Before Detroit became the 21st century poster child for urban decay as well as the largest American city to go bankrupt, it was once the shining city on the hill.
After World War II, the American economy transitioned from a war footing to a consumer footing, and continued to boom, while most other advanced economies dug itself out of the rubble. As Detroit coalesced into the heart of the American auto industry, with Chrysler on the east side of Detroit, with Ford and GM on the west side. While cities like NY and Chicago crammed people into buildings in narrow plots of land, Detroit expanded horizontally as middle class American built row after row of middle class houses on the back of a booming automobile culture.
With a huge influx of migrants attracted to work opportunities, particularly from the South, Detroit was not only becoming more affluent, it was becoming more diverse – the bouncy beat of Motown in the 1960s, originated in Detroit by producer Berry Gordy.
So it would have been no surprise for Detroit, arguably at the heart of the American economy, with the soul of American music, to have the ambition to host an Olympic Games. Unfortunately for Hockeytown (as the home of the Detroit Redwings is sometimes referred to), their 1958 bid for the 1964 Olympics fell short to an up and coming city out of Japan. Tokyo won the bid with near unanimity.
Detroit would come close in its bid for the Mexico City Olympics in 1968. In total, Detroit has submitted bids an amazing 7 times, giving up after a final attempt for the 1972 Games. But you can always dream, as this Detroit Free Press story does.