Detroit's Remarkable Transformation - From Rust to Riches
Activity Around The "D" a "Pure Michigan" Experience
Urban Hot-spot Offering Something For everyone
On a recent flight back from LA, I had an interesting discussion with a young entrepreneur who had given up his high profile Silicon Valley job to be part of the remarkable revolution underway in Detroit. I couldn't help but be inspired by his excitement about the new Detroit.
I was born and raised in Detroit during its heyday. It was a city I was proud to be a part of. The city offered a young man every opportunity to succeed. Those fortunate enough to be born in Detroit received a good education, found a decent job, then stayed and made their contributions to their town’s continued success.
The post WW-2 era saw Detroit transform itself from the “Arsenal of Democracy” to the city that delivered promise and prosperity to a generation of returning servicemen and women. My town led the world in automobile production which fueled the housing industry and improved job markets all through the nation. In 1950, this sprawling metropolis boasted a population of 1,800,000 and had the largest number of homeowners in the country. The city rocked long before Motown appeared on the scene.
In 1967, a police raid on an illegal after hours “blind pig” operation exploded into a full scale riot, President Johnson ordered in the 82nd Airborne Division to assist the Michigan National Guard's efforts to stop the rioting and looting After several days when the smoke cleared, the final tally found 43 dead, 1,189 injured, over 7,200 arrested and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed. This marked the end of Detroit as it was once remembered. Fear now ruled the city, as racial tensions mounted. Thus began a period of “white flight” which ultimately left the city with 700,00 residents, 80 percent of whom were black.
The reduced population could not provide enough tax support to run a city of this size. The infrastructure was geared for a population more than double the number it was left with. Services declined, businesses left and crooked politicians took charge. Left with a staggering debt to repay, and insufficient cash flow to make the payments, the city that was once considered the heart of American industry took a fall that resulted in a collapse.
The onetime City of Champions is once again creating Jobs and hiring
A movement began that swept out the criminal elements that saturated city government at all levels. The corrupt mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick was sentenced to a long term prison term along with a cadre of his criminal network. The city council was relieved of most of its power as an emergency city manager was put in charge of the bankruptcy proceedings. When all was said and done, a new direction was in play that marked the beginning of a revival unlike any ever attempted in modern day America, since Reconstruction.
Mayor Mike Duggan, the first white mayor in generations, introduced sweeping reforms and fiscal responsibility during his ongoing term, which inspired heavy investments from a number of area business leaders.who have created jobs in Detroit Michigan and hiring now. The unemployment rate is at its lowest point in recent memory.
These were major steps that paved the way for the revival. To anyone who had left Detroit for any length of time, the changes and improvements in the city would be obvious to them upon their return.
There are plenty of things to do in Detroit. Every week a new restaurant or several are announced. John Lennon and other big name pereformers regularly appear and offer more fun things to do.in the city..Key developments in the Grand Circus Park area of downtown Detroit invite young technically adept companies and startups to the scene. Billionaire investor Dan Gilbert, Quicken Loan chairman, led the movement with his acquisition and modernization of 70 downtown buildings, many of which had stood vacant for decades. The Illitch family of Little Caesar's pizza fame is continuing work on an exciting entertainment center and is working on completing an incredible new hockey arena for the Red Wings. The developers introduced enhanced security to their projects that brought in more retail businesses and encouraged new housing in the area.
A light railway project is underway that will soon connect the key hubs of the city, especially the ongoing expansions in Midtown, Downtown, the Entertainment Center and the three major sports stadiums. The project will make access to all the new developments along Woodward Avenue readily accessible.
Further north of Midtown the miracle continues.
Anchored by Wayne State University and the Detroit Medical Center, lofts are being added and/or remodeled to handle the heavy demand. Upbeat restaurants and clubs by the dozens are constantly being opened every month, adding more to the mix of top notch amenities These new ventures are being created for the influx of young, upwardly mobile Detroiters and transplants who move here because of the buzz the city has created.
An amazing sight now greets old time Detroiters who are shocked to see the streets in Downtown, Midtown, along the River and on Belle isle jammed with families and young people on bikes. For those of us who remember the days of glory, the current efforts to restore the city sends a shudder down our spines. The revival is happening. This time, it is real.
Abandoned homes are being torn down. Thousands of empty city lots are finding new lives as urban farms. Newspapers are full of positives about this old town, a testament to man’s ingenuity and dedication. It brings a tear to the eyes of many of us who lived through the good, survived the bad and look forward to better times in our revitalized paradise.
If you are young and industrious and love to be at the forefront of change come to Detroit. But be forewarned, you might not wat to leave.