Michigan Central Station is not the only example, but it is actually one of the most popular emblems of the city of Detroit. An emblem left to its fate. It was raised at the first decade of the 20th century, with a height of 18 floors and an even neoclassical beau-art style characterized by modest and proportional shapes, open spaces and Greek columns. A genuine beautiful architectural building, which hosted a commercial area, restaurants, offices and comfortable waiting area during a century, until the progressive downward concluded in 1988 with the departure of the last train leaving a future of ruins and abandonment until today.
Almost three decades after, this mythic station haven’t recovered the life (beyond certain film shooting) and it remains as a common resource to visually illustrate the deterioration of Detroit, a city that once was one of the greatest industrial world powers and Motor emblem, headquarters of the giants Ford, General Motors or Chrysler amongst another, that are no longer available after decades of relocation and a unstoppable population migration. Detroit is still being a special city, thanks to a spectacular artistic and architectural developed during its years of industrial prosperity, a delightful merge between the rude strength of the factories and the several generations of cultural bond through the mythical Motown. All memories of something that doesn’t exist anymore o it does minimally, of a city that still preserves its charm.
The historical Detroit is today a perfect idea for the traveller who doesn’t look for luxury and delights, but with the attraction to the mystery and the evocative landscape of the ruins and the abandoned. This city hit the rock bottom in 2013 when filed for bankruptcy, by then it lose about the 60% of its population (reduced to 700.000 inhabitants when it reached around 2 million decades ago), all its industrial muscles, countless abandoned areas and neighborhoods (we talk about 800.000 empty buildings), and either its basic services (clean water, power, garbage collection…) were available. This is a city in ruins, where unemployment and violence represent high rates, with a landscape of a full-abandoned rich cultural heritage as background.
A slow recovery
However, what came next, seems the start of a recovery, although half-hearted but tangible. The city is involved with original recovery measures, as the auction of pieces of land at ridiculous low prices to citizens, in exchange of a commitment to taking care of its maintenance, a fact very relevant in a city full of avenues surrounded by lands of simple wild meadows, once occupied by houses. The relaxed regulatory framework and the low prices have attracted indeed a considerable number of entrepreneurs, and more than a one giant as the powerful online loan company such as Quicken Loans, with more than 10.000 employees and an intense building recovery work.
Some sustainable urban agriculture efforts (amongst them, a farm in the middle of the historical park Romanowski, closed by the city town) and an encouraging political management seems too to revive a city that seemed wound to dead in both social and economic aspects. There are small details in a long way to go but with a thread of hope. Some media states that it’s impossible to see the magnificence of that golden 60’s back, but all the ones living there are happy with recovering a normal lifestyle and that the way they started seems to be optimistic.
Meanwhile, the attraction of the deteriorated Motor Empire today is still intact for the visitor. We have to admit the fascination that these formidable buildings in ruins awake; only looking them closely is an overwhelming experience.