This summer thenews division at Time Inc. bought a house in Detroit. Why? Following the leadof editor-in-chief John Huey, the editors agreed that even Detroit's unequaledinfluence on the economic and social evolution of America as the cradle of thenation's middle class was scraping bottom, and that the city's rise and falland struggle to rise again reflected the harshest of changing Americanrealities. So what's it really like to live in Detroit? That's where the houseon Parker Avenue comes in.
This is an article from the Sept. 28, 2009 issue
The intention ofTime Inc.'s Assignment Detroit is to flood the zone with journalists,photographers, videographers and bloggers from TIME and Time.com, FORTUNE andFortune.com, CNNMoney.com, MONEY, as well as the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED GROUP. Somestaffers will live in the house, and others will stay there while in townreporting. It was dubbed the D-Shack after Kid Rock dropped by with ahousewarming gift of a Gothic D for the mantel and a keg of his locally brewedBadass Beer; you can't throw a rock from the porch without hitting a strongstory.
The wounds areopen. Since the scorching riots of 1967, no other city has suffered moredepressing economic trends. The politics can be toxic, and there are continuingissues of race and class, as well as health care and education. Not onenational chain operates a grocery store within city limits; the functionalilliteracy rate is pushing 50%; the unsolved murder rate is near 70%;unemployment is up to 29%. And yet outside of Michigan, Detroit has beenunderreported.
From SPORTSILLUSTRATED's perspective, Detroit is above all a sports town, and SI kicks offAssignment Detroit this week with a cover story by senior writer Lee Jenkins,who reports how Tigers owner Mike Ilitch responded to the economic crisis notby cutting costs but by reinvesting dramatically in his franchise and what thathas meant to the people of Detroit. What has unfolded at Comerica Park thissummer, one year removed from a last-place finish, has lifted the city.
"For all thedisadvantages facing Detroit right now, the city has something crucial goingfor it," Jenkins says. "Scores of people and families have been in thearea for generations and care deeply about it, as demonstrated by the passionthey show for their sports teams. As Kid Rock said when asked about this year'sTigers: 'We'll take whatever we can get. We have nowhere to go butup.'"
Detroit isfighting for life. And yet in its relationship with the Tigers it is possibleto see a future when better days—and perhaps the World Series—come back totown.
If you want tocomment on Assignment Detroit or suggest a topic, go to SI.com/sidetroit