Essay-Gram: Rise and Fall of Detroit

Essay-Gram: Rise and Fall of Detroit

The first Europeans to set foot in the area that would become Detroit were the French, hence, its name. First called , 'Le detroit du lac Erie' (literally the strait of Lake Erie), Detroit was officially founded and incorporated as a town by french explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac in 1701. The economy of Detroit began as a bustling fur trading post of exports back to France and throughout Europe.

Drawing of Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac and a group of 100 Frenchmen approaching the shores of Detroit for the first time.  

However, with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, Detroit quickly became an industrial and manufacturing powerhouse reaching a zenith at the beginning of the 20th century with automobile production. The first car was not made in Detroit, or Michigan for that matter. But its technology was perfected here and its production was masterminded here. For that reason, literally, it put itself and the rest of the world on wheels. The abundance of jobs here attracted people from all over the U.S. and the world, all seeking their chance at a better life. By the 1950's Detroit had reached a population of nearly 2 million citizens, and was the 4th most populous city in the country. 

An artist's rendering of Detroit life along the river in the early days of its founding. 

Depiction of Detroit as a developing industrial powerhouse before the turn of the 20th century.

Over the course of the next 60 years, Detroit would head down a path of steady decline. Due to a myriad of social, economic, and political issues, Detroit would dwindle in every capacity, to a mere fragment of its former dominance. The city's demise would culminate in 2013 when Detroit became the largest municipality to file for bankruptcy in United States history, holding a debt of over 18 billion dollars. Despite all of the city's troubles over the past half century, better days are yet to come and Detroit will once again be one of America's great metropolis'.

This photo of a former luxury duplex in Detroit's Brush Park, summarizes the broken and desolate condition the city is currently in. There is hope. Recent moves and initiatives show promise and seem to be headed in right direction to ensure Detroit's revival. 

Below are a series of diagrams that visually show Detroit's growth and decline from various points of view.

Because of the mass abandonment Detroit experienced for over 50 years, thousands of vacant lots and neglected buildings lay lifeless in a barren landscape. Although a great many of these structures can not be saved in their current conditions, there are a lot that can be (and should be). This remnant of structures represents the history of Detroit; a history that can't be replicated; a history that does not exist any where else in the world. To demolish these buildings and to raze these lands would be to strip the very essence of what made Detroit what it was. Perhaps, these urban relics could play significant roles in hoisting Detroit back into prominence. This year's trash, could be next year's treasure.   

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