While it’s sad to see Detroit forced to seek bankruptcy protection, it’s not exactly a surprise either. If anything positive is to be made of the situation, it’s that the city is now a case study in how not to adapt to changing times and realities.
In a nutshell, the Motor City is in dire straits precisely because it couldn’t stop being the Motor City - it couldn’t diversify its economy from auto manufacturing fast enough, thereby leading to a steady, decades-long exodus of the population. As the people left, so did the tax base and so did the services. If there’s a better example of resultant urban decay, it’s hard to find.
Detroit could have escaped its present fate had it emulated Pittsburgh. The two cities used to be joined at the figurative hip, with one supplying the steel needed by the other. Pittsburgh officials, however, saw the writing on the wall a long time ago and smartly moved to diversify their economy. The “Steel City” is now hardly anything but; it’s a medical, financial and even robotics centre, with one of the healthiest economies in the United States to show for it. Read the rest of this entry »