Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rybczynski on Detroit

The perpetual adolescent in me — that feral young man fascinated by all manner of ruination — is completely smitten with Detroit City. That place is like Winnipeg, only much, much more so. If I could be guaranteed a modest degree of safety I'd love to spend a week or two walking its streets.

Failing that, there is this photo essay by Witold Rybczynski. If there were a 200-page coffee table book with this material, I'd buy it.


paul bowman said...

Thanks for pointing this out — that's a great link. I should be reading Rybczynski (more).

Funny thing: just last night, walking with a friend in Baltimore's relatively well-preserved & attractive Mount Vernon, I made comment that I'd walk the city's more decrepit streets & alleys too, if I had a chance. (Not a shared sentiment, yesterday.) I have had some limited opportunity to drive around, & even work, in less than healthy parts of town. But Baltimore isn't Detroit, thank God. There's parallel history, of course, and bombed-out decay is widespread. But it's not spreading.

Here's another eye-popping shot of that incredible ruin of a 'central' station on the outskirts of Detroit, posted on a Baltimore firm's blog a few months ago. (And check out Wikip. on this building's turns of fortune — interesting.)

Whisky Prajer said...

I have to wonder how Detroit stays alive (as the USA's 11th largest city!). Every couple of years I seem to pass through, only to be amazed yet again at how many acres of the city are disappearing, as if being devoured by a spore.

In contrast, it's curious to see how NYC has become so reinvigorated (with buckets of cash) that former neighborhoods of ill-repute are now gentrified: Times Square, SoHo, Harlem ... even Hell's Kitchen. I'm not entirely sure what to make of it all.