Detroit Is Not Dead: Meet Some Of The 701,475 People Who Call The City Home (PHOTOS)

July 28, 2013 1:28 pm 0 comments Views: 486

For Detroiters, it’s both a blessing and a curse. While it’s a relief that some have started to pay attention to the countless problems that often make daily life an uphill battle, how Detroit is portrayed by outsiders can be disheartening: pictures of abandoned buildings stand in for the people who pass by them each day; headlines blare that the Motor City is out of gas, dead or even hell on earth.

We’re not trying to say that Detroit isn’t in trouble — no matter what some say, things like startups, a billionaire’s investments and community gardens won’t “save” the city, which faces abysmal city services, has pervasive crime, continues to lose population and boasts an abandoned city structure for every 10 residents. But there are still 701,475 people who call Detroit home, more than Seattle, Boston, Las Vegas or DC. They’re striving, struggling and succeeding; they’re full of hope and determination, joy and sadness; and they deserve a second look.

Because while Detroit does look like this…

detroit abandoned

Photo by Carlos Osorio/AP.

…it also looks like this.

detroit is like this

Flickr photos of the historic Indian Village neighborhood and the Lafayette Park Towers designed by Mies Van der Rohe by gab482 and BakerH.

And yes, downtown streets are sometimes empty…


Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.

…but other times, they’re not.

detroit looks like this

Photo Carlos Osorio/AP.

detroit looks like this

Flickr photo by the Knight Foundation.

Sometimes, it’s easy to feel downtrodden…

detroit looks like this

Photo by Carlos Osorio/AP.

…but Detroit is still overflowing with love.

detroit looks like this

Photos by Adam Sparkes and Kristin Shaw.

Some of its stores remain empty…

detroit storefront

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.

…but others are opening their doors.

detroit looks like this

Flickr photo by Dig Downtown Detroit.

detroit looks like this

Photo courtesy of Shinola.

Some parks have been neglected by the city…

detroit looks like this

Flickr photo by angelariel65.

…but others are beautiful and full of children playing…

detroit looks like this

Getty Images / Flickr photo by the Knight Foundation.

…often because of volunteers who work to maintain them.

detroit looks like this

Mower Gang volunteers adopt Detroit parks and keep grass them free of grass in the spring and summer. Volunteers clean up Romanowski Park. Photos by Paul Sancya/AP and The 313 Project.

Detroit has large swaths of empty land…

detroit decline

Photo by Paul Sancya/AP.

…but still makes use of small spaces.

detroit looks like this

Photo of beach at downtown Campus Martius courtesy of Rock Ventures; Flickr photo by Michigan Municipal League.

Some graffiti shouts despair…

detroit grafitti

Photo by J.D. Pooley/Getty Images.

…but many murals offer messages of hope.

detroit looks like this

On the day Detroit declared bankruptcy, Detroiters spray painted their names and those of past residents to form the words “We are Detroit” for a mural by artist icon. Photos courtesy Mike Han/Street Culture Mash.

Detroit might be the Motor City…

detroit traffic

Photo by J.D. Pooley/Getty Images.

…but it still knows how to get around on two wheels (or three).

detroit looks like this

Photos by Ara Howrani/Howrani Studios; Instagram user monicaardith.

Some schools close…

detroit abandoned school

Flickr photo by nitram242.

…but students still make astounding achievements.

detroit looks like this

Detroit Public Schools’ Martin Luther King High School marching band performs at the London 2012 Summer Olympics. Photo by Luke Callow.

Detroit manufacturing still depends on the Big Three…

chrysler detroit

Photo by Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images.

…but it’s also evolving.

detroit looks like this

An employee uses a hammer and an anvil to hammer in copper rivets on a pair of denim jeans at Detroit Denim. Photo by Ty Wright/Bloomberg/Getty Images.

Some of Detroit’s former treasures have fallen into disrepair…

detroit looks like this

Flickr photo by Rick Harris.

…but others are vibrant and cherished.

guardian building detroit

Photos by Getty Images; Flickr user by Dig Downtown Detroit.

While landmarks are sometimes destroyed…

detroit looks like this

Flickr photo of old Cass Tech by Dave Hogg.

…Detroiters still care about preserving their history.


A group works to protect and celebrate the 127-year-old log cabin at Palmer Park. Photo by Ashley Woods.

There are frequent setbacks…

tyree guyton

Tyree Guyton, creator of the Detroit art park the Heidelberg Project, walks through one of the house installations that was destroyed by a fire. Photo by Paul Sancya/AP.

…but Detroiters don’t get knocked down for good. Instead, they rebuild.

detroit looks like this

“This is the real world, and I think as an artist I have to make the best of it. … I have to be an optimist and turn it into gold. … You need to rise above the hate.” Guyton said. Photo by Carlos Osorio/AP.

In this city, there are disheartening reminders of decline…

detroit streetlight

Photo by Carlos Osorio/AP.

…and constant flashes of innovation and beauty.

detroit looks like this

Photos courtesy Sit On It Detroit, a group that creates benches (many that double as small libraries) using reclaimed wood from abandoned houses for bus stops without seating, and Dana Miles Frost’s image of work from the InsideIOut Program, which installs reproductions of masterpieces in its collection in public places around Metro Detroit.

Detroiters are creative…

detroit creative

Photo by Jeff Wegner.

detroit hopscotch

Photo by Marissa Gawel courtesy Hopscotch Detroit.


detroit looks like this

Photo by Todd Davis.

detroit strong

Flickr photo by healthiermi.


detroit martin luther king

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.

southwest detroit

Photo by Todd Davis.

detroit looks like this

Photo by Kate Abbey-Lambertz.


detroit looks like this

Photo by Thomas Lawrence.



Blight Busters volunteers help paint a boarded up building. Photo by Fabrizio Costantini/Bloomberg via Getty Images.



Flickr photo by the Knight Foundation.



Photo by Kate Abbey-Lambertz.


Photo by Paul Warner/Getty Images

and, always, determinedly proud.

ara howrani detroit photographer

Photo by Ara Howrani/Howrani Studios.


Photo by Kate Abbey-Lambertz.

So while the city has shrunk by half in the last 40 years…

desolate detroit

Photo by Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images.

…there are still 701,475 residents who call Detroit home.

pure detroit

Photo courtesy of Pure Detroit.

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