Tuesday, 8 July 2008
Alec Soth's Detroit
In the Daily Telegraph, Mick Brown and Alec Soth look at the effects race, cars and the subprime fiasco have had on Detroit. James Howard Kunstler gets a namecheck and there is also a short slideshow by Alec here .
"The birthplace of modern America - one might say the modern world - is a huge disused factory building that stands on a busy six-lane boulevard in a part of Detroit named Highland Park.
It has become a commonplace to describe Detroit as the sick city of America, but it is sobering to reflect on just how long this has been so. Browsing the internet before arriving in the city I came across an article in Time magazine headlined 'Decline in Detroit', lamenting the rising unemployment rate, the rate of migration from the city and its declining tax base. 'Blight is creeping like a fungus through many of Detroit's proud, old neighbourhoods,' it read. The article was dated 1961."
This exodus of people and commerce to the suburbs resulted in a massive shift of capital, and a declining tax-base in the inner-city. While Oakland County, the wealthy suburb to the north, is one of the most affluent areas in America, Detroit itself is the country's most impoverished city - not only a synonym for urban decay, but a repository of all of America's most intractable problems: the decline of manufacturing and the threat of competition from overseas; racial tensions; a housing market decimated by the subprime mortgage crisis. More than a third of Detroit's residents live at or below the federal poverty line. Ironically, in the city that gave America the automobile, more than a fifth of households do not own a car."
Read full article here