new world
    It was better before they voted for ‘What’s his name’
    This is suppose to be the new world”


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