David Thompson
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August 05, 2009

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dw

Er... wow. What the hell happened to number 4?

Ross

I saw some of those kinds of photos here a while ago- a modern city being reclaimed for the wilderness.

Detroit really is a textbook example of how not to run a city- depend on a single industry, capitulate to the unions, allow race relations to become utterly poisonous, elect obvious idiots to run it- and then act surprised when the city is so terrible that not a single large supermarket is willing to operate there.

TimT

I kind of want to live in those houses. All of them.

Spiny Norman

Beautiful and melancholy. I want to see what's inside them (other than the ubiquitous grafitti, that is).

The fifth house down at the link looks like it was once a very lovely, upper-middle-class home. I have to wonder what it was like when it was fresh and new. I wonder that about all them, actually.

Spiny Norman

What an intriguing website you've found there, David.

Another facinating post on a similar theme is the abandoned Belle Isle Zoo:

http://www.sweet-juniper.com/2009/07/return-to-abandoned-zoo.html

wayne fontes

I live outside of Detroit. It's difficult to describe the the metro area to some one who's never been here. The actual city only contains about 20% of the population and is probably worse than what you here. What rings it is an array of suburbs 80% of which have been built within the last 2 generations. Think of Long Island wrapped around Harlem. But Harlem never got this bad.

The North Briton

TimT,

Well, they're going really cheap, have you seen current real estate prices in Detroit?

gary t

is that something to be proud of wayne? I've visited the detroit area a number of times. in most metro areas, the people of the surrounding suburbs retain a healthy understanding of what a "city" is. in Detroit, there are some members of those 3rd-4th generation suburbanites who've NEVER been inside the Detroit city limits. there is a much larger population who only enters detroit to watch sports. they exist entirely on the city's fringe in, as you suggest, suburban environments that resemble nearly every other suburban environment across the states. racism combines with the guilt of their forebears' own culpability and the blame for what happened to the city of Detroit is placed on those who stayed in Detroit rather than those who abandoned it.

these buildings don't look like this because of the auto industry's failures. they look like this because white people didn't want black people moving into their neighborhoods, so they ALL moved to where they thought blacks couldn't follow them. And they took the tax base with them to those suburbs which, despite being "normal" appear far uglier to my eye than the desperate looking places in these photographs.

Mack

Hey gary T: I live in one of those suburbs, and have for most of my 39 years... The racism crap, that sounds like those talking points the Detroit City Council reads off to cover up their latest scandal. People moved away to find a safer neighborhood - black, white, yellow, or green - it didn't matter. Thats why my parents moved us out of the city in 1976. If Detroit wasn't such a corrupt, nearly-lawless wasteland then more people might be willing to live there again. I actually tried about 10 years ago, to live downtown. Lived right near the new stadiums, supposed to be the safest/nicest area of the city. Mostly it was fine, but I got tired of my car getting trashed by the streets that were never fixed, and 3 busted-in windows, and 2 slashed tires, and a half dozen random bums urinating on it - all in an 18 month span. So, I left.

Nowadays? A lady I work with talks about the young 20-somethings who hang out on her street night and day... BBQ-ing in the street until 3am... shooting small animals for fun... dealing drugs... less than a half mile from a Police Station. She would be gone tomorrow if she could get out from under her house, and find some place affordable. She already sent her kids to live with grandma in the suburbs, to get a better education, and to hopefully avoid getting shot. This wasn't a bad neighborhood 15 years ago when she moved in... but nobody is taking care of anything in that city anymore.

Thats the reality of Detroit. White people don't make the black people who rule the city shoot each other, or neglect their city - thats on us alone. And nothing sinister keeps black people out of the suburban neighborhoods - except maybe their own prejudices. My experience is, if you're a regular law-abiding non-a-hole person, your neighbors don't care what you look like. I realize that doesn't play well with the victimhood mantle you want to put on black people, but hey - tough crap. I'm sick of people blaming Detroit's downfall on "race"... how about we talk about a total lack of responsibility, and corruption at every level of government first.

gary t

Detroit didn't turn into the "corrupt, nearly-lawless wasteland" as you see it over night. It took decades of people (like your parents) abandoning it to get it there. I'm not saying everyone's motives were racist (often the sheeple mentality prevailed) but the problems in detroit started when black people were first legally allowed to move into white neighborhoods (if you think the '67 riot was bad, look into the detroit race riots of the 1940s). if people would have had more heart (and perhaps, less means) some might have stayed and the city's tax base wouldn't have been destroyed. You try running a city where half the population is gone and the tax base is eviscerated. I don't believe the black population of detroit are all victims (many of them are total assholes) but I do believe the city itself has been victimized by the callous disregard of white suburbanites who have no idea what it even means to live in a city anymore.

sorry your car got pissed on downtown. that shit happens IN EVERY GODDAMN CITY. ever been to NYC? Chicago? The whole city of San Francisco has been pissed on by bums. Even where I live (London) smells like piss. that's city life. you Detroit suburbanites think you are entitled to a free parking spot right in front of wherever it is you want to go without ever having to deal with people different from you. enjoy your suburb, mack.

JuliaM

'people different from you' = people who piss on other people's property and/or cars

Glad we cleared that one up. And thank god they ARE different!

JuliaM

"...if people would have had more heart (and perhaps, less means) some might have stayed and the city's tax base wouldn't have been destroyed..."

You think it'd be a GOOD thing if people couldn't afford to move out of an area rapidly being overtaken by lawless thugs, so the area would be more 'mixed'?

Wow! People's lives are just pieces on a chessboard to you, aren't they?

wayne fontes

Spare me the guilt trip Gary T. The black middle class moved out of Detroit a generation ago. The lack of a tax base has little to do with a school system that only turns out 25% of it's students who are literate. try googleing Robert Bobb+DPS. You'll see the problem isn't funding, it's theft and mismanagement.

Detroit's geography contributed to it's downfall. It was a developed city surrounded by green fields. New suburbs could be built within easy commuting distance of the central city. I don't think that situation exists in many places.

Gary, do you have any idea how dangerous the idea of going in to the city of Detroit is? Next time you visit why don't you take a stroll through some of the neighborhoods.

Hazy Dave

My wife grew up in Detroit, but even without any personal connection, this is a rather fascinating blog, in my humble opinion:

http://www.detroitblog.org/

gary t

it's sad that some of the people most ignorant about the situation in Detroit are those closest to that city.

wayne fontes

it's sad that some of the people most ignorant about the situation in Detroit are those closest to that city. --GaryT

It's disheartening to see some one drop into a thread, make some unfounded assertions, not backed by a single fact and then try to seize the moral high ground. The average Detroiter doesn't feel guilt for having left the city it's more of a wistful sense of regret. We are talking about a city where a parent can't put his kids in the car and drive them to his old neighborhood to show them where he grew up because it's physically not safe!

Admire the Detroit city council in action.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWivww3-Yfw

gary t

"We are talking about a city where a parent can't put his kids in the car and drive them to his old neighborhood to show them where he grew up because it's physically not safe!"

this is the ignorance I'm talking about. what does "not physically safe" even mean? I have spent months walking around all kinds of neighborhoods in Detroit making a documentary film about the relationship between Detroit and its suburbs. Most neighborhoods are more empty than anything else. Most people in Detroit are shockingly friendly. Poor, yes. Black, yes. But I was never threatened or harmed in any Detroit neighborhood, no matter how poor it seemed. I doubt you deserve to call yourself "a Detroiter." You're a suburbanite who drives into "the old neighborhood" and feels unsafe because there are black people around.

I'm sure it's perfectly safe for you to bring your kids into Detroit. when they ask why things look so bad, be sure to include in your explanation the main reason: your people up and left.

Ross

"You're a suburbanite who drives into "the old neighborhood" and feels unsafe because there are black people around. "

What a load of twaddle, Detroit isn't seen as dangerous because of white people's racism but because it is objectively an extremely dangerous place with a murder rate of around 50 per 100000 (about 25 times that of the UK by way of comparison). Perhaps those people just decided to die violently because "there are black people around".

gary t

yeah, dead white guys who dare to drive into detroit to show their children granny's old duplex are really piling up at the morgue.

detroiters kill detroiters over drugs and personal beefs. the idea that detroit is dangerous for some accountant from farmington hills just rolling through the old neighborhood in his SUV is the load of twaddle.

wayne fontes

By physically unsafe I mean my family has had two cars stolen while in Detroit. The towing company would only retrieve one of them after dawn and we were charged for sending two tow trucks in case one of them broke down. I have personally been told "crackers aren't welcome here" had a rock thrown at my car and twice been stopped by the police with offers to escort me out of the neighborhood.

If you don't like personal stories Detroit has the highest murder rate in the country and it just came out that the police department was intentionally under counting murders.

I don't know what your experience was or what neighborhoods you were in but I've lived in NYC been to a number of other cities and been lost in poor sections of cities in Mexico. The only place I've been intimidated was in Detroit.

KRW

garyt,

I know a number of people from Detroit. They're all down here in FL. Same stupid lefty mind-set. Of course down here, I've never had my car pissed on.

"IN EVERY GODDAMN CITY. ever been to NYC? Chicago? The whole city of San Francisco has been pissed on by bums."

Well isn't that your problem right there? Think of what mind set predominates in those cities. As for my lefty ex-Detroiters, they have all of the "guilt of their forebears' own culpability", but did they stay there to fix the problems? No. Up and left because their common sense overrode their guilt. Took their tax base with them. Now they're down here to infest the rest of us with their cancer mentality. You people in 'Troit can do both of our cities a favor by fixing what YOU broke so these losers can go home and improve the quality of life in both of our cities.

JuliaM

"this is the ignorance I'm talking about. what does "not physically safe" even mean? I have spent months walking around all kinds of neighborhoods in Detroit making a documentary film about the relationship between Detroit and its suburbs. Most neighborhoods are more empty than anything else. Most people in Detroit are shockingly friendly. Poor, yes. Black, yes. But I was never threatened or harmed in any Detroit neighborhood, no matter how poor it seemed."

I wondered what this mindset reminded me of, when I first read it. It seemed ....familiar...somehow.

Then it came to me:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLidFrcp5Eo

bobby b

"racism combines with the guilt of their forebears' own culpability and the blame for what happened to the city of Detroit is placed on those who stayed in Detroit rather than those who abandoned it."
- - - -
Oh, what drivel.

First, people don't "abandon" a huge city. They simply move away. For you to characterize them as having abandoned Detroit, for you to claim that they moved to escape blacks, is simply your pathetic attempt to evade the truth: that many many people who had jobs and education and training and ambition finally tired of having to listen politely to thieves such as you who demanded - demanded! - that they give more and more and more of their money and their time and their safety to you, immediately and on your terms, so that you could make the world better for . . .. well, not them . . . but for jobless-forever people, druggies, drunks, criminals - all of whom you insisted the working people acknowledge daily as their moral superiors, because they had nothing, aspired to nothing, accomplished nothing, and contributed nothing.

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