Eerie abandoned streets and crumbling, derelict homes: Bleak images capture Detroit’s decline

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Motor City's was there for all to see, long before it became the largest city in US history to file for bankruptcy

Detroit’s decline was no well-guarded secret.

Once the eighth largest city in America, with close to 1.9 million residents, Detroit’s current population of 700,000 means it is now smaller than the likes of Columbus, Ohio and Forth Worth, Texas.

Click here to view more bleak images of Detroit's decline

The signs of mass departure can be seen everywhere; 70,000 homes in the city stand empty, cracked crumbling ruins that once housed happy families during Motor City’s heyday. 

The streets are seemingly abandoned – this is, of course, a city built to house close to three times its current population.

The neglect isn’t sporadic either. Great swathes of the city stand completely derelict as those that remain move closer together for convenience and safety.

Security in the neighbourhoods they leave behind is a major issue. Although in the downtown area crime in below the US average, Detroit still has the highest per capita rate of violent crime among the largest 25 cities in America.

Detroit has been named ‘America’s Most Dangerous City’ by the FBI seven years in a row, citing a devastatingly high rate of murders, violent assaults, rapes, robberies and manslaughter.

To rub yet more salt into Detroiters wounds, the symbols of the city’s once prosperous past can be seen all over.

The city was, of course, the former automotive capital of America, given the nickname Motor City thanks to its thriving vehicle manufacturing industry.

There were once 300,000 manufacturing jobs in the city. The boom began in the years immediately after World War II, and continued until the 1960s – a decade dominated by the Detroit-based Motown Records.

The decline began shortly after however, as car factories began leaving the city en-masse, causing the population collapse and a resulting massive drop in income from a decreasing tax base. A long history of financial mismanagement by the city’s authorities only added to its economic decline.

Little was done to stem the decay over the subsequent decades, meaning that now, several decades down the line, the city is in worse shape than ever.

As Michigan Governor, Rick Snyder said last night as the city filed for bankruptcy: “The fiscal realities confronting Detroit have been ignored for too long… [This is] a problem that has been six decades in the making.”

While the exact figure of how much Detroit owes its creditors is disputed - estimates have varied from $18.5bn to as much as $20bn - one thing is for certain: the city is entering uncharted territory.

Until last night, the title of America’s largest municipal bankruptcy belonged to Jefferson County in Alabama. Its debts when it filed for bankruptcy were around $4bn.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor