Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bearing Witness As Cities Die

Having lived in three of the nation’s most dangerous cities – Detroit, Baltimore and a short stint in Chicago – I’ve seen the remains of some once-great American metropolises. Outside of pockets (the north side of Chicago, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the small, surging sections of downtown Detroit among them), their better days were behind them by the time I came along. But I could see the shells of what once was.
Still, seeing the aftermath and living through the decline are two entirely different experiences. Until a time machine is invented, I never will fully know more than the second-hand stories echoing from the shells of these lost cities.
Hope springs eternal, though much slower as time passes. I’ve seen some rebirths in the midst of decline. But with each new story of a horrific crime or crazed city government initiative, a root is ripped from the future.
As I said, I’ve only seen these cities after they had passed their prime. My time wandering the hull of Michigan Central Station in Detroit in the middle of the night with friends never will replace the firsthand knowledge of living the spectrum from its glory days till now. 

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