'Anatomy of Detroit's Decline,' By The New York Times, Dissects The City's Tailspin

December 27, 2013, 9:00 AM

In perhaps the most elaborate treatment by an outside media organization of Detroit's big story for 2013, The New York Times has produced an interactive feature on its web site that tracks the city's decline from industrial powerhouse to its filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy this year.

The feature was posted earlier this month but received little attention locally.

The Times identifies five main causes that sent the city into its decades-long tailspin: Reliance on a single industry, racial tensions, shortcomings of leadership, lack of an efficient transit system and the impact of poverty. 

"In a matter of decades, Detroit went from one of America’s most prosperous cities to one of its most distressed," the paper said in the introduction.

Included are links to past articles in the Times, including obituaries of mayors Charles Bowles, the only mayor ever recalled and probably the only one who enjoyed support from the Ku Klux Klan;  Albert Cobo; Edward Jeffries and Coleman Young.

In describing Detroit's woeful public transportation system, the Times notes the customers who use the buses are mainly the poor.

"Without an efficient mode of transportation over the past few decades, blacks and whites didn’t travel side by side as they did in other cities, a missed opportunity to ease racial tensions," said Kevin Boyle, the Northwestern University historian and Detroit native who has written extensively about the city.

"It makes a difference that you have to sit in a subway car or a bus with people who are of different races and different ethnicities, different ages different classes," he said. "It creates a sense of connection, even if it’s just a superficial one."

Read more:  The New York Times

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