|Detroit in 1907: Even in a black-and-white photo, you can tell the city was alive.|
Detroit is most famous for the automotive (car/truck) industry. Back in 1903, Henry Ford started the Ford Motor Company in Detroit, and soon enough, Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors--America's Big 3 car companies--were all based in Detroit. Detroit was big in the late 1800s and it was huge in the early 1900s. At its largest, Detroit was home to 1.8 million people, enough to make it the fourth-biggest city in America.
That brings us today. Most factories have moved out of American cities, either to the suburbs or--more often--to other countries. Ford, Chrysler, and GM have faced serious competition from Toyota, Honda, and other foreign companies, and they've lost money and cut jobs over the past few years.
Long story short, Detroit has shrunk from 1.8 million to less than 1 million people. Detroit's downtown has fallen into decay. Take a look at this slideshow (and the accompanying article). It shows how Detroit's majestic downtown has just fallen apart. The European photographers who took these photos were shocked to see just how much of a mess Detroit is. Gorgeous theaters, libraries, offices--all vacant and in disrepair.
|Much of Detroit's downtown looks like this today.|
What are your reactions to these photos? Why do you think this has happened? Why haven't people moved in to rebuild these buildings? What could be done with them? What would you need in order to fix them up?