INTRODUCTION: Decay of an Analog City

What is the future for cities that have predominately relied on analog technologies as our world becomes more digitally driven? What does the future hold for places like Youngstown, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Cleveland as more jobs are shipped overseas? What will we call the Rust Belt in 30 years?

So many cities and regions across the country have relied on manufacturing processes to carry their economy since the dawn of the industrial revolution.   How do these cities transform their culture and adapt to the digital age? Ultimately, how does the architecture respond to this necessary shift, but at the same time celebrate its tradition and identity?

One such city, Detroit, is in the middle of a transformation never before seen in the history of the United States.  This former giant of manufacturing has been stripped of its pride and the remnants of this proud city are best described through the telling eyes of photographers.  The city once bolstered an automobile industry that made other countries envious.  Now, with a population decline of more than 25% that has set in over the last decade, the city is realing.1  Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.  The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”  Has Detroit become too old and lost its desire to learn and move into the modern age?

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