Detroit does not have the luxury of solving one problem at a time. It has been scarcely five years since the city emerged from the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. Yet the truest tale of what happened to the city — a majestic metropolis where good union wages and affordable single-family homes once lured people from around the world — begins decades ago.
Disinvestment, suburban sprawl, systemic racism: It has been nothing less than a bloodletting. Detroit is one of many shrinking American cities that have lost half or more of their peak population. To provide services across the same geography with diminishing tax revenue, leaders have turned to debt, austerity, bankruptcy and even, in Michigan’s case, suspended local democracy.