There's a lot of parts of Detroit that really aren't too shabby. There's even some population growth in some spots - a bit of a revitalization. However, in it's worst spots, it's close to being as bad as advertised.
I don't visit the east side very often, but we decided to stop by a few weeks ago. One of the stranger things to witness is the stark contrast between east side Detroit and Grosse Pointe, which borders Detroit directly. It's actually kind of unbelievable. You can go from one road, appearing bombed out and abandoned, cross over the Alter Rd. intersection, hang a right, and bam, suddenly everything's normal again. It's like the Berlin Wall. Grosse Pointe even closed off roads leading from Detroit and turned them into culdesacs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asr5LR1TU_8
The Detroit road in that video isn't even in that terrible of condition compared to others. Many are beyond disrepair and might as well be dirt. And there's garbage just strewn along the side, including boats.
The emergency manager takes over in the next two weeks. The city council really has no clue how to run a city. If you have ever been to Detroit and seen how many businesses set up shop there and how much they pay in taxes there is no way in hell Detroit should be in debt like they are. As far as gangs go Camden,NJ and surrounding Detroit ghettos are the only places I won't step out of my car in.
I'll be interested to see what happens once the emergency manager takes over. The things occurring within the Detroit City Council was both laughable and unbelievable.
From a New York Times piece:
The state review team found in recent months that the city’s main courthouse had $280 million worth of uncollected fines and fees. No one could tell the team how many police officers were patrolling the streets, even though public safety accounted for a little more than half the budget. The city was borrowing from restricted funds and keeping unclaimed property that it was required to turn over to the state. In some city departments, records were “basically stuff written on index cards,” as one City Council member put it.
Detroit cannot even seem to make correct decisions on the easy and small stuff. For instance, they have a wonderful island (Belle Isle) that's been in disrepair for years. Basically, the city of Detroit just cannot afford to upkeep the isle itself. The state of Michigan offered to help the Isle via lease, where they'd possibly turn Belle Isle into a state park, charge $10 per year for entry and make all the necessary improvements needed.
However, Detroit's council didn't like the idea of thinking Belle Isle wouldn't be completely theirs anymore, because they'd be leasing it to the state. The potential savings, had Detroit opted to lease, could have been $6 million per year. Instead, the council bickered, stunted, and stalled until eventually, the state realized it'd be best to remove their offer. Sad...