Detroit’s wealth of ruins
Contexts 13(2): 62-69
Detroit’s fall has been long in the making. The biggest city ever to declare bankruptcy, Detroit has suffered out-migration since the 1950s, as people followed the jobs that started to leave the city. Auto manufacturing declined and eventually collapsed, and with it did Motor City. Detroit is a victim, symbol, sign of the times, but it is something else, too. Detroit’s citizens have made the city an urban museum. Part of the attraction for tourists is what also entices millions to flock to Rome and Athens every year: a chance to see the glory of times past. Like classical cities, Detroit symbolizes the end of an era—in this case, of American manufacturing. The dramatic ruins of wealth sit alongside a wealth of ruins.