Or when city government gives up on them? There is a fairly disturbing site, that has for some time chronicled the decline of Detroit. GooBing Detroit.
Click on the image for a larger view. It captures the Google Maps Street view of the same set of houses in Detroit from 2009 thru 2015. What a difference 6 years makes.
Writing about the problems of Detroit is not hard, and it is not new. (The post at that link is from 2011.) I have written about the 911 response time, in that city, where it got so bad that citizens stopped bothering. If you have to wait an hour for cops, when you are dealing with a violent encounter, you might want to have a plan aside from “Call 911.”
But back to GooBing Detroit, and one post in particular.
This is a kind of “Powers of Ten” of property tax foreclosure, starting w/ this block of Hazelridge St. Properties in red tax foreclosed between 2002 – 2018, though most (about 135,000 of 180,000) were tax foreclosed 2009 – 2018.
In city of less than 700,000 people, losing that much of your tax base cannot be shrugged off. Though it seems like politicians don’t understand that. (The 2019 estimate I saw was 670,000. YMMV.)
I’ve said before that I think cities are a 19th Century anachronism. People originally moved to places like Detroit because that is where autos were manufactured. People moved to the South Side of Chicago to work in the steel mills, and those mills were huge. People moved to cities because that is where the jobs were.
But those jobs are gone. And while the white collar jobs stayed, and people stayed because of the restaurants and nightlife and shopping even that has been changing. Amazon has killed shopping, and COVID-19 is doing a fine job of killing restaurants, and nightlife. And now that white collar workers can work from home and phone it in, what reason is left to crowd yourself into a high crime city? Or more specifically, a high tax city? Cities have higher taxes for several reasons, but when the amenities/services don’t work out to a good deal, people leave.
Looking at that sequence of images again it strikes me as how fast a neighborhood fell, from being reasonably well-kept to being abandoned and burned to the ground.