We spent today exploring the city of Detroit and saw the Saturday Eastern Market and surrounds, the remains of Michigan Central Station, the 8-Mile area of Warren, Michigan, where Eminem’s 8 Mile movie was shot, and lots of examples of urban decay. I was startled when we visited Christchurch, New Zealand, last December to see theaters and buildings completely blown out and hollow from the earthquake devastations the city suffered, but the ruins and decay of Detroit bring about a completely different sullen feeling. It’s a city that once had its heyday, and is now suffering to survive with blocks and blocks of abandoned apartments and storefronts. There were some blocks we visited where there was just weed growth galore where buildings used to stand, and the growth had gotten so bad that it had overtaken the sidewalks; the sidewalks were not even visible anymore. I’ve never seen so many abandoned, massively graffitied buildings with their windows blown out and skeletons struggling to stand.
I have no idea what it would be like to grow up in a city like Detroit, but I’d imagine that overall morale would be low. There’s an invisible line that seems to separate the city – one side seems to be slowly rebuilding with fancy hotels like the Westin and Michael Symon’s Roast restaurant opening. The other side of that line is all despair and ruins and abandoned land waiting for someone, anyone, to claim it and build on it.