Damned in Detroit
In the slums, buildings are vacant except for squatters. Gang tags and graffiti are on every available suface, the only new paint these buildings have seen in decades. Many buildings, even people’s homes, have broken windows covered with boards and plastic sheeting. The streets glitter with broken glass and garbage chokes the alleys. The only evidence of money is the pimps and drug dealers cruising around the ’hood in flashy cars with tinted windows. Most people don’t meet each others eyes, and they talk as little as possible as they try to avoid the notice of the young thugs swaggering about in gang colors. Boom boxes, screaming arguments, car alarms and the occasional gunshot provide the soundtrack of life in the ’hood.
Affluent residential neighborhoods hold their own inhumanity. Blocks of apartments and condominiums are built like fortresses. Anyone who can afford it lives in a gated community, behind high concrete walls topped with barbed wire or broken glass, and an armed guard at the gate. Just like a war zone, and isn’t that what it is? The very richest people live in luxurious penthouse suites or private, walled estates. Free from the dirt and grime of the next block over.
Strip away any trace of beauty or humanity from your image of the business districts. The skyscrapers are brutal monoliths faced with blank, featureless steel, stone, concrete or glass. At night, the streets are deserted except for the homeless, huddled on grates or in alleys. Away from the financial towers, some businesses stay open late: bars, strip clubs, nightclubs and X-rated video parlors, with the occasional convenience store or gas station.
The industrial district is a barren wasteland of crumbling brick, concrete factories and warehouses. Most of the industries shut down long ago, leaving towering machines to rust and collapse onto poison-soaked dirt or asphalt.
Now and then, one comes across relics of a more gracious past, or at least a past with more ornamental tastes. An old church might nestled in between grim office blocks, stained glass and carved stone all the more astonishing by the contrast. Older retail blocks still show fancy brickwork and molded concrete, albeit grimy and eroded by time and neglect…