Monday, May 18, 2009

Detroit is our Future: The Detroit UnReal Estate Agency in Windsor

Across the river Detroit's Canadian twin city has been undergoing a comparatively protracted path of economic meltdown. This process is delayed as production in the auto industry reached its peak much later than in the US. Nevertheless the sprawl machine started up in the 1950s and it is still going strong in Windsor where it has spawned three new outlying townships (Tecumseh, Lakeshore, LaSalle) in the last twenty years. Commercial property owners have been busy boarding up and tearing down buildings in the city over the past couple of years, seemingly in final preparations for a funeral for the auto industry.

Henry Ford famously pronounced the demise of the city early on in the history of the auto industry: "we shall solve the city problem by leaving the city". Nowhere is this process more pronounced than in the Windsor neighborhood that bears his name: Ford Town (now Ford City). Drouillard Road is the main street that runs through this neighborhood. It was established around 1910 when Ford began to send auto parts from Detroit across the river for manufacturing in Canada in order to avoid tariffs levied on finished automobiles that were exported to Canada and other parts of the British Commonwealth. The growth and decline of this area was rapid: Ford City had reached its peak population in 1928 and by 1950 had been largely abandoned due to the closure of the main plant and the growth of the new suburbs, strip malls and other auto-related urban shifts.

Chrysler's assembly plant is currently the largest in Canada. The Chrysler complex covers approximately three square kilometers of southeast Windsor and is at the moment up for grabs. The security presence around the factory made it difficult to take pictures near any of the entrances.

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