Time Inc. is wrapping up a giant yearlong journalism project called “Assignment Detroit,” which opened with a lengthy essay on the city’s history and plight. Locals felt there were few in-depth stories in the project about Detroit’s efforts to revitalize the region.
Detroit journalism educator and newspaper columnist Jack Lessenberry said it would have been more useful to bring in experts in urbanology to brainstorm ideas about how to fix or save it.
Detroit’s image as motor city is well known. In the auto boom after World War II. Detroit put the U.S. on wheels. Prosperity seemed as if it would go on forever—but it didn’t,
With the growing foreign competition, auto companies merged, folded, or moved out of town. Automation began replacing the auto workers still there. Workers from the South arrived looking for work in the lucrative auto industry, but with little education or training, they were willing to take any job they could get.
Much of the city’s middle class packed up and headed for the suburbs, leaving numerous neighborhoods suffering from urban decay, consisting of vacant properties. Vast areas were leveled for redevelopment projects that never materialized.
Detroit became a classic story about industrial decline and the struggle of urban areas for survival.
In the 1990s, the city began to turn around with much of the improvement centered in the Downtown, Midtown, and New Center areas. This new urban development in Detroit is part of the city’s effort to enhance its economy through tourism.
Comerica Tower at Detroit Center (1993) arose on the city skyline and two of the old historic hotels reopened after being closed for 20 years.
In the ensuing years, three casino resorts opened in Detroit, New downtown stadiums were constructed for the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Lions The city hosted the 2005 MLB All-Star Game, 2006 Super Bowl , 2006 World Series, and the NCAA Final Four in 2009, all of which prompted many improvements to the downtown area.
The city of Detroit has a rich musical heritage and the Motown Sound played an important role in helping the city suceed by crossing over into popular music.
The Detroit River Walk includes miles of parks and fountains. The history of Detroit is exhibited at The Henry Ford museum, the nation’s largest indoor-outdoor museum complex.
As Time Inc.’s final days with a full-time presence in Detroit end, reflection has begun.
The people outside of Detroit need to be shaken up about it. That’s a valuable thing to do,” Lessenberry said “The people here know of it full well…”