Detroit Michigan: An Aftermath

Posted: March 30, 2011 in Uncategorized

Life Magazine offers “Detroit Still Life” Pictures (February 2010), which look more like aftermath pictures. One image shows a rather new vehicle, scrapped to the bone, the appearance.. it is not safe to leave your vehicle unattended. There is an image of the Belle Isle Aquarium (built-in 1904, shut down in 2005), a beautiful building and incredible piece of history. The aquarium’s basement served as a speak easy during prohibition. There are people fighting for the aquarium, definitely a gem that should not be left to scrapping, and scavengers. The Detroit Zoo risked being closed in 2006, but people who support the zoo fought for, and continue to fight for it. There is a glimmer of life still beating! Yet beautiful church stands with a sign “Best Cash Offer”, other churches along with schools stripped to the bone.

A quote from the Time slide show, describes and illustrates the landscape in Detroit.

 Daniel Okrent wrote in his Time cover story, “where for decades orderly rows of sturdy brick homes lined each block, is now the urban equivalent of a boxer’s mouth, more gaps than teeth. Some of the surviving houses look as if the wrecker’s ball is the only thing that could relieve their pain.” The tortured vista Okrent describes is found again, and again, and again, throughout the city.

Detroit is rich with history, one that tells so much of America’s history. Sadly so much of it is decaying and being scrapped. I suppose that in itself is another page of our history books, when people have to pick through the rubble of what built their town, in order to survive.

But are they without hope? No doubt a huge part of the problem revolves around the domestic automakers (specifically Chrysler and GM). Both of these automakers have failed in the past, and bailed out, or rescued in one manner or another. Part of the automakers problem revolves around the unions, which makes sure that the quality of work is not a primary focus. If the unions were eliminated, perhaps the pride in product would return, as would the pride in Detroit would return as well. So they have hope, if they will allow it!

Welfare recipients are a huge factor, and looking at data from 2003 ( Michigan ranked at #13 with 2/100 as welfare recipients per capita, but ranks #5 with total quantity 202,469 (California ranks as #1 with over a million welfare recipients).

Where did 465,659 people go?

Check out a couple articles from 2009, one that talks about Michigan’s population drops below 10M for the first time since 2000. Another one from 2009 talks about the Michigan’ 8 year Population Exodus

So why is it a problem that people are fleeing Michigan? See the photos and links I have shared, they highlight the problem, it is who is left behind, those picking through the rubble. They are not people who will or can rebuild, they are the scavengers who pick through what is left.

The state loses a family every 12 minutes, and the families who are leaving — young, well-educated high-income earners — are the people the state desperately needs to rebuild.
data reveals that every day, Michigan gets less populated, less educated, and poorer because of out-migration
To give numbers a more tangible feel:
Since 2001, migration has cost Michigan 465,000 people, the equivalent of the combined populations of Grand Rapids, Warren and Sterling Heights the state’s second, third and fourth-largest cities.
The downside, again for those left behind, the lower wage earners, the scavengers.. often those requiring government (tax-payer) assistance.. hard to come by when the major taxpayers leave. That is a perfect example for those who believe in Socialism, just check out the remains of Detroit. Imagine an entire country of those on the bottom rung, who is supporting them? Instead of politicians attacking the wallets of those who make more, they should encourage more people to aspire to that quality of life (instead of reinforcing the bottom rung with hand outs and Welfare).
The upside, politically..
As Michigan loses population and other states gain, the state is likely to lose more congressional seats, resulting in less clout in Congress. Electoral votes — based on congressional seats — probably will decline, giving Michigan less influence in presidential elections when votes are reallocated in 2010.

Another potential upside? Michigan has a large Union (problem). Perhaps with the hardships they are facing the union problem will also dissolve. While yes those left back in Detroit are likely those who were/are union workers, if the economy landscape remains, they may rethink things. Perhaps this could benefit their children, but not introducing another union generation (the union problem, does often run in families). 

Detroit’s Downfall:

A look back at the Packard Motors plant 1899-1958 (on the left) long since deserted. The skeletons of Detroit’s past still linger.  While everything/every place has highs and lows, there is always decay and progress.. but the fact that there are remains wasting away a half century later (a welcome sign for crime) is not a strong statement for Detroit and any progress they could and should be able to achieve.  A peek into the future for Detroit? Apparently yes.. and even worse..

Abandoned businesses, buildings, hospitals, hotels, churches, schools, and homes… a desolate, apocalyptic landscape.  These are signs of our current times, we can find them everywhere. What makes the difference? When an area has people fleeing, in mass. Population rolls back to 1910.

Thank you Katie for sharing with me a photo journal article (Daily UK) about Detroit Michigan. The pictures and story are simply horrifying. The buildings look like a bomb or war hit them, and much of the damage occurred within a year. I started thinking back to a story on Top Gear, (Series 15 episode 6 ) showing the aftermath of their dead auto-industry. The episode showed the Jensen Automotive plant in West Bromich UK, like Detroit Michigan, West Bromich is part of an Industrial area.

Yet the UK aftermath is nothing compared to what Detroit has done to itself.   The Jensen factory closed in 1976, and the Top Gear episode was 2008. Consider over 3 decades a defunct factory still was in better shape than any of the leftover in Detroit, after just a year!

Here is another  photo tour of Detroit. They share some places that were spared, why others were not. Like all places around the country, we all have some form of decay, but the story about detroit is so much bigger than that.

What else is plaguing Michigan? Could there be more? Sadly, there sure can..

Michigan is on disease cluster list: An environmental group will tell a Senate panel today that it has identified 42 suspected clusters of cancer, birth defects and other illnesses in Michigan and 12 other states.

What other States did they find with these disease clusters?

The 42 clusters — either confirmed or under active investigation — are in Texas, California, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio, Delaware, Louisiana, Montana, Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas

Examining Jane Cooper Elementary, not an isolated story, sadly it is one of many.

One item that drew my attention was, Jane Cooper Elementary School.. (Images Spring 2008 vs Spring 2009). A brand new playground was installed just a year before it was shut down. Look what can be done to a school in just a year..


Looking up more information on this school, I found that it is (or was) a nuke-shelter. (Noted 2008: Waymarking)

Sweet-Juniper offers more pictures and a story about the school & the surrounding, extremely depressed, impoverished area. Visit that link & read the story, it is quite a heart-wrenching story. The stone building is a very handsome building, what remains of it anyhow. The writer describes part of the story, surrounding homes leveled to make space for an industrial park, that never happened. The skeletal remains of the school have been picked at by scavengers. (Note: Government involvement gone amuck, both in choice and timing).

More pictures show what looks like the contents of children’s desks. The picture looks like maybe people left for lunch, but just never came back.  The rubble and waste is beyond description. The appearance would make you ask, the aftermath of an earthquake, a tsunami, a tornado, a hurricane,.. maybe a war or bomb?

The writer offers what they found out about the abandoned school, it was once a fall out shelter (like many schools were at one time). So that sign and site I had found, are just more remnants of what it once was.  As the writer further investigated he found horrible news stories that involved the children, those alone should make this building a home for ghosts.

Was the town always such a sad place? The writer shares it once was a place of pride. Hard to imagine, with this aftermath.

The writer is not sure when the school opened, who Jane Cooper was, but does find it was closed in 2007. It only took a little over a year for the school to be stripped.

Another site (DetroitFunk) shares more pictures, and more story. They offer some more close up details of the tile on the front of the building. Also pictures of textbooks piled in the rubble (the writer include amazon values for those books), they highlight the toilet paper that was left there (while other schools require children to bring their own). Why so much waste? Why didn’t the district gather all these valuable items? They certainly could be used at other schools.

The writer also notes there are many Detroit schools that have this aftermath appearance. It is sad enough to see the what has happened to this school, but for there to be more like this! No wonder there are so many failing children, and failing communities.

I found the school’s slogan to be quite a statement.. “Making a difference”, maybe in a sense it is.. it is telling us a lot about wasteful governments, and bad choices.

Here is a noteworthy look back, less than a decade before this school was abandoned… it was an exemplary school? Yet now it is abandoned, and stripped…

Governor John Engler “Jane Cooper Elementary School’s outstanding program deserves this recognition for its innovative educational approach and its promotion of lifelong learning with emphasis on developing career skills,” said Governor Engler. “It is a model program for others to follow.”

~ From 1998

Another Eye Catching Curiosity:

Also from the UK article, another item that drew my attention… The Bagley-Clifford/Detroit National Bank, I looked for information on when it closed. The image looks like it was bombed by a nuke! I could not find any specific information on this specific location, but according to what I could find the Detroit National Bank (DNB) has been subject to a variety of mergers. The DNB was founded in 1933 (The Great Depression), during the banking reform it the bank was shared by GM & the Government (Sounds familiar, eh?). Eventually they were free, then merged in 1995 with the 1st National Bank of Chicago, then with Bank One, then by JP Morgan. Now the DNB is Chase (2006). 

So when was this bank left abandoned? Was it before one of the mergers? Could it have been around 1995 with the 1st National Bank of Chicago?  Or was it more recent? Like after 2006 with the Chase name?

Numbers.. data… and looking further into the Detroit Disaster:

For further reference, can we look at the political make up of Michigan? Specifically looking at the Detroit Metro area (Oakland, Macomb & Wayne Counties).. and the 2008 Presidential Election:
  • Wayne County voted over 74% for Obama
  • Macomb County voted over 53% for Obama
  • Oakland County voted 56.5% for Obama

Who went where:

On the Detroit News they offer a county map of the state, colored to show which counties have had the most people flee, the map is interactive (reflecting 2006-2007) you can click on each to see details of where they went to, and how many. When you look at the map you can see the majority who have left between 2006-07 were on the southern end of Michigan, the largest concentration being the Detroit Metro area.  Also noting the Detroit Metro area again.. (they highlight the top 10, I am highlighting the top 10 destinations).
You can see the vast majority fled to Maricopa County Arizona or Cook County Illinois.
  • Wayne: 970 Maricopa Co Az, 837 Cook Co IL, 691 Clark Co NV, 370 Los Angeles CA, 326 Lucas Co OH.
  • Macomb:  452 Maricopa Co AZ, 312 Clark Co NV, 296 Cook Co IL, 211 San Diego Co CA, 171 Lee Co FL.
  • Oakland: 1,175 Cook Co IL, 877 Maricopa Co AZ, 476 Los Angeles Co CA, 465 Clark Co NV, 338 King Co WA.

Overall data on the Detroit News site, shows the states that Michigan people have fled to are: Florida,Illinois, Nevada, Arizona, Nevada & California.. interesting they are also the states with the highest foreclosure rates. And article from CNBC (March 2011),Nevada #1, Arizona #2, California #3, Michigan #7, & Florida #8.

Economy: Detroit News offers some neat little interactive items.. visit the site to see them, I have also noted down the data below..

Personal Income:  has a little time-line gauge, comparing Michigan & the US on personal income. You can see how the gap widened dramatically after 2005.
  • 2000: Difference $326. US & Michigan were nearly even around $33k
  • 2001: Difference $716. Michigan barely budged, US was over $34k
  • 2002: Difference $677. Not much change for either.
  • 2003: Difference $432. Michigan over $34.5k US $35k
  • 2004: Difference $1,744. Michigan nearly $35k US over $36.5k
  • 2005: Difference $2,728. Michigan $35.5k US over $38k
  • 2006: Difference $4,208. Michigan just over $36k US $40.5k
  • 2007: Difference $4,222. Michigan dropped to just over $34k US $38.5k
Unemployment: The gap got worse in 2003, and kept getting worse for Michigan.
  • 2000: 0.3% Difference. MI nearly 4% US 4%
  • 2001: 0.5% Difference. MI over 5% US under 5%
  • 2002: 0.4% Difference. MI over 6% US under 6%
  • 2003: 1.1% Difference. MI over 7% US 6%
  • 2004: 1.6% Difference. MI over 7% US 5.5%
  • 2005: 1.8% Difference. MI under 7% US just over 5%
  • 2006: 2.3% Difference. MI under 7% US just over 4.5%
  • 2007: 2.6% Difference. MI over 7% US just over 4.5%
  • 2008: 2.6% Difference. MI over 8% US just under 6%

Automotive Market: You can see the steady decrease in the Domestic market since 2000, by 2008 the Domestic market was less than 50%


  • Domestic 65.6%
  • Asian 28.2%
  • European 6.2%


  • Domestic 63.3%
  • Asian 30.2%
  • European 6.5%


  • Domestic 61.7%
  • Asian 31.3%
  • European 6.9%


  • Domestic 60.2%
  • Asian 32.6%
  • European 7.1%


  • Domestic 58.7%
  • Asian 34.6%
  • European 6.8%


  • Domestic 56.9%
  • Asian 36.5%
  • European 6.6%


  • Domestic 53.7%
  • Asian 39.4%
  • European 6.9%


  • Domestic 51.1%
  • Asian 41.7%
  • European 7.2%


  • Domestic 47.5%
  • Asian 44.6%
  • European 7.8%
  1. Katie says:

    Here is an interesting site on buildings of Detriot.

    I just can’t get past the idea that people are reverting back to an animal state. People have been poor, before, but the system seems to have robbed them of any dignity or hope.

    Looking at my area, in the past, poor areas were lived in by hard working people. They took pride in their home – because they had worked hard for it. They took care of their home, and they believed that it was possible that their children would do even better. They did not feel shame for their impoverished state, because there was no reason to feel ashamed that you were hard working.

    Look at people today. Poor areas are usually dangerous areas. Most people there do not work, so they are not invested in maintaining their homes. They lay around, and wait for the gov to take care of them – because it is owed to them. They are lazy and entitled. They destroy nice things, for the “fun” of it, or because they don’t have it, or because it is someone else’s,… Look at the school that you have a picture of. They entered the building, destroyed all of the seats, ripped the curtains down, spray painted the walls… And that is only what you can see at a distance… What kind of animal does that???

    • gypsy says:

      definitely a different world up there, and so sad because there are so many (once) beautiful buildings, so much history.. that has just been left to rot.

      like the link you shared, several closed in the 1980s.. not in recent years.. why did they allow them to close, and decay? Why did they not save and protect them?

      By leaving things to rot like they have, all they are left with is rot. So why would anyone choose to fight and have pride.. pride in what? a carcass of a town?

      It is amazing to see what Michigan has become. Then look around them, look at Wisconsin.. look at Chicago.. this is a trifecta of thugs, thieves, and greed.. big huge concentration of crime & unions (interchangeable). And as we are seeing those worlds are colliding, meshing, mixing..

      Will anyone up there wise up?

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