As the night wears on, Charlie grows defensive, and almost defiant, about Detroit. He recounts everything it's done for the country, insists the city still matters and won't disappear, speculates about the potential for it to become a major port since "water is the new oil," and insists that Henry Ford is more important to history than Jesus Christ since "even Muslims drive Toyotas." At this, Patterson, a good Catholic boy, leans into my tape recorder, "That was Charlie. . . . When I go home tonight, I will make the sign of the cross and pray to Henry Ford."And then I got a heads up from a site I had posted at a couple of years ago which reminded me of a pictorial essay The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit.
Charlie heads for the restroom, and Patterson grows philosophical: "Detroit's history has gone the way of Rome and Athens and Constantinople. It is what history does. History moves on. And history has moved away from the Babylonian Empire. It moved away from Egypt. It be what it be. . . . I think Detroit sees itself in its rearview mirror. But Detroit will never again be where those other cities were, including Detroit."
Now all this is too fresh to be just an interesting ruin. It still hurts to see wealth turn into decay. Give it another 100 or 200 years and it will be an archaeological site and not the screaming pain of a city in its death throes. Civilization has moved on. Water ways are not so important for transporting industrial goods. The graft and political encrustations of Detroit are no longer supportable. Factories that were once state of the art are now too much overhead for changed technology. The layouts are wrong. The attitudes of the people are too hardened. Too much "this is the way it has always been done". So the last of the life is being sucked out of Detroit. It is sad. But we are too close. In a hundred years it will just be "interesting".
And on the pedestal these words appear:Cross Posted at Classical Values
'My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my works. Ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.