November 28, 2008

The Lost City of Detroit

Some years ago, I worked part-time for a small Colorado Springs public-relations agency whose head had bailed out of p.r. work in Detroit in the late 1970s. That was prescient of him, given the state of the auto industry today.

On the other hand, perhaps Detroit could become a national park for urban explorers. Its four-footed and feathered wildlife is already increasing.

Whole neighborhood blocks cleared of houses by arson and bulldozers have reverted to urban prairies, visible in satellite photos as unusually large green patches in the middle of the inner city. Sidewalks vanish beneath creeping grasses, while aluminum fences between homes become entwined with the branches of dozens of saplings growing as high as the droopy utility wires. . . .

I encountered [a peregrine falcon] on an upper-floor fire escape of the Book Building a while back. It startled me by squawking loudly at me while perched a few feet away, staring intently at me, long enough to snap a photo of it before it flew off with slow, heavy flaps of its large wings, flying towards the abandoned Fort Shelby Hotel, itself the site of a turkey vulture’s nest this year, sharing roof space with several large trees.

(Via Mike-istan.)

UPDATE: I had not realized that a whole blogging genre is evolving around the "lost city" motif. Here is another.


Andrew Oh-Willeke said...

The falcon isn't that surprising. My kid's story book "Wild in the City" notes that it is a fairly common urban transplant. The vegetation is another matter, however.

Anonymous said...

A number of bloggers have been commenting on the decline of Detroit lately.

Having spent my first 20 years there, I have mixed feelings about it. (Forgotten Detroit and the Fabulous Ruins of Detroit are a couple of interesting sites chronicling the decline.)

A great many of the places I knew as a young person have simply disappeared including the 3 homes I lived in, my school, church, stores, theatres, shops, factories, etc.

I really can't go home again.