Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Is St. Louis the Next Detroit? (Not in My View); Struggling Cities; Gateway City on Cusp of Turnaround

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Is St. Louis the Next Detroit? (Not in My View); Struggling Cities; Gateway City on Cusp of Turnaround

Article excerpt

When the St. Louis Cardinals played the Detroit Tigers in the 1968 World Series, the whole nation was watching (it captured an astounding 57 percent of television viewers) and both cities as well as both teams were looking good. Detroit was still the unchallenged auto capital of the world, and St. Louis was home to a dozen of the nation's biggest and best-known companies.

Since then, the two baseball teams have fared better than their cities. When they met again in the 2006 World Series, the rest of the nation yawned 83 percent of viewers tuned out. Who cared about a baseball rivalry in two dying cities in flyover country?

From 1950 to 2010, Detroit's population dropped from about 1.8 million to 714,000 a 61.4 percent decline. Over the same period, St. Louis City dropped from 857,000 residents to 319,000 a 62.7 percent decline.

Think of Detroit as a larger St. Louis more than twice the size in area as well as population. Drive through north St. Louis and you see block after block of abandoned and boarded-up buildings; drive through Detroit and it is mile after mile of the same. It is the Empty Quarter of cityscapes which partly explains why it takes an hour for Detroit's police to respond to a 911 call.

Detroit leads the nation's cities in violent crime, followed by Oakland and St. Louis. According to FBI statistics, your chances of being the victim of a violent crime (murder, rape, robbery, and assault) are not a whole lot less in St. Louis City than they are in Detroit. The incidence of such crimes is only 13 percent lower in St. Louis than Detroit. I worked in Detroit from 1976 to 1982 as a reporter and anchor at WXYZ-TV. Coleman Young was the city's first black mayor, notorious for playing the race card (though most white politicians were no better). I once asked him about his girlfriend's exorbitant salary as the administration's PR person. That night, the station ran his response an expletive-filled rant accusing me of racism for even raising the question. Later, many city employees both black and white thanked me for spotlighting the mayor's favoritism. …

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