"Bankruptcy," says Bob Marsh, CEO of LevelEleven, one of Detroit’s new startups, “gives me hope in what’s going to happen next. For decades, those of us living here have seen mismanagement and corruption and the same pattern: a new mayor comes in with plans on how to fix things and yet they keep getting worse. A lot of people here have wanted this to happen. It’s time to take drastic measures so the city can correct itself. Someone’s finally willing to take a pivot here.”
Detroit doesn’t simply decay with time. It wrestles with decay by putting up new skyscrapers and tearing down others. Fresh strips of sidewalk were paved in front of vacant lots. Some beautiful old mansions were renovated but never quite finished. When Detroit hosted the Super Bowl in 2006, the city even tried to string festive lights on abandoned office buildings.
“To me,” says photographer Camile Jose Vergara, “the whole story got more and more interesting as time passed, because it got more complicated.”