Two NY Times pieces, each of which offers a different take on shifts within Rust Belt cities in recent years. I read this Alex Kotlowitz piece on condemned buildings in Cleveland earlier in the month and was devastated by the picture it painted — one of confused institutions and urban collapse, in which abandoned neighborhoods deteriorated rapidly.
One can look at this Toby Barlow op-ed on artists seeking remarkably cheap housing in Detroit [via Waxy] as the flipside of that, then.
When Jimenez arrived in Cleveland, he learned that the house had been vacant for two years; scavengers had torn apart the walls to get the copper piping, ripped the sinks from the walls and removed the boiler from the basement. He also learned that the city had condemned the house and would now charge him to demolish it. Brancatelli asked Jimenez, What were you thinking, buying a house unseen, from 2,000 miles away? “It was cheap,” Jimenez shrugged.
Detroit right now is just this vast, enormous canvas where anything imaginable can be accomplished.
All of which makes me wonder: are these two different viewpoints on nearly identical conditions? Or is there something inherent to Detroit that allows for optimism while Cleveland slides into disrepair? After reading Barlow’s piece, I’m left feeling somewhat inspired — but I’d also really like to know what makes a $1,000 house in Detroit a source of inspiration even as a $1,000 house in Cleveland is a source of despair.