Friday, January 13, 2012

Detroit in Ruins or a City on the Mend?

I just read a book review  in The New York Observer by Michael H. Miller of a photo study called Detroit: 138 Square Miles, a depiction of the ruins of Old Detroit, complied by Ms. Taubman - apparently she doesn't have a first name.

This book is yet another entry in a genre of books about Detroit called "ruin porn," which shows the Motor City at its post-apocalyptic worse. What makes her book different than the rest, says Miller, is that many of her photographs demonstrate "for better or worse, there is life among those ruins."

Anyone who has traveled to Detroit and driven outside the commercial enclave of business buildings, sport complexes, and gambling casinos downtown can see that the city and many of its people are hurting. Vast blocks of cleared land look like urban prairies, punctuated by burned out ruins too numerous and expensive to demolish.

Many of these neighborhoods have occasional signs of life in homes that have long since expired their reasonable lifespans - peopled by stubborn residents who anchor themselves in their old neighborhoods because they have no where else to go.

There is a brief glimmer of hope in the gentrification of the ruins of this city - some young, educated, and optimistic people seem willing to take a chance on Detroit - a city that almost everyone believes has seen its best days.

Detroit is ripe to reinvent itself. But first it must come to grips with its rough and tumble past and restore law, order, and opportunity to its inner city residents.