Detroit is a forgotten city. While it was victim to the urban decay and abandoned structures that I’d read about, it didn’t seem all that worse than what the rest of this country looks like these days with the shuttered storefronts and high unemployment. But it’s visible that it’s a little more desperate in Detroit. Hardly anyone occupied the streets during my visit, save for a few locals and the homeless. For every shiny new structure like Ford Field or Comerica Park, there were three or four houses with collapsed porches and boarded up windows within walking distance.
The city’s various architecture gives off an air of wasted elegance, hearkening back to the city’s golden age as a bastion of the midwest, before the rapid ascent of crime and automakers requesting government bailouts. The International Riverfront is totally worth seeing from Detroit and neighboring Windsor, Ontario. I had a short chat with some locals on the Detroit side that were very proud of their city. They explained that the downtown had plenty to offer (and it did, in sections) and told us that “it’s not as bad as they say it is”. Then they warned us to stay out of the outlying neighborhoods. Truth on both sides of that statement.
There’s something beautiful about a three-hundred year old city trying to rise above decades of neglect. Art installations are in some storefronts. Once abandoned neighborhoods are gentrifying and home to new restaurants and shops. There’s also The Heidelberg Project, which takes abandoned houses and turns them into art projects. The heartbeat is faint, but it’s growing stronger block by block.
As the United States recovers from its’ financial problems, hopefully this city will follow suit. They’re definitely trying. I’ve chosen these pictures to represent the city that I saw, underneath the veil of those false representations of what I’d really only heard. So many people want to cling to the city’s past. It’s important to see Detroit for it’s possibility.