When Mark Binelli, a native of Detroit, and general assignment reporter, began work on a book about the city, one of his interview subjects asked him if the book was going to be fiction or non-fiction. "Non," Binelli replied. Binelli writes about the guy's reaction: "He snorted and said, 'No one's gonna believe it.'"
A large portion of Binelli's engaging book, Detroit City is the Place to Be
, covers the stuff that "no one's gonna believe." No one, for example, is likely to believe that a once thriving boomtown had gone into such utter and total ruin. Large swathes of empty land, horrendous crime rates, and unemployment if these issues are bad in urban areas around the country, they are much, much worse in Detroit. "If, once, Detroit had stood for the purest fulfillment of U.S. industry, it now represented America's most epic urban failure, the apotheosis of...
Beyond the Book
Even as Detroit City might be having a rejuvenation of sorts by attracting increasing numbers of artists, it is worth looking back to the Great Depression when a Mexican mural artist, Diego Rivera, created the city's most iconic art: the set of murals known as Detroit Industry.
Back in the early '30s Edsel Ford (son of Henry Ford) was an ardent supporter of the arts. When W.R. Valentiner, director of the Detroit Institute of Arts, suggested he commission some art for the museum, Ford decided he would like to capture the spirit of the city's industry through a series of murals for the museum's...