I get asked that question a lot at our store by people visiting from out-of-town. They don’t ask it in a cynical way; they ask it as though they stumbled upon an accident scene with plenty of victims.
What they are asking, in essence, is “what the hell happened to Detroit?”
Perhaps they’ve never been here before and the only images they’ve seen of the Ol’ Girl are on sugar-coated television broadcasts of sporting events. You know, the ones that make any city seem better than it really is.
Or perhaps they lived here at one time and remember a vibrant, bustling metropolis. Now they only see ruins and faint reminders of what was happily stored in their memories.
It’s pointless to deny that Detroit is a city in deep decay. But that doesn’t mean that magical things that happened here should ever be forgotten. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, Detroit was equivalent to today’s Silicon Valley. It was the home of American ingenuity and resourcefulness.
When a genius had a great idea to exploit, he came to Detroit to make his fortune. As a result, industry boomed and people came in droves. That trend began to reverse course in the mid 1950s and Detroit has been in decline ever since. Today, the city is a faint shadow of its former self.
If there is hope to be had in Detroit’s future, it most certainly can be found in its past. In this video clip, legendary Detroit Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell shares some of his memories of Detroit and of Tiger Stadium. It is a touching tribute to the incredible history that resides at the corner of Michigan & Trumbull. A place that currently stands at a crossroad between total destruction or historic preservation — much like the city in which it lives.