Detroit, A city not to be understood

Last week, the mayor of Detroit, America’s 18th largest city and the home of the flagship of Main Street America, the US auto industry, filed for bankruptcy with debts hitting $18-20bn.  On the same week, the behemoths of Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan etc announced profits nearly back to their pre-crisis levels.

A few days ago I looked at may beautiful photographs of the spook-town, which looked worse than the spook towns I encountered a few years ago in Sicily.

I let my head turn round thousands of time, imagining the opportunity of certain groups finding a heaven on earth, making it possible for them, and also for me, to crate there a new community. I saw a beautiful house for only 15.000 American dollars.

Detroit, the proud of the American nation, once the most flourishing and promising city, pulling eyes from as far as Europe. Detroit was once a symbol of America’s postwar might, the seat of industry, the heart and soul of organized labour.

The venerable high-rise hotels — once symbols of Detroit’s glamorous history as the nation’s hub of innovation and productivity, now pillaged hulks — have drawn millions of dollars in investment to the city’s center.

What went wrong?

Greed, proud, megalomaniac projects and spending others money like nothing to  lose is according to me one of the possibilities, plus mismanagement, neglect, and, according to the emergency manager, corruption.

Some blame the benefits, but they do not want to see the benefits would not have killed any city in case they where administered rightly and people did not make misuse of them.

The opponents of benefits mistakenly say that Detroit was the place where the whole concept of health care benefits to employees was created.

During World War II there were wage and price controls.  Companies therefore needed ways to attract really qualified employees and since they couldn’t pay them any more money, they had to come up with something that wasn’t controlled, and that would have been something they had to invent.

So they invented the benefit.  In this case, the health insurance benefit.  And it’s one of the things that ends up doing Detroit in.  That and unions, that and the pensions.  Detroit is a city, I think the last Republican mayor in Detroit was 1957.  Detroit has been run unchecked by liberal Democrats for 40-plus, 50 years.  It’s bankrupt.  But there are some facts about the fall of Detroit that will just stun and amaze you.  Every one of these facts comes from a news story about the subject, every one of these 25.  I’m gonna take a time-out here and we’ll come back and I’ll run through this list.  And I will review some of the statistics about Detroit’s greatness in years gone by. {Rush Limbaugh}

Blaming benefits and pensions is forgetting that in case you want to create a pension fund you have to use the money into that fund properly and invest it so that it can bring enough money to pay out the retired people where it is to be for. Saying now that Detroit’s $18 billion in debt is due primarily to its pension obligations, which comprise about $8 billion of its total shortfall is not recognising that the ones in charge of that pension fund did not do their work properly.  The second factor is the money that the city owes to bond holders, which was borrowed through the years to cover urban projects and other obligations. But their it is overlooked that the city like to play Sancta Claus not having the appropriate means. It looks like the socialist did in the sixties and seventies in Belgium, presenting Belgium with a huge debt and causing the country to have big problems in the 1980ies until now. Unpaid taxes, disappearing jobs, empty factories have all played a role, too.

“And Detroit is only the opening act even if its problems are unique to a city in secular decline and dilapidation (35 per cent of its residents are on food stamps, the population is down some 2/3 since the city’s peak as an industrial powerhouse in 1960,” said chief economist David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff + Associates.

“Chicago is the next culprit, underlined by its huge credit rating downgrade last week. Not to mention various municipalities in California.”

Scarred by decades of political corruption and neglect, Detroit has begun what many people believe is a painful yet necessary transition.

I do find it a pity not more people, when the auto-mobile industry left town, did not take the effort to change route in the city itself. By leaving the city, they gave way to let everything become worse. By going to look for other pastures they left Detroit’s budget problems to grow for the worse, because they are tied to the city’s declining population. Reaching a peak of 1.85 million people in the 1950 Census, white and now middle-class black flight has caused a loss of more than 60 percent of its population. The population fell to 713,000 in 2010 and is believed to be less than 700,000. As people left, property assessments were increased to make up for revenue losses. Many services were gutted, which made Detroit less safe and less desirable.

Though Detroit might have been the Motor City one of every four households in the city limits does not have access to an automobile. Public transit is lacking, which leaves the city’s poorest residents land-locked. Many residents struggle just to find rides to supermarkets.

The illiteracy did not help to get people at work in other fields than hand-labour. The city’s once-reputable school system plunged far below mediocrity.

“It’s been going on for 50 years,” said Sheila Cockrel, 65, a lifelong Detroiter and a Wayne State University professor who spent 16 years on Detroit City Council. “It’s the can that’s been kicked down the road by various mayors and city councils.”

Detroit has regained the first place on the news screen again, but this time with continuous bad news and violence. Some even say it has become again America’s most violent city.

People are not only robbed of their income by thieves, also the taxes are some of the highest in the United States.

When you go around in the town or when you look at the many pictures taken in this drowning city you cannot ignore the many signs of misery — hundreds if not thousands of burned out, abandoned, and boarded-up homes and buildings. some pictures give the impression that we are looking at a war zone or that there has passed a hurricane.

Having to face a to big burden and avoiding to drown more into the swamp we can understand many people who had the the ability to flee did so long ago, leaving some neighbourhoods so barren the city has turned off traffic lights and street lights to save money.
Locals complain there are so few police officers to canvass the city’s vast 139 square miles that waiting time for 911 calls are 30 minutes or longer.

Today, not only is nearly half of Detroit’s 138 square mile area vacant, beautiful architecture is left with no hope of use. There is simply not enough demand to sustain the amount and character of architecture. The city is a case study for methods of dealing with shrinking cities. As famous American boomtowns once existed, their counterparts exist today; cities such as Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh have all lost around 50% of their population over the past 50 years. The commonality that exists is the industrial based economy, the variable being the social adaptation to industrial decline. Detroit has fared worst in terms of this variable, and the photos here of illustrate that.

Abandoned City of Detroit

Detroit Urban Meadow

Michigan Central Station

Residents seem to have less faith in city government and more in fearless entrepreneurs who have persuaded them that they have embraced the city’s iconic soul.

Many Detroiters believe the city’s future lies not so much in a state-appointed financial manager as in venture capitalists with undying loyalty to Detroit, such as Quicken Loans founder and chairman Dan Gilbert.

I also do think the city only can be saved by residents believing again in their city and giving their soul to make something again from their city.

For certain groups, religious organisations, sects, communions, there is also a fair amount of space to make their dreams come true and to build up their own community. If I would have been American, I would have gone straight ahead to Detroit and bought some houses for creating a home for like minded Christians, willing to share their love with all sorts of people, indigenous, black and white, Christians, other religious people, atheists, to build up a ‘new world’.

Here the American soul can find again the bare grounds their ancestors found. A place to start anew, but this time the fields have been prepared by others … the constructions to start are already there.

With 100.000 U.S.Dollar, where in an other place could be done not much, there in Detroit a lot could be done. In case of those people living there taking up the courage not to think in the real American dollar value, but more in the value of time and activity what they can do for each other, the city has the plausible opportunity to saw seeds for some new grains coming up and bringing shrubs to bring forth some fruits to make future preserves.

100 Abandoned Houses is the name of the latest project of photographer Kevin Bauman. Photographing abandonment in Detroit since the mid 90’s, Bauman always found it “amazing, depressing, and perplexing that a once great city could find itself in such great distress, all the while surrounded by such affluence”.

He shows many houses which I would not mind having to live in or buildings having to bring entertainment to the population.

Also other photographers can present me with nice houses, which are not finding a new owner.

Detroit has one of the largest collections of theatres in the U.S. outside of New York. This is one still looking good

A Downtown Detroit Movie Palace falls apart.


Positive news:

Most of the city looks abandoned and broken down. But companies such as Quicken Loan, the mortgage originator, have moved into these cheaper areas and are buying up property by the street. Chrysler recently opened its first new Detroit-based corporate office in decades. Whole Foods, the upmarket food chain, has also opened its first outlet in Motown. And in September the city will break ground on its first urban tramline since the 1930s.Meanwhile back in Wall Street, all is bright and light.  Pre-crisis levels of profits are back.  The major banks made a combined $17.6bn in second-quarter net income, the best since the same period six years ago.

> Detroit: motors, money and the municipality


Please do find:

  1. By the rivers of Babylon: Glory days gone, Detroit faces legal ‘war’
  2. Entrepreneurs try to recapture Detroit’s glory Public sector failures prompt private citizens to take a chance
  3. Abandoned City of Detroit Zfein com photography od Detroit
  4. Detroit’s Abandoned Houses
  5. Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre ruins of Detroit
  6. Detroit: A decaying, murderous, abandoned city
  7. The Ruins of the Metroplex – Part 1
  8. Director Julien Temple charted Detroit’s demise in film Requiem for Detroit, a BBC programme made by Julien Temple in 2010, charted the Detroit’s demise.
Woodward Avenue

Woodward Avenue – by Marchand Meffre


  • Chrysler Sticks With ‘Imported From Detroit’ Despite City’s Bankruptcy (
    Once upon a time, the city of Detroit was a teeming metropolis of 1.8 million people and it had the highest per capita income in the United States.  Now it is a rotting, decaying hellhole of about 700,000 people that the rest of the world makes jokes about.  On Thursday, we learned that the decision had been made for the city of Detroit to formally file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy.  It was going to be the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of the United States by far, but on Friday it was stopped at least temporarily by an Ingham County judge.
  • Detroit’s Demise, a bigger problem than you think (
    I’ve read countless of articles on the reasons why Detroit has fallen into the gutter, and so far, all I know is that some of the “best” minds looking at this problem, to put it in simple terms, continue to scratch their heads. They don’t know why.No one understands the Real reasons why Detroit is where it is.
    +I lived in Windsor, Ontario for 5 years and would visit Detroit on a fairly regular basis. I like the city. To me, the stereotypes are wrong. I’ve personally not encountered problems their and found the people to be very accommodating and nice. It’s difficult reading all the news about this bankruptcy.
  • Detroit as metaphor (
    Liberalism is not oppressive as much as it is depressive, and there is no better example of this than Detroit. With its 48 unions and nearly $20 billion in debt — an entire third of which is unfunded healthcare liabilities for city retirees — Detroit saw its peak population of nearly 2,000,000 in 1950 dwindle to about 700,000 today. Of those 700,000, a third live under the poverty level and a fifth are unemployed.
  • What Liberalism Has Done To Detroit (
    Back in 1960, the city of Detroit actually had the highest per-capita income in the entire nation. And then 60 of the population left … Today less than half of the residents of Detroit over the age of 16 are working at this point.
  • How Democrats and Unions Destroyed Detroit (
    To the first African-American mayor of a major U.S. city, equating the police with criminals was a way of telling his overwhelmingly black constituency that he understood their concerns about police brutality and civil rights.
  • Unchecked Liberalism Killed Detroit (
    Detroit, Michigan, was at one time one of the great cities in the world.  It was among the richest and most successful cities in this country.  It was the envy of the world, primarily because the assembly line to mass produce automobiles was invented there, and the automobile industry’s home was Detroit.  Motown, Berry Gordy. It was the envy of the world, and now it’s the biggest city in the United States to ever go bankrupt.  And why?  Two things, that are actually under the same umbrella:  unions and unchecked liberalism have led to the bankruptcy of Detroit.
    Sixty years ago, Detroit had the highest per capita income in the entire nation.  Sixty years ago, more people earned more money in Detroit than anywhere else. Sixty years ago, Detroit was the fourth largest city in America.  In the last 60 years, Detroit has lost 63% of its population.  Now, I’ll give you some fascinating facts, compiled here by the Economic Collapse blog.  Every one of these facts is the result of a news story.
  • Detroit City Comeback May Be Harder Than for Big 3 (
    Automakers were able to shed most of their problems in bankruptcy court and come out leaner and more competitive. The city can get rid of its gargantuan debt, but a bankruptcy judge can’t bring back residents or raise its dwindling revenue.
    Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is sympathetic but says the city is in dire straits.”We really want to empathize with their situation,” he said. “A lot of people worked hard for the city for a lot of years. They’re on a fixed income. We all need to appreciate that can be a difficult situation. This is a very difficult situation overall, though.”Snyder wouldn’t say if pension or health benefits would be cut, but he said the city has to deal with its unfunded pension liabilities. The pensions have “somewhere north of 50 percent” of the assets needed to pay all benefits, he said.The state, Miller said, will likely have to come up with cash to help Detroit through the bankruptcy until its tax base grows, just like the federal government helped GM and Chrysler. But Snyder said that shouldn’t be expected.Any savings from cutting pensions could be used to provide better services, said John Pottow, a University of Michigan professor specializing in bankruptcy and corporate law. “It’s also going to help people who want to have the police show up or their garbage collected.”
  • Detroit bankruptcy. The war between pensioners and banks begins (
    Will the pensioners come before the bondholders in the Detroit bankruptcy? Right now, the plan is for bondholders to get 75% and pensioners to be kicked to the curb and get 10-20%. However, a judge has halted the bankruptcy saying the Michigan Constitution blocks pensions from being reduced. In addition, it sure looks like banksters and other vultures want to privatize and loot whatever can. Make no mistake, this is a multi-level war that will be fought for years to come

About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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5 Responses to Detroit, A city not to be understood

  1. marcusampe says:

    There exist already a newspaper article with the title: “What Can Be Done About Detroit’s Abandoned Buildings? ” Ann Arbor Sun, March 25, 1976.
    When there were already signs then that the city was deteriorating why did not much more happen to call it a halt?


  2. xymalf says:

    Reblogged this on xymalf.


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