HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Faygo Kid » Journal
Page: 1

Faygo Kid

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 21,473

About Me

A skeptical idealist.

Journal Archives

OK, born and raised a Detroiter. Over 60, and here's my take on what happened.

I was born in Detroit in 1951. I was raised just blocks over Eight Mile Road, in Warren starting in 1954, when that was basically just farmland (I and a neighbor boy explored that farm at 4 years old and set off a community-wide search for us, but that's another story). Anyway, most of my youth was spent on the East Side of Detroit, the Harper-Chalmers area, with occasional happy excursions to Harper Woods, Grosse Pointe, and Roseville. I want to establish my bona fides, but I digress.

Detroit was the fourth largest city in America post-World War II, but you knew that. Like many other communities, after the war, folks started trickling into the suburbs (like I said, basically farmland across Eight Mile Road). OK, but in the mid-1950s, two things happened. First, the very first urban freeway carved its way across Detroit (the Davison Freeway - you can look it up). Then, the freeways cut into the heart of the city, destroying neighborhoods that were solid and enduring. The Lodge freeway, the Ford freeway, and more - all built in honor of those revered leaders of Detroit, and all a conduit out of town and to the suburbs. I live in DC now (hopefully, not much longer), and the Beltway, for all its problems, at least does not gut the city. Detroit's freeways did that.

And then came the nation's first ever shopping malls, also in the '50s. While Hudson's downtown continued to rule, first Northland, then Eastland, were the first in the nation, and shopping habits changed as a result, and have remained changed to this day. That also drew residents out of the city.

OK, we move to the 1960s, and the population tilts toward Black (and Motown - what a great time and place to be a teen). It was a great time to be in Detroit, but the riots - spurred admittedly by Detroit police abuse - made it a tough time. I had friends who dodged bullets while cowering in their homes on the East Side. Nobody wants that. It was 1967, and it was tough. No denying that.


Still, our "Greatest Generation" parents hung in there, and stayed in Detroit. They were in their 50s and 60s as we entered the '70s, and were not interested in moving. Then, came busing. A noble attempt to break down barriers, but not class barriers - no rich kid was going to be bussed, that's for sure. Like the draft that exempted people like Cheney, busing was going to impact the middle class, not the elites. And those parents knew it. I think it would be great today, but in 1970, not so much. And so the white flight really accelerated. If you agree or disagree, it doesn't matter - it happened in Detroit. Period.

The 1968 incredible World Series win by the Detroit Tigers was a bright spot, and brought all of us together.

And then, the '70s, and the decline of an automotive industry that had grown fat and complacent, and produced horrible cars, the worst in history. I had a Chevy Caprice. What a pile of unmitgated junk, and worst electricals ever - that carried over to my 1988 Chevy Beretta. But I digress again. Back to Detroit.

It's tough for me to analyze Detroit in the '70s. I was a student at Wayne State University in the early years (1970 - first Earth Day, then the next week Kent State), and worked for National Bank of Detroit downtown later that decade (long ago swallowed up by megabanks, and just a toenail for J.P. Morgan/Chase now).

Anyway, Coleman Young was Detroit's first black mayor, elected in 1973. He was an absolutely brilliant man, but wasted a lot of opportunities. For example, the Renaissance Center (stupid name) was built on the wrong side of Jefferson Avenue, right on the water (Hank the Deuce - Henry Ford II - had a lot to do with that). It took the city's best feature, the Detroit River, right out of the equation. Then, the Young administration took zero interest in historic preservation, and areas like the street of Civil War era buildings between the business center and Greektown were allowed to rot, then were torn down. Heartbreaking. By 2000, Greektown is basically a casino (still good restaurants, though, and can't wait to get back there).

Lots of folks have tried to bring Detroit back for the last 50 years. Amazingly, it is coming back in some areas: The occupancy rate in midtown (from Wayne State to downtown, on Woodward), is 95%, and they can't build or renovate buildings fast enough to meet the demand. Plus, Comerica Park, Ford Field, the Fox Theater, and the new proposed Red Wings arena are incredible venues. Plus, the restaurants and variety of ethnic food are amazing.

There is no underestimating the poverty, abandoned buildings and violence in Detroit. It's not a story that is likely to have a happy ending. Still, it's been around since 1701, and as its motto says from when it was destroyed by fire in 1805, "We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes".

I am, and always will be, a Detroiter. And always, always, Dancing In The Streets.

Go to Page: 1