Friday, October 28, 2011

Lost Detroit - in words and pictures

I am reading a book titled 'Lost Detroit'.  It is a depressing picture of the city I was born in and worked in for many years.  While looking up links for this blog I found a website with even more depressing architectural ruins in our city, though some of the buildings have been restored. 

I was actually in some of these buildings when I went to school in the city and then worked there from 1964-1977.  The sad part is that I never really paid much attention to the architecture.  This from someone whose first career choice had been to study architecture, until one of my drafting teachers told me that women have a hard time getting jobs in the field.  But I was too busy running errands on my lunch hour  back then to take in all that was around me at the time.

I have always been amazed at how we tear stuff down or let our old buildings deteriorate.  We travel off to Europe to see ruins and preserved structures from hundreds of years ago.  And great cities destroyed during the World Wars in Europe are in better shape than Detroit.

No wars in the city.  No damaging weather patterns.  Must be the people.  An attitude of 'newer is better'?  I don't discount the flight to the suburbs.  And changing life styles and traffic patterns.  If no one in Detroit wants to travel by train, you hardly need a depot.

Of course, we can't discount the people who strip these building of copper and other metals once they are empty.  Not that Detroit is alone in its problems.  I know of at least two homes in my subdivision that have had the copper pipes stolen from them.  One just this week.

Everyone likes to blame governments for the problem and they certainly have their fair share of the blame.  Money is not always spent in an appropriate manner.  We have no money to fix our roads but spend millions on roundabouts.  And check out today's Detroit News about wheelchair ramps in vacant neighborhoods. 

But sometimes we need to 'look in the mirror' and see if we have encouraged or condoned behavior that has turned our once great city into a wasteland of abandoned buildings.

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