The rise and fall of Detroit: Was Henry Ford to blame?
Even in 1827, when the founding fathers of Detroit fumbled for a city motto, they knew it was destined to struggle.
They settled on Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus (We hope for better days; it shall rise from the ashes). Those who love Motor Town read those words now and sigh. They’ve been waiting for better for far too long.
It’s not all despair, even now. In its distress, Detroit has become home to a growing subculture of young artists, musicians, designers and digital innovators who thrive amid its post-collapse landscape and, of course, its low rents. Something similar happened to New Orleans after Katrina. Visit Slows BBQ on Michigan Avenue to see that the news of downtown’s final demise has been exaggerated.
There are scores of Detroits in America’s heartland – cities crippled by white flight to the suburbs where crime is low and schools still function. Left behind are the poor, who are overwhelmingly black. “Unless we can get the whites interested again, nothing will get better,” a black restaurant owner told me recently in the ruins of his Arkansas town.
Maybe Henry Ford is to blame. His Ford Motor Company had been in Detroit only a few years before he moved his whole operation to the suburbs in 1910. But the Detroit exodus really took off after the summer of 1967. Any Detroiter knows the significance of that year, when 43 people died in the Twelfth Street Riot. For many it was the last straw. The troops were sent in. More than 7,200 people were arrested. Some 2,000 buildings were destroyed.
As the population fell so did the tax receipts vital for city services.
In the 1950s, when the car industry was still thriving, 1.85 million people called Detroit home. It was the fourth most populous city in America.
Less than 720,000 live there now, a drop even since 2000 of 20 per cent. The city’s fortunes have always been tied to the car companies, and it is only five years since they were contemplating total oblivion.
New York almost went bust in 1976. It begged for federal cash and Gerald Ford said drop dead. Yet the Big Apple survives. Believers in Detroit insist that this bankruptcy, although humiliating, is exactly what is needed. It can be a forbidding town, to be sure. But may it yet find better days and rise from the ashes.
sportLiverpool 5 Norwich City 1: Uruguayan striker has now scored 11 league goals against the club
arts + entsOlivier-nominated actor and singer is set to star in Lloyd Webber's musical about the Profumo affair
filmWith more than 70 per cent of early films lost, archivists are scouring the world to preserve the precious examples that remain
sportUnder-10s football coach sacked for telling parents he was 'only interested in winning'
techA piece of new hi-tech kit aims to get us scribbling again
life + styleClarissa Baldwin is the brains behind the slogan 'A Dog is for Life not just for Christmas'
Autumn Statement 2013: Work until you’re 70 - George Osborne accused of ‘living in fantasy land’ over pension reforms
Nigella Lawson: What made Charles Saatchi grab my throat - as she accuses him of threatening to 'destroy' her with drug claims
Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
‘Put it in my mouth’: Viewers outraged by apparent reference to oral sex in VIP e-cig advert
Paul Walker death: Eight-year-old son of Porsche driver Roger Rodas tried to rescue his father
- 1 The hardwired difference between male and female brains could explain why men are 'better at map reading'
- 2 Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
- 3 A forgotten episode in Russian history leaves links with the Philippines
- 4 Hate With Friends: Now you can find out who your Facebook frenemies are
- 5 ‘Put it in my mouth’: Viewers outraged by apparent reference to oral sex in VIP e-cig advert
£50000 per annum: Morgan Hunt: Whilst the Real Estate sector was suffering thi...
£41000 - £46000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Newly Qualified ...
£21000 - £24000 per annum: Morgan Hunt: Morgan Hunt are working in partnership...
£34999 - £45001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: A Top 10 Firm in ...