Documentary: Detropia (2012).  The following synopsis was written by Caroline Libresco: Detroit’s story has encapsulated the iconic narrative of America over the last century – the Great Migration of African Americans escaping Jim Crow; the rise of manufacturing and the middle class; the love affair with automobiles; the flowering of the American dream; and now . . . the collapse of the economy and the fading American mythos.

With its vivid, painterly palette and haunting score, Detropia sculpts a dreamlike collage of a grand city teetering on the brink of dissolution. These soulful pragmatists and stalwart philosophers strive to make ends meet and make sense of it all, refusing to abandon hope or resistance. Their grit and pluck embody the spirit of the Motor City as it struggles to survive post-industrial America and begins to envision a radically different future.

Post-Industrial America

For anyone that has been following the story of Detroit’s bankruptcy or the state of pension plans in America – topics covered here and here – this documentary adds to the picture. A picture of a country stumbling towards a future of widening income and wealth gaps.

Available for streaming on Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, and iTunes.

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. Hi James – I live in a post-industrial city – Manchester UK
    Manchester used to be called “cottonopolis” as there were so many textile mills.
    All of these closed down in the 60s, 70s and 80s leaving a massive void.
    Then along came Margaret Thatcher in the 80s and 90s to finish our city off when she shut down the coal industry.
    Since my childhood of bombsites and crumbling buildings in the late 70s and early 80s Manchester has re-invented itself as one of the most vibrant cities in the UK.
    Music, Media Production, Film Making, Finance, Hi Tech Engineering, Pharmaceutical research – thats what we’re famous these days. A great mix of modern and old buildings, plenty of cafes and bars.
    Now if someone could sort out the rainy climate – it would be a great place to live

    • It sounds as if Detroit could use the city planners that turned Manchester around. The documentary offers a pretty sobering look at the impact the economic downturn – and years of poor management I imagine – has had on the city and its residents. It will be interesting to follow the story of the city to see if it can reinvent itself. Thanks for dropping in, Mike. Always good to hear from you.

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