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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Detroit - the city that won't quit

The super-modern Renaissance Center
(also known as the GM Renaissance Center and nicknamed the RenCen)
Photo: Roderick Eime
Detroit is a city that just won't quit.

Born in an exuberant Jazz-age burst in the 1920s, elegant downtown Detroit grew rapidly in line with the fast paced fortunes of the motor industry. Ford, General Motors, Chrysler and others fuelled this glorious period when magnificent Art Deco skyscrapers shot up like sunflowers in tandem with the sprawling industrial complexes like Ford's enormous Rouge plant.

The Great Depression of the '30s hit hard, but the Second World War revived its industrial might, earning Detroit the mantle: The Arsenal of Democracy.

From a peak population of almost two million in the '50s, Detroit has shrunk to around 700,000 today as a result of the changing fortunes of the auto industry and the introduction of automation to the existing facilities.

Greenfield Village is part of The Henry Ford's fascinating interpretive experience. (Supplied)
But Detroit won't be deterred. A massive urban rejuvenation and reinvention program is in place, readjusting the city to the needs of the 21st century. Visionary entrepreneurs like Dan Gilbert are adding their shoulder to the wheel to make Detroit relevant and vibrant in these challenging times.

Cars, American culture, gaming, music and sports are all part of this formula. Join Rod as he investigates this resilient metropolis and its plans for a bright new American future.

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