Detroit became, yesterday, the biggest American city to file for bankruptcy, capping a decades-long decline for the Motor City. There are questions, today, about how this happened — and what will happened next. A recent crop of excellent books about Detroit has grappled with precisely these issues. Below, some of the best titles on the tragedy of Detroit, as well as its hopes of renewal.
Detroit City Is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis, Mark Binelli
Binelli is a Detroit native who is now a staffer at Rolling Stone. He returns to the bustling city of his youth to find empty lots and abandoned houses. But, in a departure from the common narrative about Detroit, Binelli sees renewal all about him. Moreover, not all hope springs from vegan cupcake bakeries. He makes a smart argument for a city that is forward-looking and inclusive.
The Ruins of Detroit, Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre
Beautiful, haunting, unreal — and expensive, too, though this book is easily worth $80 dollars. The two French photographers spent five years photographing Detroit, from 2005 to 20010, and the results are as revealing as any words you're likely to read on a page. From the hollowed-out Michigan Central Station (right, on cover of book) to dilapidated Victorian houses, these photographs are suffused with tragedy.