Saturday, January 8, 2011

An American downtown falls apart...

Detroit in 1907: Even in a black-and-white photo, you can tell the city was alive.
Happy Saturday!  Eighth graders, you know you'll be taking a test on urbanization on Tuesday.  The late 1800s and early 1900s were the time period when American cities grew the fastest.  Why did so many people move to cities?  Well, that's one of your test questions, and you'll need to know at least four different reasons, but the biggest reason was JOBS.  Inventors were creating new technology that needed to be produced in factories, and companies opened their factories in cities like New York...and Detroit.

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?

1 comment:

  1. its really bad how big industry could lose such an amount of people and money. and i was really shock about both of the pictures that you put up how big citys from these days just look really goos but now they just look kind of bad and stuff