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Old 10-05-2016, 04:43 AM
 
27 posts, read 25,055 times
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Hey all! i was curious on what detroit was like in the 70's, 80's, and 90's. does any one have photos or video footages? were there still alot of abandoned houses back in those days? was crime still high? what was the demographic change like back then? Did the city lomits of detroit still have a large polish and italian population? if you guy can answer this question, i would really love it because i'm really interested in detroit.
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Old 10-05-2016, 02:50 PM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
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No photos, but I was at Wayne State from 1981 - 1985.

the area around WSU was very rough. You did not leave campus on foot except to go to the library or DIA. There was a lot of crime on and around campus until they put in the blue phone system (or maybe they just fixed it). When we started, at orientation, they told us to carry $40, no more and no less. They said if we got mugged, $40 would be enough to satisfy the robbers so they would not hurt us. However it was not so much the loss of it would break us. There were several areas you did not want to walk through. We would sometimes go down to greektown after school for dinner, parking was difficult so I would run from WSU to Greektown. You did not want to walk because you would be hassled, but if you ran no one really bothered me. There were some burned out buildings which I was told had not been torn down since the 1960s riots. No idea if that was true.

I was a small town boy who knew more about horses and fixing tractors than I knew about Detroit, so It may have seemed worse to me than it really was. However I was pretty big and working on a black belt, but I was pretty nervous aruond campus at night. I was usually the only person around if I was there after dark - at least once I went a different direction that whomever I had stayed late with.

As far as I remember, there was one place to eat/drink in the mid-town area other than the WSU cafeteria. It was called "Saloon" I think it was Circa Saloon, but the sign just said Saloon. A lot of the WSU classes and offices were n really cold old houses or apartment buildings that were pretty run down.

Our carpool group had batteries stolen from our cars seven times over four years. It was just something you dealt with. If you were there late, you called WSU security to walk you to your car (regardless of your gender/size/armament). Very few people lived in the dorms, mostly students form other countries. The dorm residents encountered quite a bit of bad crime (muggings, rape, etc).

One day while eating lunch outside in the commons, a phlanx of police came charging through in full riot gear with clear shields in front of them. I never did find out what was going on.

The was an itinerant preacher "Pastor Jim" who came to campus every year. He would preach hell and brimstone and crowds would gather because he was entertaining. The WSU spiritual counselor (a priest) would come out and debate pastor Jim and everyone would cheer his points. Pastor Jim got creamed.

One year Pastor Jim came and preached that every female student at WSU was a ***** and every male student was a pusher and a pimp. The students picked him up and carried him all the way to the Detroit river (2 miles) and threw him in.

I drove a friend home one night after Debate practice. He lived a mile or two from campus. When I dropped him off, he suddenly got very nervous and apologized. He said he realized I should not be in that neighborhood at night because i am white. He told me not to stop at stop signs or lights or I might get dragged from my car, beaten and robbed. He said if the police pull me over, I should not pull over but drive to a police station. I am not sure whether he was exaggerating, but it scared me enough I zipped though all the stop signs and lights until I got to the freeway.

Race relations were not good. I dated a black woman for a time and we got a lot of really nasty comments from both black and white people. I had a handful of Black friends and there was some social mixing in certain circles, but for the most part the other students stayed pretty segregated and hung out in different areas.

There was really nothing to do around WSU campus. Between classes we studied, played Euchre or threw paper airplanes and tried to stick them into the cieling of the student center (there were thousands of them stuck in the cieling). At night we went to a couple of bars on the river (River Rock Tavern I think), or went to Punk rocker bars in Hamtramack.
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Old 10-05-2016, 03:57 PM
 
Location: n/a
1,189 posts, read 853,624 times
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6icZ105lT7g
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Old 10-05-2016, 07:17 PM
 
Location: Michigan
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Detroit during the 1970s (and a little bit of the 60s).


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7Y9rcjfi-k


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LNoRWHKovA


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6RlUsi_-ZA

1990 (skip to 3:00 for the news story).


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbsgLcV4o1k


Part 2.


Techno documentary filmed in 1996.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSX_r0u3uzE
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Old 10-05-2016, 10:13 PM
 
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Your question is unbelievably broad.

Detroit was a huge, huge, huge city.

To get an accurate answer to your question you could read the Wiki entry and for morein depth answers all of the books that have been written on Detroit.
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Old 10-05-2016, 10:27 PM
 
27 posts, read 25,055 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fubarbundy View Post
talk about a dramatic video!
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Old 10-06-2016, 05:48 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fubarbundy View Post
I had forgotten about young boys Inc. Supposedly if you wore a leather coat with sheepskin collars, they would mug you or kill you for it. I do not know if that was true. I could not afford a leather coat during that time anyway. I was working at $3.50 per hour and going to school full time.
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Old 10-06-2016, 06:26 AM
 
Location: Metro Detroit
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
No photos, but I was at Wayne State from 1981 - 1985.

the area around WSU was very rough. ... (redacted for length)
Thanks for this response. It was very interesting to read and very enlightening for someone who has only known the far nicer 2015-2016 version of the Cass/Midtown area. So often I've heard people here talk about how bad Detroit is, but whenever I visit I look around and see a city with a few more abandoned lots than most cities, but an otherwise typical old city. I've never felt unsafe in Midtown, day or night, but what I've seen of it has been a proverbial night and day difference from what you saw in the Early 80s.

It was an interesting read and I'm happy to see the city has come a long way. Has the revitalization been mostly post-recession or was it a long time coming through the 90s and 00s? What factors do you attribute the relative.. niceness or Midtown to?
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Old 10-06-2016, 11:47 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
27,749 posts, read 65,567,547 times
Reputation: 32915
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geo-Aggie View Post
Thanks for this response. It was very interesting to read and very enlightening for someone who has only known the far nicer 2015-2016 version of the Cass/Midtown area. So often I've heard people here talk about how bad Detroit is, but whenever I visit I look around and see a city with a few more abandoned lots than most cities, but an otherwise typical old city. I've never felt unsafe in Midtown, day or night, but what I've seen of it has been a proverbial night and day difference from what you saw in the Early 80s.

It was an interesting read and I'm happy to see the city has come a long way. Has the revitalization been mostly post-recession or was it a long time coming through the 90s and 00s? What factors do you attribute the relative.. niceness or Midtown to?
It is a night and day difference. The revitalization is outright amazing.

I left Michigan in 1988, but visited and saw bit of Detroit from time to time. I returned in 2005 and have worked downtown since 2007.

In 2007 the city was notably cleaner, fewer ruins, some more buildings and a few scattered restaurants here and there. It was really really empty. Shockingly empty. I did not feel unsafe or uncomfortable downtown or mid-town, just lonely. Brush park was still a mess and scary at times, but it was pretty empty too. Brush park may have gotten even worse than it was before I left.

Downtown was essentially empty. There was almost no one around except a few homeless people who would follow you around asking for money. I would frequently go for a walk for half an hour at night and never see anyone at all.

A few restaurants were busy during the Tiger games. Lions games seemed to have little impact, no real rush of people out walking around. I think their fans just go from car to stadium to car. Wings pretty much only occupied the Ren Cen and the area immediately around the arena. There were some newer chain restaurants and some new local ones as well, but not a lot. Some of them went out of business and some were replaced. Campus Martius was usually empty.

Beginning I think in about 2012, things started picking up a bit. Several new places to live had opened up (Fort Shelby, Book Cadillac, Broderick, Kales, and they were working on David Whitney). There were a few people wandering about at times. At night there were some groups of people who appeared to be just standing around talking with nothing to do. I commented here how much the City needed something for them to do, if it was going to keep the new residents and add more.

Steadily at first and then in a sort of explosion, several things seemed to happen all at once. Quicken seemed to explode with growth and hired a lot of young people who it encouraged to live downtown. Campus martius started coming to life with ice skating, food trucks, bands, eventually a beach. . . More and more residential opportunities opened up and Detroit went from being the butt of media jokes to the success story and the land of opportunity. From 2013 through 2016 130 new restaurants and bars opened up (no idea how many existing ones went under, but that is still and explosion of growth). The growth continued yer to year. More and more people around, more and more places to eat or drink and things to do, Campus Martius became more and more the center of the city rather than the Ren Cen.

There are a lot of factors at play. Getting past Kwame and the bankruptcy helped the city's image and budget a lot. The economic changes made a huge difference. In 2010, there were times I could spend 20 minutes walking around the Ren Cen and not encounter another human being. It was spooky. They had some conventions or events, but otherwise, it was very empty. As the economy recovered, both the ren cen and the downtown saw a lot of business growth, more and better attended conventions and events, better media coverage. Lots of little things contributed. The cruise ship port, completing river walk, the rise of slow roll, the shift from royal oak to downtown/mid-town for hipsters, the opening of new museums, Dan Gilbert started sponsoring events, food trucks etcetera at Campus Martius and that grew every year. One by one various buildings were refurbished and some of them were even occupied. The light rail plans made people hopeful. Some movies were filmed downtown and that helped with the image issues.

I do not get to mid-town as often, so the changes were more dramatic to me. When we returned, the WSU area was virtually unrecognizable. New buildings and a considerable number of new restaurants and bars. It was not vibrant, but there was some life, a few people here and there, but still not a lot of places to go/things to do. Like downtown, it trickled upward and occasionally downward until about 2012 then rose in a steady rate almost exploding in 2014 - 2016. For a time, Mid-town was clearly the nicest part of Detroit. Downtown has caught up and probably passed it this year IMO, but the changes in both areas are absolutely amazing.
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Old 10-06-2016, 12:18 PM
 
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I can't speak to Detroit specifically, but crime, especially in cities, was much higher nationwide in the late 20th Century. People who study this issue disagree about why today's cities are so much safer, but the stats are indisputable. Anecdotally, I also notice a big generation gap in attitudes toward cities between older people who experienced the Bad Old Days and younger people who did not.
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