Michigan Central StationWaikanae people who have for over a decade suffered from constant massive rates increases by the KCDC may view that incredulously, but it’s true.

A program broadcast on the History Channel (U.S.) last night looked at the Detroit’s rise and decline during the 20th century.

The home of America’s automotive industry, Detroit grew steadily during the first half of the century and by the 1950s it had a population of 1.5 million.

Much of the population growth came from black workers escaping the segregation of the South. But they found that even without legal sanction, entrenched racist attitudes by white workers were a big problem. These didn’t want live in the same neighborhoods as blacks in the inner city and moved to new suburbs.  The result was inner city decline.

Worse were racist attitudes among the police.  A Chief of Police appointed by the Mayor to turn these attitudes around tried, said he couldn’t and quit.

Eventually in July 1967 a major riot by blacks saw 2,000 city buildings destroyed.

Things got worse: the 1970s saw the oil crisis and the influx of smaller fuel efficient Japanese cars.  Detroit’s auto production fell and so did jobs.

By the 2000s, Detroit’s population had fallen to 700,000 — and there were abandoned buildings everywhere, both industrial and residential.

The credit crunch of 2008 saw General Motors and Chrysler file for bankruptcy protection.   The city decided that many of its eyesore empty buildings were going to be demolished, including the iconic 18-story Michigan Central Station from 1914 which last saw a passenger train in 1988.

But locals wanted it saved, and two weeks ago the Ford Motor Company announced that it was the new owner of the building which will be restored and used as a research and development center — story

Ford has also expressed interest in seeing Amtrak long distance trains return to the once opulent station.  There is new, cautious optimism in Detroit’s future.