NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- While many chime in with "about time" and "good riddance" regarding Detroit's bankruptcy, it's truly a sad conclusion to a once-booming economic city. In the 1940s and 1950s, the city relished in the limelight as automakers like Ford (F - Get Report), General Motors (GM - Get Report) and Chrysler made Detroit into the great city that it was.
When U.S. automakers started to lose their footing in the market a few years ago, it was only the accelerant on an already collapsing city. The straw that broke the camel's back. The fuel thrown on an already raging fire.
The double whammy? Not only did the auto companies tank -- with two of the 'Big Three' U.S. manufacturers filing for bankruptcy and the third, Ford, doing everything it could to stave off Chapter 11. This included putting the blue oval logo out as collateral while the stock traded all the way down to $1, from a split-adjusted high of $38.83 -- but the housing market imploded as well.
Sure, other states keeled over in turmoil from the housing bubble burst, but it was nothing like what Detroit and rest of Michigan was going through. Adding salt to the wound in an area plagued by little financial prosperity -- if any -- is $4-and-change gasoline. While some will say $3.50 is a high price at the pump, the refinery "issues" in the Midwest have only made things worse.
For the first half-century, the city was rockin,' but as time moved through the second half and past the 1960s riots, Detroit has slowly gotten worse over the decades. With a population of 1.85 million in the 1960s, Detroit was the fourth largest American city at the time. Since then, the city has lost more than one million residents, with the current population at approximately 713,000 as of the last census.
Crime fills the crevice in a city full of abandoned buildings, neighborhoods that are
empty, and an illiteracy rate of nearly 50%. Detroit finished in the top-three for most dangerous cities 10 of the last (yep, you guessed it) 10 years, depending on what sources you look at. And don't even get me started on the corruption. Less than a half dozen years ago, Kwame Kilpatrick & Co. roamed the city and did whatever they wanted. He spent funds however he wanted to, including escorts and private parties at the city-owned Manoogian Mansion.