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.
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