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Because Detroit already had a large automobile industry with factories ready to produce vehicles using relatively-new assembly-line techniques, it was well-suited to producing war machines. At the start of America's war, writes the Detroit Historical Society, as many as , workers moved to Detroit to work in factories producing war equipment. Billions and billions of bullets. Detroit, with two per cent of the population, made ten per cent of the tools for war. They have always planned and worked at a broad scale. This is the other side of the war effort in Detroit: They became more visible and worked with government contracts, but the war effort also led to huge advancements in assembly-line technology, Burgess writes.

For instance, "Chrysler had been tasked with building 40mm anti-aircraft guns, known as Borfors guns, which initially took man-hours to build. By the end of the war, Chrysler cut that time to 10 man-hours. Although tanks were not new inventions, World War II was the first time that entire battles had been fought with them, writes Jake Hendricks for a Michigan Technological University blog on military history.

Keller was asked by the War Department if his company could build a tank. Subscribe or Give a Gift.

Detroit in pictures: the urban decay of Motor City as it files for bankruptcy - Telegraph

Humans Reached the Roof of the World 40, Years. Learning to Speak Latino. Science Age of Humans. It seems the American hope of a steady job, producing rising income and a home in the suburbs, has evaporated for many. A generation of aspiring middle-class homeowners have been wiped out by the recession. There is little doubt that Detroit is ground zero for the parts of America that are still suffering. The city that was once one of the wealthiest in America is a decrepit, often surreal landscape of urban decline. It was once one of the greatest cities in the world.

The birthplace of the American car industry, it boasted factories that at one time produced cars shipped over the globe. Its downtown was studded with architectural gems, and by the s it boasted the highest median income and highest rate of home ownership of any major American city. Decades of white flight, coupled with the collapse of its manufacturing base, especially in its world-famous auto industry, have brought the city to its knees. Half a century ago it was still dubbed the "arsenal of democracy" and boasted almost two million citizens, making it the fourth-largest in America.

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Now that number has shrunk to , Its once proud suburbsnow contain row after row of burnt-out houses. Empty factories and apartment buildings haunt the landscape, stripped bare by scavengers. Now almost a third of Detroit — covering a swath of land the size of San Francisco — has been abandoned. Tall grasses, shrubs and urban farms have sprung up in what were once stalwart working-class suburbs.

Even downtown, one ruined skyscraper sprouts a pair of trees growing from the rubble. Not that anyone is buying.

At a recent auction of 9, confiscated city houses, only a fifth found buyers. The city has become such a byword for decline that Time magazine recently bought a house and set up a reporting team there to cover the city's struggles for a year. There has been no shortage of grim news for Time 's new "Assignment Detroit" bureau to get their teeth into.

Recently a semi-riot broke out when the city government offered help in paying utility bills.

Need was so great that thousands of people turned up for a few application forms. In the end police had to control the crowd, which included the sick and the elderly, some in wheelchairs. At the same time national headlines were created after bodies began piling up at the city's mortuary. Family members, suffering under the recession, could no longer afford to pay for funerals. Incredibly, despite such need, things are getting worse as the impact of the recession has bitten deeply into the city's already catastrophic finances.

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As the number of bus routes shrivels and street lights are cut off, it is the poorest who suffer. People like TJ Taylor. He is disabled and cannot work.


He relies on public transport. It has been cut, so now he must walk. But the lights are literally going out in some places, making already dangerous streets even more threatening. I pity for the poor people who live in them," he said. The brutal truth, some experts say, is that Detroit is being left behind — and it is not alone. In cities across America a collapsed manufacturing base has been further damaged by the recession and has led to conditions of dire unemployment and the creation of an underclass.

Richard Feldman, a former Detroit car-worker and union official turned social activist, sees disaster across the country. Sitting in a downtown Detroit bar, he lists a grim roll call of cities across America where decline is hitting hard and where the official end of the recession will make little difference. Feldman sees a relentless decline for working-class Americans all the way from Iowa to New York. He sees the impact in his own family, as his retired parents-in-law have difficulties with their gutted pension fund and his disabled son stares at cuts to his benefits.

The economic changes going on, he believes, are a profound de-industrialisation with which America is failing to come to terms. It's been happening here in Detroit since the s. Detroit just got it first, but it could happen anywhere now. The busy highway of Eight Mile Road marks the border between the city of Detroit and its suburbs. On one side stretches the city proper with its mainly black population; on the other stretches the progressively more wealthy and more white suburbs of Oakland County. But this recession has reached out to those suburbs, too.

Repossessions have spread like a rash down the streets of Oakland's communities.

MC5 The Motor City is Burning

Joblessness has climbed, spurred by yet another round of mass lay-offs in the auto industry. Feldman recently took a tour down Eight Mile Road and was shocked by what he saw: I did not believe it until I saw it. Professor Robin Boyle, an urban planning expert at Detroit's Wayne State University, believes the real impact of the recession will continue to be felt in those suburbs for years to come. For decades they stood as a bulwark against the poverty of the city, ringing it like a doughnut of prosperity, with decrepit inner Detroit as the hole at its centre.

Now home losses and job cuts are hitting the middle classes hard. But what do you think that means for the poor people who live in the hole? That picture is borne out by the recent actions of Gleaners Community Food Bank. The venerable Detroit institution has long sent out parcels of food, clothing and furniture all over the city.

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But now it is doing so to the suburbs as well, sometimes to people who only a year or so ago had been donors to the charity but now face food shortage themselves. Gleaners has delivered a staggering 14, tonnes of food in the past 12 months alone. Standing in a huge warehouse full of pallets of potatoes, cereals, tinned fruit and other vitals, Gleaners' president, DeWayne Wells, summed up the situation bluntly: The recession hit them so quickly they just became overwhelmed.

In Detroit many people see the only signs of recovery as coming from themselves. As city government retreats and as cuts bite deep, some of those left in the city have not waited for help. Take the case of Mark Covington. He was born and raised in Detroit and still lives only a few yards from the house where he grew up in one of the city's toughest neighbourhoods.