The gradual decline of the auto-industry and other industrial factors has had a profound effect on rustbelt cities. Detroit, Pittsburgh, and to a lesser extent Flint and Gary have been darlings of the industrial revisionists, those seeking to revitalize manufacturing cities through ill-conceived investment and/or city-planning—for example, Flint’s Autoworld and Detroit’s casinos.
Unfortunately, Saginaw, Michigan lacks the name recognition of Detroit, Chicago, Pittsburgh, or even Gary. Combine the absence of name recognition with the flight of the auto-industry, an economic slowdown, latent racial tension, and the result is what I like to call “New Plantation Blues.”
The photos in this album are just a glimpse of Saginaw. They represent a fraction of the decline, a sliver of our indentured-servitude owed to predatory mortgage companies, below standard-of-living employers, and lack of foresight.
At the end of the day many of us don’t live among these ruins. But for just a second, think about those of us who do. —J.T. June 2009