ABANDONED: a book review

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alley2Detroit City Is The Place To Be by Mark Binelli is the latest in a long series of books and magazine articles chronicling the decline of industrial cities of the American rust belt.  None seems as shocking as this new book.

Binelli summarizes the picture with one startling fact: 30 percent of Detroit is open space, some 40 square miles, two Manhattan Islands,  formerly filled with residences and businesses, compared to 47 square miles the size of all of San Francisco! Detroit had 90,000 buildings left abandoned.

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How can a citizenry allow such widespread decline to happen? Binelli treats all the factors: white flight, public education, economy, crime, declining tax base, racism, and politics and politicians.  There is enough blame to spread around.gatefront

Binelli moved back to his home town to join writers, artists and others who want to reclaim the abandoned parts of the city. Their successes are and will be minimal compared to the size of the problem.

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Binelli and his friends sneaked into the five story Packard plant, some 35 acres, abandoned in 1958 and now a plundered hulk to savor the urban ruins photographed by people from all over the world who compare it to the Acropolis as a tourist destination point! The suggestion to make Detroit a tourist attraction may have more hope than any urban renewal programs.

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The Afterlife of an American Metropolis is the subtitle of the book and assumes a need for a resurrection which will require radical new thinking about race and metropolitan government, something not expected anytime soon. There seems  little hope for the city,

To appreciate the urban ruins that make up much of present day Detroit check out these striking images on the internet.

The images used here are from my city. How far behind Detroit is Dayton? Abandoned Chevy truck plant below.

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3 Comments

  1. Are all these pictures of Dayton? They look awful. Good story about Whirlpool bringing manufacturing jobs, formerly outsourced abroad, back to Ohio, a plant in a small northern town, on NPR last week. That trend needs to continue.

  2. It isn’t just a big city problem in Michigan. Marshall pop 7000 has it share of vacant fatories etc. Our two largest employers Eatons and State farm have left and in their place is a fenced in vacant piece of ground about 5 acres worth on the West end of town (Eatons) and on the East end a vacant office building on about 3 acres of campus which now can be had for the back taxes (State Farm). Employment at its highest between these to companies was probably around 4000.

  3. Phil Powerful photos! The reality of time. Can the SM make the changes early enough so that our pictures are different? Thank you, Norb

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