The Devolution Of Detroit, 1950-2010, In Maps and Charts

In 1950, Detroit was booming, Kristopher Morison and Richard Johnson write in the introduction to their decade-by-decade graphic examination of the city's transformation. 

The Motor City had a thriving auto industry, more than 1,800,000 citizens and in less than 10 years would be the home of Motown. 

It was America’s fifth-largest city and appeared to herald a new social order. “In the 1950s, social scientists and journalists held up the auto industry as an example of the end of class conflict in America,” wrote Thomas Sugrue, professor of history and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania in an essay.

 “They argued that auto workers, who enjoyed hefty paychecks and good benefits, had become ‘embourgeoised’ — that is, they had entered the ranks of the middle class.” 

Metro Detroiters know the rest of the story. Jobs, people and capital began leaving for the suburbs and beyond; the 1967 riot broke out; the auto industry decentralized; and abandonment became a vicious circle -- the more people left, the more homes and businesses became abandoned and the less tax revenue was available to deal with the abandonment, which forced more people to leave. 

Click on the link to see the changes represented by bar graphs, maps and numbers.  

Read more:  National Post

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