Working through my ignorance with your help.
While these are striking and heartbreaking pictures, I'd just like to point out that this is not a recent thing. While most of the photos don't give abandonment dates, the ones that do show that they have been ruins for a long time (the theater in the photograph you show closed in 1974). Detroit has been progressively falling apart for nearly as long as I've been alive - basically ever since the riots in 1967. Trying to tie these ruins too closely to current events is a mug's game. It's true that the decline of Detroit is ongoing, but the recently-abandoned parts haven't had time to decay so picturesquely yetI could make a very similar photo montage showing the decline and ruin of the areas around Houghton, Michigan, which was once a major copper-producing area (a friend referred to it as a "19th Century Industrial Wasteland"). The ruins are everywhere. It doesn't really reflect on on the current living conditions of the people here, though.
So we've got a lot of places that are in ruins. They date back to some time in the past. Why didn't we demolish them / clean them up / renovate them with the $850B? What are we doing have wrecks all over the place? It seems to me like wiping out these derelicts are as shovel-ready as a project could get.Meanwhile, we're all hot for high speed rail.
Detroit *did* get some money that they used to clear out some decrepit buildings. I understand that a lot of the buildings in "ruins of Detroit" are no longer in existence because of this.And they got raked over the coals for "wasting money demolishing buildings when they could be using it to fix them". There was a bit of a local furor about it at the time. (never mind that the reason why the buildings were abandoned was because nobody wanted them enough to fix them in the first place. And if you fix up an old building, you don't end up with a new building - you end up with a fixed-up old one, with all of the annoying architectural and structural problems that contributed to it being abandoned in the first place).Detroit is far from my favorite city. Their incompetent and sometimes criminal government has made the city a blight on the state for far too long. But as far as the buildings go, they're damned if they leave them up, and damned if they tear them down.And concerning why the state in general has ruins: after a while, ruined buildings get sentimental value. The ones around Houghton actually have gotten old enough to be tourist attractions.
As an environmentalist of the non-Global Warming kind, I'd have liked to see those ruins pulled down and replaced with open spaces. Cities wax and wane according to their own mechanisms. When a city is on the decline, it's better for the environment to clear out the excess capacity for human habitation and give it back to the critters.
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