Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why I'll miss Detroit

It started about two years ago, when I was on vacation for a few weeks over summer break. I didn't expect it and brushed it off as just missing my freedom or my own private place. But it was more than that. I missed Detroit. And it's happening again, as I pack up to move out of state. I will miss Detroit.

The famous Chrysler Super Bowl ad comes to mind- it said it well, and portrayed the city not as a third world dump, but as the industrial heartland, a place that knows what it's like to have everything- and lose it all. It made everyone that lives here proud, and while I was merely a passerby in the history of this city, it brought a tear to my eye.

It was in the hottest fires and the coldest chills that brought innovation and progress to our world in the 20th century, and Detroit experienced it all, physically and metaphorically. The frigid, neverending wintes, and the searing hot welding torches. The cold greed that brought the ultimate downfall of the city, and the fires that raged when the people tried to stand up for themselves.

Detroit is always lauded as the birthplace of the middle class, but in my opinion, it has become a symbol of our true system- the rich versus the poor. On one side of the street, a freshly painted tudor mansion with well-groomed lawn and gardens. On the other side, a dillapitated 60's cookie-cutter house with a burned-out roof and weeds invading every nook and cranny. "It's honest", I told the cab driver this morning- nobody thinks of this as New York, or LA. Nobody wants to come live a quiet, suburban life in Detroit. You can't, and not just because of the lifestyle (crime, depreciation, destruction), but because everywhere you look is either an opportunity or complete failure.

That's not to say that it can't come back- in fact, one of my favorite things about it is the unbridled optimism and public dreaming that has gone on lately. Yes, Detroit failed- but now is an opportunity to make it better than it was even supposed to be. I hope to return, and someday, I hope it does become better than it was supposed to be.

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