Tell me about Detroit

I just saw an article which mentioned that Detroit in 2010 had a population of 713,000 people. As recently as 1970 it had a population of 1,514,000. That means in 40 years it has lost more than 800,000 people, more than half its population.

Does this mean that there are vast areas in Detroit with unoccupied or abandoned housing? Are housing prices extremely low because of this? With the decline in population, has there been a similar decline in the number of stores, shops, businesses, etc. that once served them? Has the downtown become a ghost town?

What’s the story?

There’s an ongoing thread about Detroit HERE.

The downtown of Detroit is not a ghost town: in fact, last time I was there, there seemed to be a lot of new buildings, though the old Wayne County Courthouse had a sign saying, “For sale or lease by owner”. What’s happened is that the middle class has moved to the cities in the suburbs of Detroit, so that the Detroit metro area has become shaped like half a doughnut. (It’s half a doughnut because it’s bounded on the southeast by the Detroit River, on the other side of which is Windsor, Ontario, which does not have the same doughnut shape.) In fact, viewed from Windsor, Detroit looks like it’s flourishing.

Check out the video in this link to see how appearances can be deceiving. Stay until the end.

Detroit has 139 square miles. 40 square miles are vacant, but those vacancies are spread out. Some blocks are complete. Some are empty. Some are pocked with houses. Crime is rampant. I know the percentage of crime that is reported is only a fraction of the actual crime rate, except for murder. I know this as a matter of personal experience and that of other Detroiters. A working family can pay a penalty of $15,000 just for living inside the borders of Detroit because of high property and income taxes. Also, a private school is a must. Insurance rates for homes and cars is outrageous. Forget about what you hear and read in the news. It’s much worse than that.

Someone once explained to me that while the city of Detroit itself is a pit with problems on top of problems the towns around it are a different story. How else do you support “4” major sporting franchises? Red Wings, Tigers, Lions, Pistons while other major cities can barely hang onto the one or two they have.

Downtown Detriot is great and safe. But venture out the green zone at your own risk. :smiley: Naw, there are bad parts of town, but there are also great ethic area’s like Mexican Town and Dearbourn; both of which have the largest concentrations of Mexicans and Arab people in the midwest; the food is great.

I spent an interesting few minutes on Google Maps and Street View looking around Detroit. Large areas seem to have pretty much returned to nature, with the odd house still standing.

Want to get your dry cleaning done?

I demand you retract that! Dearborn is most definitely not a part of Detroit! You’re absolutely right about the food in both places, though.

Years ago, most of us (when travelling out of the area) would simply say, “I’m from Detroit,” even though it wasn’t technically true. These days, most of us now just say, “I’m from southeast Michigan” when asked, or maybe “the Detroit area” with an emphasis to indicate that it’s not Detroit proper. And SE Michigan is thriving compared to Detroit, and SE Michigan is pretty much responsible for any amount of good that’s in Detroit proper.

I have found this and the other recent thread regarding Detroit very interesting and informative. The limited field of view of a camera lens is certainly plays a role in the story.

I cannot help but think that in the long run the result is going to be pretty cool, a lot of green and natural space surrounded by urban development. I am willing to bet coyote, rabbits, deer, and others (raccoons?) are going to begin showing an increasing presence.

I don’t think it makes sense to go all the way to turning the City of Detroit back to nature. The problem is obviously directly related to the boundaries of the City of Detroit. That city has lost its tax base because first the white middle class, then the black middle class, moved to the suburbs, so it does not have enough money for normal city functions like police and schools. In the long term, the solution has to involve middle-class people moving back into Detroit. How you do that is the problem.

I asked a similar question a while ago: why did Detroit decline relative to Toronto and Chicago? I tried to pick two cities of roughly the same size, in the same area. The consensus was that, while many cities got hit with a few problems, Detroit got hit with all of them. Plus, Detroit was much more dependent on a single industry than Chicago or Toronto.

Plenty of people hurting in Birmingham and Auburn too. Add the Delphi bankruptcy to the big 3’ problems.

When did they move the growing and vibrant Dearborn into Detroit?
You can’t get around 40 vacant acres.
If you are sharp enough or simply have good eyes, you can drive through and see crimes in progress. There is good reason so many homes have bars on the window. If you live in Detroit, make sure someone guards the house while you venture out for that great food.

Remember other cities also lost a lot of people Chicago went from 3,620,962 in 1950 to 2,695,598 meaning 925,364 left the city in the same time period.

Of course the percentage is different as Chicago was nearly twice as big, but today Chicago doesn’t seem any less empty.

It’s true. I live near Detroit and things are fine. It’s nice, safe, clean, and a lot of the population that left Detroit moved to the suburbs outside it.

Detroit isn’t as bad as portrayed, either, by the way.