Every Thanksgiving, households across America watch a football game being played in Detroit. Detroit is a symbol of Thanksgiving almost as much as it is a symbol of America. Some of the country’s greatest innovators set roots in its fertile ground: Thomas Edison, Rosa Parks, Henry Ford; and some of the greatest innovations sprouted forth. But what was once the fastest growing city in the US in now the fastest shrinking. As explore.org founder Charlie Annenberg asks in the short film “Detroit – The Renaissance of America”, an exploration through the streets of Detroit, “Where is everyone?”
Where there was once a vibrant neighborhood, all that remains are bombed out shells of buildings. Boston Edison is a veritable ghost town, but the area exemplifies the city as a whole. Once the fourth most populated city in America, Detroit is now one-third vacant. The saying used to go, “What’s good for General Motors is good for America” but decades of economic hardships, outsourcing, and layoffs has led to abandonment by many and social strife for those who remained.
In “Detroit” Charlie Annenberg walks through neighborhoods one block at a time, talking with people who live there. They all express a kind of sorrow, but a hope for a better future. There’s Tyree Guyton, an artist who hopes to bring life to city with large scale art projects, his attempt to revive Detroit’s soul. Yusef Shakur, a former gang member who turned his life around and inspires others to do the same. And Reverend Randolf who sees a future in small scale urban gardens. All rebirth from Detroit’s decay. A true Renaissance in the making. Watch the short film below and check out our selection of photography from Detroit: