Detroit - A Surreal Wasteland
I can attest to the accuracy of AntiHero's description of Detroit. I've worked in Detroit for about twenty of the last twenty five years. During this time I've lived in an area known as "Downriver", which is collection of decidedly blue-collar suburbs located between ten and twenty miles south of Detroit.
I've spent more than a few weekends this summer astride my trusty KLR250, exploring the desolate, poverty-blasted ruins of this once great city. The decline of Detroit over just the last five or six years is absolutely staggering. It literally has to be seen to be believed. The population has probably fallen by 250,000 over that same period of time.
A few weeks ago I explored a Detroit neighborhood known as Delray. It's in an isolated part of the city that hugs the Detroit River, about 3-4 miles southwest of downtown Detroit proper. The neighborhood is about two square miles in size, and it's home to only about 2000 residents, most of whom are Hispanic or black. In the 1930's this neighborhood was home to 35,000 people of Eastern European descent, and it teemed with shops that supported the local steel and automobile industries. Today it's an absolute wasteland. Trees grow through the ruins of the abandoned homes and small factories. Entire blocks resemble savanna lands interspersed with crumbling brick ruins. Many residential blocks have only one or two occupied homes on them.
The only people living in this neighborhood are people who don't have the financial means to escape. Unemployment is probably approaching 30-40%. On a beautiful, warm evening I rode slowly up one residential block and down the next, seeing only scattered knots of young men and boys standing in yards or sitting on stoops. One elderly black man leaned on a hoe in his garden, which comprised two or three adjacent lots. This is common in Detroit neighborhoods where abandoned houses have been demolished and the lots cleared. Since nobody owns the land, people often claim it for neighborhood gardens. It's strange to see rows of corn juxtaposed alongside the blackened remains of burned out crack houses.
As I turned up one street a pretty young prostitue smiled wanly at me from the steps of a porch as I passed. There wasn't another soul in sight, and I remember thinking that she was probably in for a slow night. In the 30 minutes I spent exploring the neighborhood, I think I saw a total of two cars that were actually being driven.
Detroit is probably one of the best examples of post-collapse urban decay in America today. Exploring some of her neighborhoods is an almost surreal experience - one that gives a firsthand glimpse into the decline of a civilization.
HandKPhil screwed with this post 09-03-2012 at 06:57 PM