That’s not to say that there are still things in Detroit that fit my initial, preconceived notions of the city shaped by the media. I mentioned earlier that Detroit used to be the fourth largest city in America. As many already know, in the latter half of the 20th century, the city faced a huge population decline as a result of the downturn of the US auto industry. Driving through the area where the Heidelberg Project was allowed me to see firsthand the blight that Detroit was infamous for: boarded-up, vacant homes mixed in with large swaths of empty lots with overgrown grass. Glancing up at the TV in the Wayne State gym, I see the latest story, which is titled, “8 murders in Detroit in 24 hours.” While it is very apparent that parts of the city are booming (especially in Midtown and Downtown, I see newly-built luxury lofts with establishments selling Poké bowls and avocado toast nestled between industrial-age buildings and converted Victorian mansions), many parts of the city are still in the state of urban blight that media has so widely depicted to the general public.
This is where I hope to come in. Detroit has definitely been rebounding, but this newfound prosperity has not been shared by all of its residents. Racial tensions and financial problems have plagued Detroit for decades, and the scars of these struggles are still visible today and have been key factors that have been holding the city back from rising even further. Striving to make advancement opportunities and new city amenities (like MoGo, the city’s new bike-sharing program I’m working with!) more accessible to all Detroiters, regardless of race or financial situation, will allow the city to rise even more dramatically. I also hope to talk to more locals, especially those who were around during the toughest times, because it really gives you a unique perspective of the city. After talking with some already, I’ve realized that I don’t like calling Detroit’s current situation a “comeback” anymore. One of the people I met at a MoGo community event told me something that really stuck with me, “Detroit isn’t coming back. Detroit was always there!”, once again demonstrating the resilience and pride held by the people of this unique city.