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The London Expat American Meetup Group Message Board › anyone here from Detroit?

anyone here from Detroit?

michael m.
user 3654632
London, GB
Post #: 1
Want to show your friends what it was like?
London, GB
Post #: 45
I'm from the 'burbs but spent a lot of time in the city, trying to escape the monotony of suburban life.

One of the best sites for photos of how things are then and now is: http://www.forgottend...­

I recently went to Johannesburg, South Africa... I felt like I was back at home. It was amazing to see the similarities of the cities. Nice buildings, abandoned. Poor (mostly black) population left in the city while the whites flew to the suburbs. Interesting really.... and in Jo'burg it happened only about 15 years ago.

Sometimes I miss the city, but I love the fact that London (and most other cities) continue to use their innercity and don't just bail when the going gets tough. That's what Detroit needs... go back to the city and make it work.
London, GB
Post #: 46
Here's are a few other good sites:

A former member
Post #: 1
I lived in Brighton and Ypsilanti for 15+ yrs, and live in London now. I enjoyed the links to Forgotten Detroit.
A former member
Post #: 8
Hi there... Yeah, I'm from the motor city as well. I actually grew up in the city, on the east side, and then lived in the NE suburbs for a while. It's a funny feeling, in that I think we all will have a special feeling about Detroit, even though when we see other cities, you feel frustrated that Detroit can't be better.

It's funny how the concept of "Detroit" has a certain vibe. For example, you probably have heard of the cocktail bar "Detroit" in London (but I gather it has nothing to do with the city :-(
Also, if you have been dancing last fall, a big song in the clubs was "Put your hands up (for Detroit)" by someone named Fedde Le Grand. I actually picked up some "Made in Detroit" logo wear when I was back in town over the holidays and have fun wearing it out on the town...

So anyway, we've got to keep our "Detroit crew" in touch through this group :-) See ya at the next meetups.
A former member
Post #: 4
Hey there... Detroit born and bred. Westside, Schoolcraft and Wyoming. I've been here for about 4 months and I like it a lot so far. I miss some of Detroit's soul but I'm importing some food items and other stuff that keeps me from getting too homesick. Nice to meet all of my fellow Detroiters! Go Blue! Go Wings, Tigers and Pistons!
user 6331388
Detroit, MI
Post #: 1
Hey Everyone!

I'm also from the Detroit area ... grew up downriver, Wyandotte to be exact. I was back in 'D over Christmas and hung out in Greektown on New Years Eve. Detroit has definitely improved since I was there last year. They actually have retail shops open on Woodward now and a bunch of new bars/lounges/clubs downtown.

I moved out of Detroit about 5 years ago to NYC, and I've been in London almost a year, but still pop into Detroit once or twice a year. It's changing and improving everytime I visit.

Hope to see you fellow Detroiters at a future event!

Wilber W.
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 2,088
Detroit people! Documentaries on the motor city!­­­

Motor City's Burning: Detroit Music from Motown to the Stooges
Available until: 11:59pm Saturday 20th March 2010

Saturday 13 March
11:00pm - 12:00am

"Documentary looking at how Detroit became home to a musical revolution that captured the sound of a nation in upheaval. In the early 60s, Motown transcended Detroit's inner city to take black music to a white audience, whilst in the late 60s suburban kids like the MC5 and the Stooges descended into the black inner city to create revolutionary rock expressing the rage of young white America. With contributions from Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, George Clinton, Martha Reeves, John Sinclair and the MC5."

Requiem for Detroit
Available until: 10:14pm Saturday 20th March 2010­

Saturday 13 March
9:00pm - 10:15pm

"Rome's got ruins. Athens got ruins. Ours are bigger," says a Detroit artist near the start of this superb film: a long, deep sigh for a ruined American city. The spoken words here are striking, but it's the images that haunt you: street after street of once magnificent buildings, now derelict and gutted. One beautiful old theatre has become, fittingly, a hollowed-out parking lot. Detroit's wealth was built by its car makers, from Henry Ford onwards. Their 1950s dream machines helped shape consumerist America - a land of chrome-decked cars and picket-fenced suburbs. But in Detroit itself the suburbs sucked the life from the city centre just as the auto industry went into decline: some areas are now so abandoned that the prairie is re-establishing itself. Director Julien Temple films the bleak streetscapes cleverly, projecting archive footage of the city's heyday onto modern ruins. Nor does he ignore the political edge of the story: the sequence of the 1967 riots, set to Dancing in the Street by Martha and the Vandellas, may send a shiver down your spine."­

The Culture Show Uncut - 2008/2009 - 19. Martin Freeman Goes to Motown

Detroit family homes sell for just $10
Family homes in Detroit are selling for as little as $10 (£6) in the wake of America's financial meltdown.

Real estate agent Tim Prophet outside of 14301 Maiden Avenue (2nd House from right), which can be purchased for $10 in Detroit, Michigan, United States.

The once thriving industrial city has suffered a dramatic decline following the global economic crisis.

According to Tim Prophit, a real estate agent, the crisis has led to a unprecedented portfolio of homes, but they are failing to sell.

He said there were homes on the market for $100 (£61), but an offer of just $10 (£6) would be likely to be accepted.

Speaking on a BBC 2 documentary, Requiem for Detroit, to be screened on Saturday, Mr Prophit said: "The property is listed by the city of Detroit as being worth $35,000 (£22,000), but the bank know that is impossible to ask.

"This part of town has got a lot of bad press in the media because it featured in Eminem's film 'Eight Mile', but that particular road is fifteen minutes up the road and that is a long way in Detroit."

Homes offered in viewing brochures as early 1920s example of colonial architecture would once have made handsome homes but are no longer sought after.

Mr Prophit, of The Bearing Group, said: "This house was foreclosed by the bank a couple of months ago and was offered to us to sell.

"But we can only put the boards up on the windows to protect the property, we can't be here 24 hrs a day to stop the squatters and the crack addicts from moving in.

"Detroit is a city in decline. We are known as the Murder Capital of America, because of the number of deaths each year."

Mr Prophit said: "Since the subprime mortgage crisis and the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the banks have been foreclosing on properties at an increase of 15 per cent every nine months.

"Last year my firm the Bearing Group dealt with 394 foreclosed properties which all sold for under $1000.

Five years ago the average home price in Detroit was hovering around the $100,000 (£61,000) now that has fallen to $11,500 (£7,000).

Detroit, home to the three big US car makers, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, Detroit has been hit by a perfect storm of unemployment, falling house prices and the near bankruptcy of the automotive industry.

Figures from the U S Bureau Of Labor Statistics show Detroit has the worst unemployment in the entire country at 17.7 per cent.

Requiem for Detroit is screened on Saturday, March 13, at 9pm.

Julien Temple's new film is a vivid evocation of an apocalyptic vision: a slow-motion Katrina that has had many more victims. Detroit was once America's fourth largest city.

Built by the car for the car, with its groundbreaking suburbs, freeways and shopping centres, it was the embodiment of the American dream.

But its intense race riots brought the army into the city. With violent union struggles against the fierce resistance of Henry Ford and the Big Three, it was also the scene of American nightmares.

Now it is truly a dystopic post-industrial city, in which 40 per cent of the land in the centre is returning to prairie. Greenery grows up through abandoned office blocks, houses and collapsing car plants, and swallows up street lights.

Police stations and post offices have been left with papers on the desks like the Marie Celeste. There is no more rush hour on what were the first freeways in America. Crime, vandalism, arson and dog fighting are the main activities in once the largest building in North America. But it's also a source of hope.

Streets are being turned to art. Farming is coming back to the centre of the city. Young people are flocking to help. The burgeoning urban agricultural movement is the fastest growing movement in the US. Detroit leads the way again but in a very different direction. Broadcast on:BBC Two, 10:30pm Saturday 13th March 2010 Duration: 75 minutes Available until: 10:14pm Saturday 20th March 2010
Wilber W.
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 2,089
Documentary looking at how Detroit became home to a musical revolution that captured the sound of a nation in upheaval.

In the early 60s, Motown transcended Detroit's inner city to take black music to a white audience, whilst in the late 60s suburban kids like the MC5 and the Stooges descended into the black inner city to create revolutionary rock expressing the rage of young white America.

With contributions from Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, George Clinton, Martha Reeves, John Sinclair and the MC5. (R) Broadcast on:BBC Two, 12:30am Sunday 14th March 2010First broadcast:Friday 22nd August 2008 Duration: 60 minutes Available until: 11:59pm Saturday 20th March 2010

Wikipedia: Detroit (
Virtual Motor City (
The Detroit Riots of 1967 (
The Washington Times: Detroit haunted by poverty, scandal (
BBC Search+: Detroit
The Guardian: Detroit - the last days (article by Julien Temple) (

Detroit: the last days
Detroit is a city in terminal decline. When film director Julien Temple arrived in town, he was shocked by what he found – but he also uncovered reasons for hope
Film Maker Julien Temple­

Vegetation engulfs an abandoned car wash in Detroit. Photograph: Films of Record

Forbes magazine recently ranked Detroit No. 2 on its list of America's emptiest cities, behind only Las Vegas. The city, according to some estimates, has 60,000 to 80,000 abandoned homes and businesses

When the film- maker Roger Graef approached me last year to make a film about the rise and fall of Detroit I had very few preconceptions about the place. Like everyone else, I knew it as the Motor City, one of the great epicentres of 20th-century music, and home of the American automobile. Only when I arrived in the city itself did the full-frontal cultural car crash that is 21st-century Detroit became blindingly apparent.

Leaving behind the gift shops of the "Big Three" car manufacturers, the Motown merchandise and the bizarre ejaculating fountains of the now-notorious international airport, things become stranger and stranger. The drive along eerily empty ghost freeways into the ruins of inner-city Detroit is an Alice-like journey into a severely dystopian future. Passing the giant rubber tyre that dwarfs the nonexistent traffic in ironic testament to the busted hubris of Motown's auto-makers, the city's ripped backside begins to glide past outside the windows.

Like The Passenger, it's hard to believe what we're seeing. The vast, rusting hulks of abandoned car plants, (some of the largest structures ever built and far too expensive to pull down), beached amid a shining sea of grass. The blackened corpses of hundreds of burned-out houses, pulled back to earth by the green tentacles of nature. Only the drunken rows of telegraph poles marching away across acres of wildflowers and prairie give any clue as to where teeming city streets might once have been.

Approaching the derelict shell of downtown Detroit, we see full-grown trees sprouting from the tops of deserted skyscrapers. In their shadows, the glazed eyes of the street zombies slide into view, stumbling in front of the car. Our excitement at driving into what feels like a man-made hurricane Katrina is matched only by sheer disbelief that what was once the fourth-largest city in the US could actually be in the process of disappearing from the face of the earth. The statistics are staggering – 40sq miles of the 139sq mile inner city have already been reclaimed by nature.

One in five houses now stand empty. Property prices have fallen 80% or more in Detroit over the last three years. A three-bedroom house on Albany Street is still on the market for $1.

Unemployment has reached 30%; 33.8% of Detroit's population and 48.5% of its children live below the poverty line. Forty-seven per cent of adults in Detroit are functionally illiterate; 29 Detroit schools closed in 2009 alone.

But statistics tell only one part of the story. The reality of Detroit is far more visceral. My producer, George Hencken, and I drove around recce-ing our film, getting out of the car and photographing extraordinary places to film with mad-dog enthusiasm – everywhere demands to be filmed – but were greeted with appalled concern by Bradley, our friendly manager, on our return to the hotel. "Never get out of the car in that area – people have been car-jacked and shot."

Law and order has completely broken down in the inner city, drugs and prostitution are rampant and unless you actually murder someone the police will leave you alone. This makes it great for filming – park where you like, film what you like – but not so good if you actually live there. The abandoned houses make great crack dens and provide cover for appalling sex crimes and child abduction. The only growth industry is the gangs of armed scrappers, who plunder copper and steel from the ruins. Rabid dogs patrol the streets. All the national supermarket chains have pulled out of the inner city. People have virtually nowhere to buy fresh produce. Starbucks? Forget it.

What makes all this so hard to understand is that Detroit was the frontier city of the American Dream – not just the automobile, but pretty much everything we associate with 20th-century western civilisation came from there. Mass production; assembly lines; stop lights; freeways; shopping malls; suburbs and an emerging middle-class workforce: all these things were pioneered in Detroit.

But the seeds of the Motor City's downfall were sown a long time ago. The blind belief of the Big Three in the automobile as an inexhaustible golden goose, guaranteeing endless streams of cash, resulted in the city becoming reliant on a single industry. Its destiny fatally entwined with that of the car. The greed-fuelled willingness of the auto barons to siphon up black workers from the American south to man their Metropolis-like assembly lines and then treat them as subhuman citizens, running the city along virtually apartheid lines, created a racial tinderbox. The black riots of 1943 and 1967 gave Detroit the dubious distinction of being the only American city to twice call in the might of the US army to suppress insurrection on its own streets and led directly to the disastrous so-called white flight of the 50s, 60s and 70s.

The rest of the US is in denial about the economic catastrophe that has engulfed Detroit, terrified that this man-made contagion may yet spread to other US cities. But somehow one cannot imagine the same fate befalling a city with a predominantly white population. The population of Detroit is now 81.6% African-American and almost two-thirds down on its overall peak in the early 50s. The city has lost its tax base and cannot afford to cut the grass or light its streets, let alone educate or feed its citizens.
Wilber W.
Group Organizer
London, GB
Post #: 2,090
On many levels Detroit seems to be an insoluble disaster with urgent warnings for the rest of the industrialised world. But as George and I made our film we discovered, to our surprise, an irrepressible positivity in the city. Unable to buy fresh food for their children, people are now growing their own, turning the demolished neighbourhood blocks into urban farms and kick-starting what is now the fastest-growing movement across the US. Although the city is still haemorrhaging population, young people from all over the country are also flooding into Detroit – artists, musicians and social pioneers, all keen to make use of the abandoned urban spaces and create new.

With the breakdown of 20th-century civilisation, many Detroiters have discovered an exhilarating sense of starting over, building together a new cross-racial community sense of doing things, discarding the bankrupt rules of the past and taking direct control of their own lives. Still at the forefront of the American Dream, Detroit is fast becoming the first "post-American" city. And amid the ruins of the Motor City it is possible to find a first pioneer's map to the post-industrial future that awaits us all.

So perhaps Detroit can avoid the fate of the lost cities of the Maya and rise again like the phoenix that sits, appropriately, on its municipal crest. That is why George and I decided to call our film Requiem for Detroit? – with a big question mark at the end.

Requiem for Detroit? is on BBC2 on Saturday 13 March at 9pm

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