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Detroit is not disappearing anytime soon. At 1.03 million residents, it is the 11th-largest city in the country, larger than San Francisco, Boston, or Seattle. The current downturn in the fortunes of the automobile industry is a hard blow, of course, and it’s difficult to be sanguine about a comeback for the city, unless you are the sort of urban booster who sees the construction of casinos as a harbinger of urban renaissance-I’m not. On the other hand, some of the large empty downtown buildings are being refurbished, like the old Fort Shelby Hotel (right), a 1916 building, with a high-rise extension by Kahn, which was reopened last year after standing empty for 30 years. Also, here and there, one sees smaller examples of urban enterprise: a renovated storefront, a club, a restaurant. Not exactly a hotbed of the creative class (which prefers warm climates, anyway) but something. If cities were movie characters, Detroit would be Mickey Rourke’s Randy “The Ram” Robinson.

Down, but not out.

CLICK HERE to view the slideshow of beautiful architectural ruin in Detroit.

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