I remember once a vibrant city. It was a city on the move, a city of well-kept homes, and front lawns. It was a city of good quality stores, restaurants, and other entertainment. Night clubs, finer dinning, and those all night eateries where you could get something fast and good, and were safe as well.
On Michigan Avenue, Grand River, Gratiot, as well as the famed Woodward Avenue, it was hard to find a boarded up store. A burnt out structure was a rarity as well and one can be assured that if a burn out building or house stayed vacant too long a local community organization would be on the case before some neighborhood kid got hurt in the structure. Baseball was not only the all American but it was also the all city pass time as well. Busses moved up and down the cities main thoroughfares 24 hours a day. Like any metropolitan city crime might be a problem, but if you knew where you were, and where to hang out and not hang out, you could be assured of a relatively safe existence. I should know, because Detroit, Michigan, Motown, the Motor City, HQ to Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Chrysler corperation, the birth place of the Auto Industry, the great city dubbed the ‘ Arsenal of America ‘, during WWII, is and always will be my home town.
It saddens me to watch with great dismay to watch as Detroit, once a giant beacon of the blue collar worker, the pride of labor, home of some of the finest museums and most vibrant communities slips deeper and deeper in to despair and inevitable bankruptcy.
A drive through this once vibrant city tells the story. Boarded up store fronts stretch for miles. Whole neighborhoods have disappeared, wiped out by blight and fire. In many cases whole city blocks are nothing more than burned out shells, the only reminder of what used to be. If one travels down The John C. Lodge Freeway heading toward downtown Detroit, just after crossing the Davidson Interchange, one might be reminded of Berlin shortly after the closing of World War II.
The population has decreased dramatically and the resulting economic decline, more unstoppable than ever, is now taking this once great, vibrant city toward economic collapse. The lasts gasps of a great dying machine.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Detroit, my home town is dying, and if something is not done, and done quickly, it won’t make any difference anymore, because it will soon be over.
Even now, considering the tense negotiations taking place between Detroit officials, labor unions, the City Council, Mayor David Bing, and Governor Rick Snyder, it might be too late. A State take over might not only be unavoidable, but the only chance recourse left for what dying embers are left of what was once a great city.
And no matter the case, the recovery and rejuvenation of Detroit will be a slow gradual and painful process. But regardless a necessary one.
I am sure my readers know full well where I stand on the idea of State mandatory take overs of cities. I have serious reservations with a government that has the authority to take over a whole city and declare itself the sole authority of government, terminating an entire City Council, elected by the people, and a mayor as well. I have serious reservations when the government can appoint a so-called Emergency Manager, with dictatorial powers to govern an entire metropolitan city under the watchful eye of the States Governor. To me it sounds as if the States Governor, at a whim, over some made up perception of wrong doing, can just make a formal declaration and we now have Martial Law. I can only imagine.
Not too long ago I sat down with my brother in Port Huron and we discussed the dying of our home town. Our roots, and the place where after so many years we as a separated family found each other again after some 17 years of being apart. This is a sore spot with him, as it is with me. He sees a city of corruption, dishonest Mayors and City Councils that have raped the city of its great assets. He sees no recovery without a State take over. Perhaps he is right. While I still have my reservations, and would be sure to desire oversight of such a take over, I realize now that as things are, as the tumor of blight, and corruption grows more and more out of hand there in fact may not be a further recourse other than a State mandated and controlled take over.
No one wants to compromise, no one wants to give. Everyone is interested in grasping at power, and control. But those in control, are interested it seems in their own self-preservation. As the city slips further and further in its final throes of demise, the only thing the City Leaders and Labor Unions are concerned with is their own interests and self preservation.
Wall St. lowers its ratings, the city bleeds deeply from its own economic wounds, blight and decay spread as does crime, and it is only a matter of time before those businesses hanging on down town begin to pull up stakes and move to a safer suburban area to assure not only the safety of their employees, but the survival of their business as well.
What a sad commentary. What a sad ending. What a horrific end to a once great city. I only hope that something can be done to save it from a final demise. And one day we will once again look upon a shining beacon on a hill known once again as Motown, the capital of the Auto Industry, the arsenal of America, …………… My home town, Detroit, Michigan!