The Ruins of Detroit

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It’s true. People need to realize that Detroit is a Major American City. Yes, it has high crime, and the urban blight is staggering to behold in some areas — entire blocks that have become empty — but we see only this because, as sunlandia21 pointed out above me, the media makes this its narrative. It’s a cliché image about Detroit that allows people a simplistic view. After all, nobody watches news stories that force them to reconsider their conceptions. They’ll just change the channel or flip to a different page.

But Detroit has some of the major cultural institutions in the Midwest. The electronic and rock music scene is burgeoning, and there’s at least one major electronic festival annually. The Detroit Institute of Art is one of the country’s major museums, with many world-class pieces, among them the famous Diego Rivera murals. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, currently headed by Leonard Slatkin, is a significant national contender, and they are really good.

Ford is actually making good strides in green production. Greenfield Village (which they now call *The Henry Ford*, for some asinine reason) is the only thing in the U.S. that can rival Colonial Williamsburg — one of the planet’s greatest historical recreation centers. The Red Wings have won the Stanley Cup more times than I can count. Even among the abandoned and shattered buildings, Detroit boasts some of the nation’s finest architecture in several styles — Renaissance revival, Greek revival (a big style in southeast Michigan), and early Modern, as Albert Kahn was based there.

And lastly, unlike these popular photos would have you believe, the place is still alive. Many, many individual neighborhoods are weathering the post-auto-boom blight and creating small but strong strides against it. There is a burgeoning Mexicantown, a huge Middle Eastern area (with some amazing food, by the way), and, of course, tons of local establishments thriving in all the major areas, such as downtown near the stadiums and so on. Individual neighborhoods have slowly begun to turn to urban farming. And it’s easy to overlook, but many tiny churches and other groups all over the city run humanitarian efforts for their little corner of the world.

TL;DR Despite undeniably bad urban blight, Detroit still holds its own culturally among the great cities of America. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

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