During the past 315 years, Detroit has been through its share of ups and downs. Some you know about and some you probably don’t. What most of you do realize is the incredible resiliency of this city and the people who proudly call themselves Detroiters. Some term us “survivors.” I like to think of us fighters who get off the mat to battle again.
Seems like everyone knows about the famous Chicago fire, but Detroit had its own catastrophe in 1805. According to Detroit Historical Society records, the entirety of the city burned with only one building saved from this destruction. Our Detroit seal represents this fire and a theme that shows two figures, one weeping for the destroyed city and a second gesturing to a new city that will be created. Two mottos of the city are Speramus Meliora and Resurget Cineribus: “We hope for better things,” and “It will rise from the ashes.” (Wish those two years of high school Latin actually allowed me to translate, but this is again from Detroit Historical Society records.)
Detroit stands as an extraordinary example of a city that continues to not only rise from the ashes but to also reinvent itself. From an early fur trading post, to a center of commerce, to the manufacturing center of the world and the “arsenal of democracy.” We now are reinventing ourselves as a technology hub, an innovation incubator, and a site of extraordinary health care.
We have moved past the negative points in our history and the city is on a definitive upward trajectory. Positive interest in Detroit and investment is strong – perhaps the strongest in our lifetime. We are making progress.
Last month, the city of Detroit proudly announced that it reached a major blight removal milestone – 10,000 demolitions in 2.5 years. Considering that a blight task force survey identified 40,000 structures requiring demolition in 2014, this is a very good start.
But there is more…much, much more.
Real estate investment is booming, particularly in the downtown and Midtown districts. This entails unprecedented commercial redevelopment, the creation of District Detroit, and continued investment by educational and health care institutions, including our very own Henry Ford Health System.
The demand for housing is robust. New homes, condos and apartment buildings are rising from the ground and old ones are being rehabilitated as quickly as possible. Anchored by the RiverWalk, the riverfront continues to transform, including Orleans Landing, a $65 million luxury housing and retail project.
We also have a new spirit of community, with areas of unique, diverse and exciting communities developing in dispersed parts of the city. It is important for all of us to ensure the vitalization efforts in Downtown and Midtown extended to the communities throughout the city, communities that add to the vibrancy of Detroit.
And we certainly cannot forget the investments made by the countless small business owners who have contributed to Detroit’s thriving restaurant and bar scene that rivals the trendiest of eateries in New York City.
As for progress, I see it every day as a leader at Henry Ford Hospital and Midtown, Inc. We are headed for the greatest time in our city’s history and all of us should truly proud to be part of it.
Happy belated birthday, Detroit! You’re looking good for 315!