Working as a reporter, I was often sent to work on a story in a city I had written about during the urban riots of the 1960s. I would often think, wow, what a good comeback Pittsburgh or Chicago or wherever it was had made. Landing in Detroit, I never thought that. The decline started then, they say, but every time I returned there I would think it had gotten worse.
I don't know why. Sure, a lot of Americans bought foreign cars but you still saw Fords and Chevys on the streets. The Washington Post notes that Detroit was the country's fourth largest city in the 1950s with a population of some two million. Now it's about 700,000.
Why are people leaving? That's easy. 80,000 buildings are abandoned or blighted; 40% of the street lights, broken; unemployment, above 18%. There are more bad numbers, but you get the idea.
Can it be saved? I hope so. But who knows? People have talked about selling the airport, selling works of art in the museum, which sounds a bit farfetched.
I hope Detroit can come back, that the Lions and the Tigers will stay in a recovering city. It will be a tough rescue, no doubt about that.