A look at what happened to Detroit since the late 60s is a microcosm of what’s happening all over – now.
At the intersection of 12th & Clairmount, the American Dream ran headlong into the racial and demographic reality of that dream – outsiders threatening the social order.
The reality is that wherever and whenever – throughout history – there has been a boom in opportunities, there has been a boom in migration to that spot. In the late 19th c., that spot was Detroit.
There had been a long history of racial tension between blacks and whites in Detroit first bubbling up in the Race riots of 1863, again in 1943, and then came the one I remember as a child growing up in Southwestern Ontario – the Riots of ’67. Ralph Bakshi’s Fritz the Cat, and then, Detroit … Motown, Tigertown, Hockeytown … that exotic locale I used to listen to on the AM radio of my youth …
Morphed into …
Rebellion, revolution, race riots. However, you want to label it, it was the beginning of the end for that city. The end came gradually with the gas crisis of the early ’70s which should have made those big gas-guzzling beasts coming off the production line obsolete. However, that was when the powers that be, dug in their heels, and advertised the American dream even harder.
And so, a non-diversified economy in the late 20th c. grew.
School closings. Factory closings. No jobs. Too much time to get in trouble. Neighborhoods crumbled, then self-destructed. The ‘White Flight’ happened as NIMBYs fled to the safer pastures of their nostalgic youth.
Meanwhile, crack cocaine in the 80s solidified the end.
No jobs, not even survival jobs. Forced to go the illegal route just to get some food. Recovery in the urban agriculture movement? Risk-takers actually starting to come to Detroit to be part of the back-to-basics renaissance. The old American dream is dead, look at Detroit … they’re in the process of creating ‘the new American dream’.