Thursday, April 23, 2009
REQUIEM FOR A CITY
Kevin Boyle, one of the great historians of his generation (his book, Arc of Justice, won the National Book Award in 2004), is also a native Detroiter and a true Rustbelt Intellectual. He grew up on Chatsworth Street, on the city's East Side during the 1960s and 1970s, and witnessed the dramatic racial and economic transformations that left Detroit--and so many other cities like it--ravaged by disinvestment.
In this moving article, Boyle revisits his childhood neighborhood where today, you can buy a single-family detached house for about $5,000 more than what his parents paid nearly fifty years ago. Boyle offers a subtle reflection on the intersection between memory and history. It's one of the most powerful, personal meditations on urban change that I have read--and a rare one that evokes childhood memories without slipping into maudlin nostalgia.