I drove through the worst parts of Detroit, Michigan. This is what I saw.
- Published on Aug 15, 2019
- Wow! Detroit has some really crazy areas! We begin our journey in Detroit on M102. No, that’s not a radio station. That’s 8 mile road.
We drove down 8 mile road on our way into Detroit. 8 mile road is north of Detroit, about 8 miles north of downtown.
Along the way, we saw many shuttered businesses, and other downtrodden sights.
Of course, 8 mile was made famous by the movie 8 mile, starring Eminem.
8 Mile Road has also always been the physical and cultural dividing line between the wealthier, predominantly white northern suburbs of Detroit and the poorer, predominantly black city.
You can see on this map exactly what I’m referring to. As we drive, heading west, on our left is the black population, where people earn about $30k a year, and on our right is the white population where people earn about $75k a year
Then, we left 8 mile road and hopped onto 75 South to head into Detroit proper..
We got off the 75 South at Grand Avenue and headed west. We read online that an area near Rosa Parks Blvd was particularly bad, so we went there first. As it turned out, this wasn’t even the worst area we would see.
At this point, we were 4 miles from downtown. For perspective you can see on this map where we were. The homes here were in pretty bad shape, but like what we had seen in Flint about two hours earlier, in many of these downtrodded neighborhoods, people were not outside. The streets were just eerily empty.
Did you know Detroit has lost ⅔ of its population?
I’ve been to east Cleveland once. That was really bad.
But in East Cleveland, at least they had houses, not just open spaces.
Detroit has lost 1.2 million people in the last 70 years. Of course, that’s because of the auto industry decline, mostly. That’s pretty common knowledge.
In the neighborhood we were in, rent was about $450 a month for the entire house. You can see why.
Now, we’re going to let this go for a minute or two and then take you to the worst area we saw that morning.
So we left that neighborhood and took Linwood, one of the really bad thoroughfares in Detroit. We wanted to go to the Northwest Goldberg neighborhood, which we read was one of the worst in the city.
Of course, Detroit has issues with crime and poverty. One in three people in Detroit lives in poverty. In 1950, 82% of Detroit was white. Now, it’s 82% black. And, of the top 12 employers in Detroit, all but 2 are government jobs. Meaning there’s not a lot of private enterprise here.
Of course, people talk of a Detroit resurgence. While the downtown area itself is improving and adding jobs, the outlying areas like this haven’t even been touched. And apparently, there are businesses who want to grow in Detroit, but they can’t find people who are either motivated or skilled to take those jobs. So the city is actively trying to recruit skilled people to the city, offering tax breaks and cheap housing.
But progress is progress, and there’s an air of hope and optimism among some Detroit folks. Mostly in areas not close to this.
For perspective here’s a map that shows where we are from downtown. We’re even closer to downtown and it’s really abandoned as we’ll see.
Now this neighborhood wasn’t really dangerous - at least we didn’t see any people lingering and never felt threatened. So whoever actually lives in this neighborhood was either hiding inside, sleeping or not home. Sometimes, you’d see a guy on a bike or a few people on their porch, but that was it.
But it was really interesting to see block after block where you would see large areas where homes were razed, and the city was essentially turning parts of the city back to nature. It’s an...urban prairie. The homes left are mostly gutted or have some sort of fire damage. Some of the alleys looked like hiking trails.
But it isn't scary. That’s because it’s early in the day, we can see, and we’re driving in a car that looks like an undercover cop car. So people are giving us a wide berth.
Now, we’re going to let this video just roll. We have about 15 minutes more of just footage, where we looked at different areas of Detroit - all on the city’s northwest end. For the most part, these areas were run down, but occasionally, as you’ll see there are small areas that aren’t too bad.
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