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Mar 03, 2009

The City at the Straits

Detroit1 Twenty years ago I attended a climate change forum at NC State. Al Gore bored us with his hockey stick, but I still remember the slides from a NOAA guy who showed us possible scenarios for 21st century climate. Every slide said one thing -- buy rural land in Canada, our next Sun Belt. But today's news suggests another option for those who prefer city life:

Detroit's Outlook Falls Along With Home Prices

By Tim Jones, Chicago Tribune correspondent

January 29, 2009

DETROIT — It may be tough to get financing for a new car these days, but in Detroit you can buy a house with a credit card.

The median price of a home sold in Detroit in December was $7,500, according to Realcomp, a listing service.

Not $75,000. Remove a zero—it's seven thousand five hundred dollars, substantially less than the lowest-price car on the new-car market.


If the Obama administration is looking for a city to test new ideas for chronic urban problems, it can look to Detroit, a northern New Orleans without the French Quarter. While bedrock poverty in the Crescent City was violently laid bare by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Detroit has been quietly slipping into social and economic crisis for 40 years. One-third of the population lives in poverty, and almost 50 percent of children are in poverty, according to data from the Detroit-Area Community Indicators System. Median household income has dropped 24 percent since 2000, according to the Census Bureau.


Detroit, which has lost half its population in the past 50 years, is deceptively large, covering 139 square miles. Manhattan, San Francisco and Boston could, as a group, fit inside the city's boundaries. There is no major grocery chain in the city, and only two movie theaters. Much of the neighborhood economy revolves around rib joints, hot dog stands and liquor stores. The candidates travel around this sprawling city, some invoking the nostalgic era of Big Three dominance and vowing that Detroit can be great again.


"Detroit will never be the great industrial center again," said Kevin Boyle, a Detroit native and author of "Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age."

"What will it look like?" Boyle said. "I don't know."

I visited Detroit in 1994 and was amazed at how clean the river was.  How they continue to support a hockey team is beyond me.  Then again, I don't know how the Triangle ever supported one (given the ticket prices and the number of seats) but the Canes are still here.


Hat tip to Brian

Photo yoinked from this interesting blogger.

11:27 AM in Misc. 2009 | Permalink


The 2000 census puts the Detroit MSA population at 4.4M, 11th largest in the US. There's still a lot of middle class and a lot of wealth in the suburbs to support the Redwings and Lions and Tigers and Pistons (oh my!).

Posted by: Glenn | Mar 3, 2009 11:39:56 AM

Lordy, those are some amazing statistics about Detroit. No major grocery store chain? Two movie theaters?

Posted by: Elrond Hubbard | Mar 3, 2009 7:52:15 PM

yeah - it isn't Detroit proper that is supporting that team, it is the vast populace in the suburbs.

Posted by: pinky | Mar 8, 2009 11:36:17 PM

I lived in the near Detroit burbs (Birmingham & Ferndale) for ten years... between '85 and '95... and it was one of the better periods of my life (except for the weather). And I'm still about as rabid a Wings fan as there is, even though I haven't been in or even NEAR JLA since '95. Some things stay with you...

That said... I still have friends in Detroit and things are pretty danged bad and getting worse. To say "it makes me sad" is the severest of understatements.

Posted by: Buck | Mar 9, 2009 1:53:00 PM