You don't really want to go to Detroit. It's rather depressing. Even around the so-called "tourist" areas near the casinos.I took some photos and shared them on my blog last year. It's here if you're curious. Nothing surprising, nothing you can't find elsewhere.
My wife and I met in Baltimore in the fall 1981, she had moved from her hometown, Detroit, a few months earlier and I was living in my group house on Todd Ave. in Cedonia.In the fall 1982 she took me back to see her home town.Driving out Jefferson Avenue from downtown east we stopped at a traffic light and the looks we got from the crowds on the corner scared me.I was a 26 year old white male, grew up in B'more, spent plenty of time in racially mixed areas of New York, Philadelphia, Richmond, during undergrad and grad school and I never felt like I did that afternoon in Detroit.It was a scary place 30 years ago.
I was detailed to Detroit from September 2008 to last October. It's where I'm originally from. During the last 15 months of the assignment I lived right downtown, on the riverfront. I'm back in the Imperial Center, Metro DC, now.Detroit's got severe problems, sure. It looks -- well, 'grim' doesn't quite capture it. It's a little like living in an archaeological ruin. But I bicycled all over the city, day and night, solo and with a group of guys I fell in with. Never had a problem. Emptiness is the main vibe in Detroit now, not menace. Granted, I was -- much to my astonishment -- living a very privileged existence, compared to the average Detroiter. But I didn't see the kind of daily mayhem that made Detroit the Murder Capital 20, 30, 40 years ago.For all its problems, there are several things going on in Detroit that I find very intriguing, that may yet bring me back there to stay. Land is so cheap and available that it's almost like a new frontier. A trickle of younger people is starting to flow back into the city. There's an active urban farming and gardening scene. Don't forget that the world's largest fresh water system drains right past Detroit's eastern edge. I think the city might host some very interesting social and economic experiments in the years to come. (Unfortunately, Michiganders have opted to put an especially rabid sort of Republican in charge of the state. Not promising.)Here's one contrast between B'more and The D that I never could figure out: In the bad neighborhoods of Baltimore I'm used to seeing little knots of young males hanging out, engaging in the commodities market. I never saw that in Detroit. I'm sure there's a hopping drug trade there, but I don't know where the deals happen. I heard speculation that dealers work out of vacant houses -- no shortage of those in Detroit.I don't know how I stumbled on to it, but I like the blog. It's nice to know that not all cops are, well, state-sanctioned thugs. Gotta say, more and more I look at cops with wariness. And I'm a citizen, a white male taxpayer.-- sglover
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