house - so much to say, so little space..
the city of detroit never recovered from the double blows of the 67 riots and the big three car companies unwillingness to adapt to a changing world. there are other factors involved, of course, and i am by far no expert. the simmering standoff between the city and the suburbs (played often as black vs. white), with stupidity and recalcitrance on both sides, is the reason detroit hasn't come back to the land of the living cities. to oversimplify perhaps, and maybe raise a few hackles, the (mostly white) suburbs, with the money, would (have) contribute(d) to the rebuilding of the city if it was done "their way", and the city, with an 83% black population and one of the first black mayors in the country [coleman young, elected in 1970 and serving an unprecedented 20 years], was not eager to relinquish their control. i use the conditional past tense because the suburbs have largely established a lifestyle routine which doesn't need the city for much (other than an odd tigers/lions game - the pistons are based in the burbs now), and it feels to me like the city has been left to fend for itself. sure, there's lots of shininess going on in the heart of downtown (maybe a mile square) - gm bought the renaissance bldg and compuware moved their headquarters there a couple years ago, supposedly signaling a renaissance that just hasn't seemed to happen.
if you look outside the cluster of tall buildings from the first photos, you see a different city. and it's tough. and sad. and to me, inexcusable. those with no money have no voices and can't be heard.
from talking to people, every single person told me how tough times are in michigan today. real estate prices are plummeting and jobs are scarce. they are going through a true recession quite apart from the rest of the country. with that lack of a head start, it's not stunning to discover these relics standing.
but it is heartbreaking
i love detroit, and detroiters are some of the most straightforward, honest and down to earth people i've met (if you can characterize a region), and i've done a bit of traveling, especially around the country. it was hard for me to leave when i did, because in the small store i ran i had people, regulars, of all colors intermingling, talking, becoming friends for life. i knew that in that microcosm, the city and suburbs could 'get along', with just a little communication.
here in new york (with its fair share of problems to be sure), feels like that hard work is already a fait accompli, and especially here in queens, where each ride on the 7 is with a rainbow of beautiful strangers.