Poor Flint, Michigan.
It is a classic company town — synonymous with General Motors and the auto industry.
For decades, the city enjoyed a love affair with GM, then the world’s leading automobile manufacturer. According to the U.S. Census, Flint’s population peaked at nearly 200,000 in 1960 and as late as 1978, it counted 80,000 auto-industry jobs.
Here’s the famous arch over Saginaw Street in Flint:
Unfortunately, it has suffered right along with GM, starting with the 1970s oil crisis, labor unrest, years of recession, failure and ultimately the company’s slow-motion collapse into bankruptcy.
Now, Flint is known as a classic Rust Belt city, poster child for the demise of the Big Three Automakers, synonymous with layoffs, plant closings, off-shore outsourcing and brownfield.
Unemployment. Foreclosures. Poverty. All are sky-high in Flint, which has shrunk to a town of about 125,000 people.
As a result, homes sit abandoned in decaying neighborhoods.
Officials have taken a radical approach to fight the decay, improve the overall appearance of Flint and rid the town of its rot by erasing entire neighborhoods from the city. Open space is replacing boarded-up houses.
It’s not much different than GM shedding dealers, factories and employees.