Friday, February 24, 2006

Detroit's Wild Kingdom

Apparently there are inner-city areas in Detroit that are being reclaimed by nature, because homes and entire neighbourhoods have been abandoned for years. As they get torn down or gutted (but not replaced), trees take over. Neglected and empty skyscrapers and buildings downtown have trees growing on roofs and pigeons taking over inside. The images are truly striking:Meanwhile, the suburbs and exurbs keep growing and sprawling out away from the city -- and all the people moving/living out there have to drive to get anywhere. There's something so Mad Max about this story, but the apocalypse seems to be happening so slowly.


Anonymous said...

One of the only times I remember my father showing visible fear was driving through night-time Detroit in the 70's, en route from Toronto to Florida for spring break. The scene from my window looked like a post-apocalyptic nightmare- it was all concrete and the people looked scary, desperate and afraid.

Now the people are gone (where did the poor people go? are there new slums in the 'burbs?) and wildlife is returning. Strangely, despite the obvious decay, it looks like a better place to live now.

I just finished reading a book on ecological gardens and while it's focus is purely on what homeowners can do in their city and suburban lots, these principals could be applied to our city public spaces as well.

I wonder if the result would be a city more truly accomodating to the human spirit. If we don't make space for what's wild, do we become feral? (Of course, concrete wasn't the source of Detroit's problems...decent housing, meaningful work, and opportunities for culture and recreation etc are rather important too.)

Jeremy said...

Thanks for the note, Keira -- always great to hear from you.

The feeling you're recalling here is exactly how I felt on one late-night trip through Chicago -- I don't know if we were in actual danger, but it sure felt like it. We somehow got off the freeway and couldn't find our way back, and eventually we somehow ended up driving (literally) into O'Hare Airport. There were four lanes with no exits and they just led right into the giant concrete structure as if the traffic engineers were suggesting that everyone should just abandon their vehicles and catch the next flight out.

The book sound great -- I'm sure Tannis will gobble it up when I pass on the recommendation...that's right up her alley right now.

You'd hope that those emptied areas in Detroit would become more desirable again as places to live. But perhaps if the downtown is hell, living so close to it isn't exactly ideal.

Jeremy said...

Oh, too funny, Keira. I just followed the link and it's one that Tannis has had from the library several times in the last few months. What kind of parallel paths are we on, anyway?
: )

Anonymous said...

We're so overdue for a real-life meet-up. I think Tannis and I might be able to share some mom-blogging tales as well, judging by the tag-line on To be fair she does way better than me and I've only got the one kid disrupting my attention. We'll see how I do know that I've made it a professional committment.

Jeremy said...

Agreed -- we're overdue.

Tannis said...

Superbia! ( is a book along these lines that I enjoyed reading as well. It's one vision for how to transform the current suburbs into a landscape people can actually live in and on.

It's probably time for me to buy Gaia's Garden, I've had it out so many times and still want it for reference for Spring.

Anonymous said...

the only reason yall so scary is because yall white! yall got a good reason to be scared look at what did to us. yall should be scared of us