Detroit by Drone

Sad and beautiful at the same time

Having grown up in Ypsilanti (not too far west of Detroit), I find this a great deal more sad than beautiful. I’ll refrain from political commentary on the topic, but simply mourn the awful decisions over decades that have led to the decline of what was once one of the most powerful cities in the world.

There’s still some good there, notably our friends at GHI (and my wife still has family in the Detroit area), and that gives me hope.

Detroit suburbs are fine and beautiful, just the downtown area is dead and scary. It is sad to drive in downtown and run in street with nothing but empty old houses. The problem is no one want to live there due to crime rate and the mess happening there but then if no tax-paying people live there then how would the city afford fighting crime and cleaning up! More crime = less people = no money to fight crime … and things go out of control.

Actually, the video is not that bad. It is a lot worse in many areas. Now, drive 30 minutes in any direction away from down town and it is beautiful neighborhoods with beautiful malls and $1M houses!

A friend of mine owned a house in down town and she offered to sell it for $5,000!! She didn’t want to pay taxes on a house that is with nothing and people living in it are not paying their rent. No one bought ti, not even fro $5000 so she gave it for free to the people renting it :slight_smile: Of course Detroit and it suburbs are very large so it is not the same everywhere. Go around fox theater or comerica park and things get better.

I’m fuzzy on the details, but I thought I heard on NPR that they are working on taking small sections of run down areas and converting to farms,

Am I recalling this correctly?

Hey, I ride my bike along a lot of those routes.

Yes, Detroit has a lot of urban farms starting up. I’ve heard it’s the world leader in urban farming.

Here’s a link to a commercial farm starting up in Detroit:
Most of the farms I’ve seen there are local community ones though.

(aside – not trying to hijack this thread, but it’s my first post – Hey Gus, thanks for selling me the FEZ Ultimate Kit at Maker Faire, I’ve been playing with it lately, and the kids really like it so far.)

@ dbowden -

Urban farming - interesting.

Welcome to the forum!

Welcome to the community and we are glad you are having fun with the kit. I am sure you will find many used for this around the holidays.

By the way, I am about to email you as we have problems running the charge. Would you please reply to my email once you get it?

As a scientist Detroit is extremely interesting as Detroit’s problem (well one of many) is one of contraction, where a significant portion of the population has left, which blows out the assumption that is almost universal in expectations (and wrong), that growth is perpetual. Now what makes this interesting is that Detroit’s problem will become more common in the future for other cities as nation populations level out (or even start declining as in Japan for example). How do you shrink a city is the question and there are many facets to this, reclaim land, exit plan for utilities, services, etc are all things we never dreamed of having to do for a major city. This also impact large cost projects as long term funding might not exist in the ‘long term’ (a problem that comes with contraction, is contraction of the tax base for example), or increased need or risk factors to consider when evaluating projects or long term. We mortgaged everything to the hilt with the expectation that we could pay for everything in the future, Detroit found out they couldn’t, and now a number of cities in California for example are also discovering they can’t either and more in the future will no doubt also fail (you can expand this into failing states, and countries as we are starting to see in Europe). So how we handle Detroit, the lessons we learn will be used many times in the future and not just in the US, hence the interest Detroit has. One of the problems of deferring costs to the future is it become part of a shared pool of risk, so what happens in Detroit, Greece etc impacts the share pool of risk for everyone, so finding solutions to these problems (or likely an efficient method of dealing with the inevitable outcome) is in the best interest of everyone who is involved with this risk pool of deferred costs (ie pretty much everyone on the planet). In short kids we have been living a life we couldn’t afford then, now or in the future and reality has kicked in the door of our dream and is about to unleash an attitude adjustment on us.


Its always amazing when driving thru areas of urban decay the amazing architecture and stonework one sees. Gary Indiana and Cleveland OH are very similar. I grew up near Gary and a couple of my facebook friends have posted pics of differences in the last 15 years, amazing how far things have gone downhill in an accelerated fashion. I’ve come to accept this as part of human existance, just look at the ruins of Rome or Athens, they’re no different. Its even worse, far worse, in Russia.