Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Detriot: the first post-industrial US city

Brilliant, brilliant documentary about the US city of Detroit; famous for car production and Motown and now the first post-industrial US city. The city was built for 2 million people and run by the motor-Oligarchs like Henry Ford as a monoculture city. But when the motor industry failed, so the city failed - economic crashes, globalisation and dugs wars creating a 'slow motion Katrina'. Haunting images of factories being reclaimed by natures, burning cities and people turning the former factories back into farmland as the land goes into full circle:

Julien Temple's new film is a vivid evocation of an apocalyptic vision: a slow-motion Katrina that has had many more victims. Detroit was once America's fourth largest city.

Built by the car for the car, with its groundbreaking suburbs, freeways and shopping centres, it was the embodiment of the American dream.

But its intense race riots brought the army into the city. With violent union struggles against the fierce resistance of Henry Ford and the Big Three, it was also the scene of American nightmares.

Now it is truly a dystopic post-industrial city, in which 40 per cent of the land in the centre is returning to prairie. Greenery grows up through abandoned office blocks, houses and collapsing car plants, and swallows up street lights.

Police stations and post offices have been left with papers on the desks like the Marie Celeste. There is no more rush hour on what were the first freeways in America. Crime, vandalism, arson and dog fighting are the main activities in once the largest building in North America. But it's also a source of hope.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The 'Shrinking Cities' project run out of the German culture office or the equivilient produced a couple of great reports on Detroit available here: