Chris Hansen traveled to Detroit, Michigan for a Dateline special that aired tonight on the state of what is probably America's most desolate city. And in aerial footage—devastation porn at its best—Detroit's grim plight was revealed.
"Today, from the air, parts of Detroit look like a war zone," Hansen said in a voice over near the beginning of the special, before he listed some of the most shocking facts about the city's current state—the population is less than half of what it was decades ago; there are 400 liquor stores there, but only eight supermarkets—all while panning shots of the consequences of its deterioration flashed on the screen.
Describing Detroit as "a city that is virtually on life support," Hansen then introduced the audience to an ambitious plan by Mayor Dave Bing to bulldoze down more than 10,000 buildings and literally shrink the city's borders in order to save money spent on public services. Again, disturbing aerial shots were abound.
As the special's end drew nearer, depressing music played as even more aerial shots revealed Detroit's desolation—combined with shocking information, like the fact that there are 40 square miles of vacant/abandoned property within the city's limits—and Mayor Bing explained in more detail to Hansen his plan to shrink its size (something he claims will take 10 to 20 years, if it's able to be completed at all).
Will Detroit ever return to its glory days of the first half of the 20th Century? Probably not. Will it even be able to avoid going completely bankrupt and return from the brink of total destruction? Nobody really knows. What is clear, though—especially after seeing the devastation from the sky—is that the Motor City has a long, long way to go to even become a shell of its former self.
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