Thursday, August 6, 2009

Doomed city

I remember when Detroit was one of the places working people went to make it. Black folks from all over the South, hillbillies from Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, all went up to Dee-troit to find prosperity. If you could catch on at a plant your fortune was made, or at least you could lodge comfortable in the middle class, which is harder and harder for working-class people to do these days. All the auto prosperity's gone long since, and the city has been in a death spiral for forty years. A guy does a blog called Sweet Juniper that has some fascinating pix and interesting writing:
I've seen "feral" used to describe dogs, cats, even goats. But I have wondered if it couldn't also be used to describe certain houses in Detroit. Abandoned houses are really no big deal here. Some estimate that there are as many as 10,000 abandoned structures at any given time, and that seems conservative. But for a few beautiful months during the summer, some of these houses become "feral" in every sense: they disappear behind ivy or the untended shrubs and trees planted generations ago to decorate their yards. The wood that framed the rooms gets crushed by trees rooted still in the earth. The burnt lime, sand, gravel, and plaster slowly erode into dust, encouraged by ivy spreading tentacles in its endless search for more sunlight.

Here's the link to the blog. Go all the way to the bottom. The abandoned zoo is haunting and the empty schools are heartbreaking.
And then further on Detroit:
But the food crunch is intensifying, and spreading to people not used to dealing with hunger. As middle class workers lose their jobs, the same folks that used to donate to soup kitchens and pantries have become their fastest growing set of recipients
That's from a CNN money story, and you can read all of it here.
Detroit was a big union town, so the paper had a very good contract … high wages, good conditions. Friend of mine went up there from Chicago and worked a while. When he came back someone asked him how the cost of living was in Detroit. "Cost of living's same as it is everywhere," he said. "Every damn penny you make."

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