What was once the cradle of the automobile assembly line and the very symbol of industrial might in the United States is now a symbol of poverty, crime, and decay.
Industry in America has toppled, and with it came social, racial, and political tensions. Few cities have experienced this as dramatically as Detroit. Failing industry pushed hundreds of thousands of people to flee the city in search of suburbs and other cities. A dramatic wave of deindustrialization swept the city, affecting its every realm. Factories closed their doors, jobs disappeared, and soon after, residents left. The middle and upper classes vanished, leaving behind a massive lower class with no means to maintain a city that rapidly became twice the size it needed to be.
Today, not only has nearly half of Detroit’s 138 square miles been vacated, beautiful structures are left behind with no hope of reuse. There is simply not enough demand to sustain the character and amount of architecture. As famous American boomtowns once existed, their counterparts exist today; cities such as Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh have all lost around 50% of their population over the last 50 years. The commonality that exists is the industry-based economy, the variable being social adaptation to industrial decline. Detroit has arguably fared worst in terms of this variable.