Wattrick’s Clif Notes on Detroit’s Fall

Jeff Wattrick’s column originally published behind a paywall in the Toronto Globe and Mail, but Deadline Detroit has made it available for free.  Wattrick highlights one aspect of Detroit’s history that is under-appreciated:

Detroit can’t be understood as a city in the same way that Chicago, Philadelphia, or Toronto are cities. Detroit is more like a frontier boomtown. The auto industry was our gold rush…

That extraordinary growth was a double-edged sword. Detroit was a city without deep roots. It was built largely to accommodate the auto industry and when that industry and its workers began leaving, first to the suburbs, then to the American and global south, large swaths of Detroit no longer had a reason for being.

Even at our pinnacle, in the years following the Second World War, Detroit was more like the world’s largest mill town than a city in the classical sense.

There simply was no golden age.


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