Detroit is shrinking


So now we get the word that nearly 30,000 people have left Detroit in the past two years. OK. So it’s only 27,300 according to recently released Census data. But you get my point.

Detroit is shrinking.

It’s not enough that our mayor could be going to prison if his $700 an hour Chicago attorney doesn’t manage to pull enough golden rabbits out of his briefcase, or that the rest of the world is reading about this story, nodding their heads, and either muttering what a shame it is about that poor, poor city or laughing and saying “I told you Detroit ain’t shit.” I mean, that’s bad enough, right?

But now we have to sit and watch our friends and neighbors throwing their belongings into the back of the truck and gunning it for Anywhere But Detroit U.S.A. And then we have to ask ourselves the painful question about what in the hell is keeping us here, anyway? I’m not talking about those who can’t leave, but about those of us who still keep hanging on in the midst of the storm. What the hell is it with us, anyway?

And I mean, it’s not like we haven’t been watching this outgoing tide for quite some time now. Detroit used to be nearly 2 million people strong. Now we’re barely 900,00. It was several years ago when the story broke that we were losing approximately 10,000 people a year. Yeah. Well, given these new figures it looks like that may have been a bit of an optimistic assessment of things.

This is how cities die, folks. One small wound followed by another. And then another. And then another. And then the wounds become larger and uglier. Look, when you start losing three times as many people as any other metropolitan area, which is what the March 27 story said in the Detroit Free Press, then you should know that you’re facing a problem of fairly sizable proportions. And when you add to that all the twisted mess circling around the Mayor Kilpatrick scandal, and then figure that this sordid spectacle will be blanketing our city like a poison cloud for at least a year, you also have to figure that the prospects for continued revitalization are beginning to look noticeably worse.

And this is what hurts so bad. Because prior to …to…all of this …it really was starting to look like good things were starting to happen again. When the Riverwalk opened up last summer and River Days kicked off, my wife and I damned near cried because it was such a wonderful feeling to see this happening in Detroit. The place where so much of the country would never believe such a wonderful thing could happen. And then there were the festivals. And then we heard that Quicken Loans was coming to downtown. And that was just one bit of evidence of the turnaround. Or what those of us who insist on believing in this city insisted was evidence of a turnaround.

But now here we go again. Only this time it appears this just might be the worst mayoral scandal in Detroit history, which of course is happening at a time when Michigan is in a recession, which of course means it’s worse than that in Wayne County and worse still in Detroit. So I guess you could say that a scandal such as this could have come at a better time. Of course, you could also say how much better things may have looked for the rest of the city if Kilpatrick had just stepped up and stepped down, but that would have been too much like right. After all, why would Kilpatrick do what’s best for the city when he’s got himself to think about?

Detroit is shrinking, but it’s not because of the loss of population.


~ by Keith A. Owens on March 30, 2008.

2 Responses to “Detroit is shrinking”

  1. interesting how the media can shape our thoughts and aspiration”Because prior to all this it really was starting to look like good things were happening again”;I think we must start opening our eye’s and decide for ourself,Detroit is having problems but the Mayor’s problem is not Detroit biggest, how about sub prime mortgager or American axle want workers to take a 50% pay cut or the spike in gas price but sex sell newspapers

  2. Hey Tootsie.

    Actually I agree with you that this city is facing many much more serious problems than Mayor Kilpatrick. However, because he is the mayor, I still believe that his actions have an effect that goes far beyond just himself. What he’s done has severely affected the city, and it will continue to do so. Detroit won’t shrivel up and die because of this. Not hardly. But to believe it doesn’t matter would be to really miss the point.

    Good to hear from you again. I’ve been gone quite awhile, so I didn’t know if some of the familiar faces would still be out there.


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