NPR logo A Long, Hot Summer in Detroit

A Long, Hot Summer in Detroit

Detroit surprised me. I grew up in Chicago, a few hours to the south and west of here. And, all I knew about Detroit came from the media: crime, Halloween arson, racial tension, cars, music, and the Lions. Driving through the city for the first time this morning, I saw plenty of cars and music, but no crime, arson, or obvious tension. I saw gleaming office towers, new elevated rail lines, classic 1920's style office buildings, shops, restaurants, and the new ballpark (which is more of a Tigers complex than just a park, and looks amazing). The GM building stands above everything downtown, and gives the place a sort of hopeful, futuristic feel. That's not to say there aren't problems. The legacy of the 1967 riots left empty homes and businesses, lonely streets, a troubled economy and schools, and lingering racial tension. Crime is still a problem. And a short drive from downtown brings you to the doorsteps of long deserted and crumbling homes that are heart-breaking. They're huge, stone houses with great yards and an almost majestic feel, but they-re totally empty — windows are broken out, the front of one was literally falling to the ground. It's a ghost neighborhood. Still, there are signs of recovery. Just a block away the street is lined with brand new condos and manicured lawns, with trendy restaurants and shops a short walk away. Detroit has definitely changed since 1967, and 1967 obviously changed Detroit. If you were in the city during the riots, or just before or after, how did they change you? Do you still live in the city, or did you join the many residents who fled?

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