I read a lot about Detroit suffering from the economic breakdown and loosing a million of people in the recent 30 years. I did imagine that this might have significant impact on a city but I could not imagine how bad it really was. So I took a chance bring my camera along when I traveled to Detroit couple of weeks ago…
Walking around the city – especially outside the central downtown area – is quite a striking experience. Not only is it obvious that the city is physically empty. But the contrast of still occupied family houses next to half way torn down or even burned out ruins or vast areas of deserted real estate are terrifying. If a place is left behind no one bothers to tear the buildings down or clean the territory up. There is just too much other space available to bother. Interesting enough – sometimes you move 3 blocks down the road, you leave the sad areas behind and find a family houses neighborhood with perfectly gardened yards – the US flag in front of the door. A couple of block further down the road some of the largest villas you can imagine, lake view, gardens as large as a baseball field. Big fences with cameras. This is the point where you ask yourself what prevents the poor people of caring their frustration down the street where the rich folks live? But with all this sadness around the longer you see the more it becomes evident how much potential this city has these days. Imagine you have to worry neither about space, nore about restrictions. As the capital moves out artists and individualists move in. Lofts, houses, and empty industry complexes provide ground to do arts, music and create something new that would be impossible in other cities. People start gardening on abandoned land, start restaurants and bars in most unlikely areas – such as Phil Cooley who dropped his fashion career to come back to Detroit and start Slows BBQ restaurant right next to abandoned Michigan central train depot – a tremendous success story. So the way you can look at this is that Detroit right now is the city with the most potential, or as Carl Craig says: “It is a blank canvas”… See the picture story in the latest Bailgun 12.
More stuff here:
>> An article about a picture book about Detroit’s ruins from Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre you find here.
>> See the Detroit documentary with Johnny Noxville here: