The city of Detroit, Michigan began life in 1701 as a French colonial town and by 1765 was the largest city between Montreal and New Orleans. Detroit subsequently passed to British rule, then to American, to British again and then back to the United States for the final time in 1813. It was incorporated as a city two years later. It was a wealthy city and fine mansions were built in the following years prompting the city to be called the Paris Of The West.
In 1903, the Ford Motor Company was founded and was soon followed by Dodge, Chrysler and others. Along with shipbuilding, Detroit’s automobile industry fuelled the city’s economy and it became the 4th biggest in the USA however with the rising population came social unrest and Detroit was caught in the middle of the civil rights movement. By the 1980s, Downtown Detroit began to experience large scale movement outwards to the suburban neighbourhoods and efforts to reverse the trend began in earnest in the 1990s.
With the coming of the global recession in the late 2000s, the number of people buying cars plummeted and the automotive industry in Detroit suffered greatly with companies like Ford, General Motors and Pontiac laying off thousands of workers causing the population to decline by 25%, dropping it from the 10th largest city in the USA to the 18th in just 10 years. The great auto factories became abandoned and as the workers moved on, so too did their houses.
Today Detroit suffers from unemployment, poverty and other social problems although there are large urban renewal projects ongoing. Sadly a number of neighbourhoods have become no-go zones with houses left derelict and abandoned, a virtual ghost town in some areas. Many of the city’s social problems have been documented by the rapper Eminem both in his music and in the movie 8 Mile, named after a road in the working class area of the city in which he was raised. The abandoned buildings have become hives of activity for crime and it is feared it will be many years before Detroit begins to recover.
Location: Detroit, Michigan, USA
Category: Ghost Town
Abandoned: From 2000 onwards