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Postcard from Detroit

So, I'm roughly two weeks into reporting full-time here. The first month was spent setting up the bureau: Buying window treatments and fans (turns out their use was short-lived: it's cold), and my first washer and dryer (I didn't think to measure the space between the walls of the staircase leading into the basement, and picked a dryer that was too large.) and, basically, being a "domestic diva," as one of my editors jokingly called himself. Folks are curious about the house, and neighborhood. Below is the view from the bureau's window. Stay tuned for more details. And better photos.

The view from Time Inc.'s Detroit Bureau. Taken about 8:45a.m., Weds., Oct. 7, 2009.

The view from Time Inc.'s Detroit Bureau. Taken about 8:45a.m., Weds., Oct. 7, 2009.

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  • 1

    Cold? In a few months you'll consider this a heat wave!

  • 2

    I am curious as to whether or not you or any part of the Time team is nervous about revealing your exact location. I imagine that as with anything, especially a project as "progressive" and unique as this, there are people that are against it. Are their any issues or concerns with security?

  • 3

    Unrelated, but I'm curious if any of you are coming down to Cobo today to cover the homlessness stimulus money application mayhem...I haven't seen downtown so full of people and cars in the 3 years I've been here. One of those "This is Detroit" kinda moments that jumps out at me.

  • 4

    So welcome to America's Broken Heartland, ground-zero of the American recession. Detroit needs the attention of the nation's creative minds that's for sure. But as Time's own essays have made clear, the city's decline has been a long time in the making, even if people outside Michigan have only just noticed.
    Meanwhile the unemployment rate in suburban Macomb County is 18% and that's a breaking story. Until recently, the south-east Michigan suburbs formed a financially comfortable community where many people worked at jobs (white and blue-collar) in the car industry or businesses related to it. Now thousands of people who've been fiscally prudent their whole lives are facing a truly insecure and scary future.
    As jobs go, so do healthcare and pensions. And it ripples out from the unemployed autoworkers. School bus drivers and custodians are seeing their jobs privatized. Once affluent towns are threatening to close their libraries. Even dentists are working short weeks. Homes are not worth anything, so people can't move to parts of the country that still have jobs. We're not seeing any green shoots. Seriously, it's an economic bloodbath out here in the hinterland. Let's hope it doesn't take the country forty years to come check out the view from our window.

    • 4.1

      Ellis you're right on the mark! I've been trying to sell a condo in Shelby Township for over a year! I purchased the newly constructed unit six and one half years ago for $151,000. I'm asking $75,000, and I can't get a bite... Neither myself nor my realtor has any idea on how we're going to unload this real estate. Nothing is selling, and there are no jobs!
      In return our state legislature thinks that raising revenue (taxes) is the answer! You're right all of southeastern Michigan is in a bloodbath... Next year when Time sells their house at a loss, at least they will be write able to write it off since it technically is not a homestead... The rest of us are stuck!

  • 5

    I have some great solutions to Detroit's woes, but unfortunately they require investment, entrepreneurs, and effective capitalist enterprises, all of which have been effectively driven from most of Michigan. I should know. I live in northern Indiana where maybe hundreds of Michigan businesses have moved in the last ten years.

    Sadly, with socialists now firmly in power in Washington, there will be no place where business is not going to be taxed out of existence. There go a whole lot more jobs down the tubes or offshore. India and China are even beginning to look a whole lot more promising for business. They're headed for where we've been while we're headed for where they've been. Go figure.

  • 6

    Dear Steve, I am a transplant to the Detroit Metro Area. I work in the Franchise resturaunt industry. I would like to have a conversation with you about Detroit. Everyone has asked me why did I relocate here, to one of the most depressed areas of the country. Well simply put when all other oppertunities seem to just pass me by, I arrived here in the area in 2006 and landed one of the best jobs I ever had. Now I find myself struggling to keep that job and my main nemisis is this failing economy. I love the area and have taken a special interest in it. I could easily just leave like the rest, but l have never been a quiter. Somewhere the circle has been broken. The only thing that seems to be prevailing is the crime and unemployment. I hope what you are doing is successful and I support it 100%

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