I found this article about the fascination of ruins.
Comparing Detroit to the Roman ruins isn’t very fair but there were both at sometime a great city. I’m not so sure people in Rome get upset as tourists flock to take pictures of what was once a great empire. There is a different sentiment about Detroit which, at one time, was America’s 3rd largest city. The people of Detroit aren’t thrilled about how tourism has to their city has evolved from enjoying the luxuries the city had to offer to now exploring the skeletons of what once was.
Detroit is a perfectly wonderful living ruin. Wondering around the city will lead you to shell after shell of once-wases and has-beens. A quick search reveals there is not a single chili’s, outback steakhouse, apple bee’s, or ruby tuesday’s in the city of Detroit (I am not mentioning this because Detroit is missing out on perfectly mediocre food but because these restaurants are a barometer of economic activity). I mean there are only 3 McDonalds in the whole city (compare that to this)! The point is its a pretty empty place.
Is Detroit a scab on a list of great US cities? No, it is simply down on it’s luck. Personally, I think this is a great learning opportunity and the city itself is now embarking on an unintended experiment. Everyone knows Detroit was built on the back of the american auto industry and how the decline in that industry directly affected Detroit. But the city is not gone. It has just changed. As our generation tries to figure out what the next chapter has for the country, I think we should turn and look at Detroit which will give us an idea of whats to come. As the rest of the country struggles to figure out how to adapt to rising gas prices and low employment, Detroit is grappling with it right now as we speak because they must.
As Washington tries to write policies regarding housing, oil, and big business I hope they visit the ruins of Detroit. There is a lot to learn from the successes and failures within Detroit. If we did not adjust our behavior based on what has happened to Detroit, we would be letting perfectly good ruins go to waste.