Detroit: Dead Or Alive?


Unemployment is 14.1 percent, the stores are boarded up, the population is still dropping, and even The Bus' boyhood home is a burned-out stump. The Motor City will be the real loser at Super Bowl XL.

But wait! Detroit is back! Sunday's Bowl will show everybody, promises Motown chief exec:

The jokes are out of date. Seventy new businesses have moved in downtown since Detroit won the rights to this Super Bowl four years ago, including 35 restaurants. There are three casinos in the city, and another across the water in Windsor, Canada. A massive Super Bowl XL banner covers the city's largest building.

This is not your father's Detroit, [Mayor Kwame] Kilpatrick says. It is not the one that hosted the 1982 Super Bowl, when a snowstorm, a traffic jam caused by a bus fire and the motorcade of then-vice-president George Bush snr led some journalists to declare it the worst Super Bowl ever to cover.

Because, you know, if we have to play football when it's snowing, the terrorists have won.

How has the city revived? How else—with a stadium that only cost the public $500 million.

In Reason, Daniel McGraw declares that the era of big-government stadium building is over, and Matt Welch says not so fast.

To destroy a city completely, you need a truly great mayor. A tribute to the legendary Coleman Young, whose "accomplishments" include the People Mover and the annihilation of Poletown.

Will the bowl ever return to its birthplace?

And speaking of public building projects, light a firecracker for Guy Fawkes—the only man ever to go to Parliament with honourable intentions—who was executed 400 years ago today (a mere three months after the crime!).

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  1. Why don’t states assume control of muncipalities after decades of mismanagement?

  2. If joe ever sees this thread, i have a question: Since (at least according to the article) the city is on it’s last legs, what does it take to keep a city alive, and why don’t cities do it? Being on a coast seems to help alot, but what else?

  3. Hey Guy Fawkes Night involves lighting bonfires! And we all know Detroiters will use any excuse to riot.

  4. Immigration can save a city. People move in, rent apartments, buy cheap inner-city housing, start little stores, drive down wages, and attract business. No shit. It really works. Detroit should declare itself a Spanish-speaking city and eliminate as many regulations as possible and let the good times roll.

    On that note, Chicago is about to take a big step towards Detroit status. Gauleiter Daley has decreed that all licensed businesses open more than twelve hours a day should be REQUIRED to have surveillance cameras inside and out, and has further ordained that said cameras will be linked to a central network for the amusement of the po-lice.

    This could be the best thing ever to happen to libertarianism. I’m predicting a huge increase in the number of unlicensed businesses.

  5. When you’re trying to show off your thriving economy, are casinos the kind of thing you want to point to?

  6. On that note, Chicago is about to take a big step towards Detroit status.

    Well, Detroit has a huge lead, but stuff like this
    certainly makes it look like Chicago is trying to head in the same direction.

  7. Oh, and I’m confused (not that I’m unfamiliar with the feeling…) – I don’t see how Lambeau Field is the birthplace of the Super Bowl. Sure it’s the home field of the team that won the first two, but the Super Bowl can’t return to a place it has never been, let alone consider that its birthplace.

  8. what does it take to keep a city alive, and why don’t cities do it?

    One of the things that it takes is a population with a wide variety of incomes. If you’re a city and all your rich people flee to the suburbs, you’re pretty much fucked–once the flow starts, it doesn’t seem to stop. And contrary to what Mr Daddy says, decayed central cities *do* bring down the whole region. I read a study on that very topic years ago. It said that the suburbs of decayed cities do worse than those of less-decayed cities.

    Anway, more on topic, Detroit needs a LOT more than a few restaurants and casinos (which are coming to be the employer of last resort in many dying cities) to bounce back. These people who think otherwise are crossing their fingers and hoping for miracles.

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