The average price of a home in Detroit is $15,000!

Given the Big Three’s difficulties it’s not surprising that Detroit is ailing, but the extent of the pain is incredible:

• The population has shrunk from 2 million in 1950 to less than 1 million today
• The average price of a house has shrunk from $98,000 in 2003 to $15,000 in October 2009
• The unemployment rate is 28% and the city faces a $300 million budget deficit

The end may not be nigh – other cities which have faced similar challenges such as Berlin (Germany) are starting to thrive again as extremely low living costs have attracted students and an art community which have given the city a cool edge. There are embryonic signs of a similar revival in Detroit but with 800,000 people spread over 140 square miles served by a city with a shrinking tax base and little viable industry (and no federal government like Berlin to soften the blow), the city faces long odds.

With little to lose, the city is becoming a laboratory. I hope the American entrepreneurial spirit unleashed by opportunity will stem and reverse the decline!

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  • Je me dis que si l’automobile US était née par exemple en Californie, en Floride ou en Nouvelle Angleterre etc. tout aurait été différent. Cette industrie aurait pu alors attirer des talents en masse et dominer le marché mondial (who wants to move to Detroit ?).

  • Those stats are sobering. I was in Detroit for the final four last year and many times tickets were going for more than a house. It was bad.

    The Telegraph had an interesting story, http://bit.ly/1dG0y, about an experiment in Flint, MI where they are bulldozing vacant housing to turn the land back to nature/shrink the area that gov’t services have to cover and I blogged about it back in July http://bit.ly/4NfNL2. I’d love to see some goverment+private money go toward similar experiments in other rust belt cities.

    Here’s an amazing slideshow of photos called the ruins of Detroit: http://bit.ly/16CJdt

    I have my doubts about Detroit proper being reinvigorated. The weather is bad (and that’s from someone from Wisconsin), there is endemic crime and the rule of law is starting to break down. When I was there, I was almost rear ended multiple times when I stopped at flashing red traffic lights by people who were planning on going straight through. People drove 80+ one the highway in 55 zones and no cops were in sight.

    I talked to people who lived in the surrounding suburbs (which are fairly nice) who hadn’t been to downtown Detroit more than 10 times in 30 years of living there. Anyone who can afford to leave is moving out of state. I’m hopeful, but don’t see a rejuvenation anytime soon.