Detroit Rises From Rock Bottom With Its First Population Increase Since the 1950s

INSIDE: Michael Cohen ... Matt Gaetz ... Clarence Thomas
A view of Detroit Skyline toward the Detroit River and Windsor Canada, in Detroit, Michigan. Circa 1950. (Photo by Authenticated News/Archive Photos/Getty Images)
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A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.

What A Journey!

Detroit’s population has increased for the first time since the 1950s.

Its decades-long decline has long been emblematic of America’s industrial decline, the hollowing out of cities that followed the loss of factories, and the urban wasteland of poverty, crime, drugs and social decay left behind. It was always a bit more complicated than that, but damn Detroit had it rough.

The contrast between its heyday and its nadir were so stark. From gleaming mid-century capital of the automotive industry that drew immigrants from around the world and was a major destination of the Great Migration to a husk of a city with abandoned landmarks, a local economy in free-fall, and its national reputation in disrepair.

Detroit benefitted from an unbelievable population explosion in the first half of the 20th century. It didn’t crack the top 10 until 1910, but by 1920 it had doubled its population and was the fourth largest city in America. By 1930, it became the fourth U.S. city to top 1 million people, and it peaked in the 1950s with a population of nearly 2 million. It has the dubious distinction of being the only U.S. city to surpass 1 million people then fall back below that number.

The latest figures show a slight uptick of 1,852 people from 2022 to 2023. Not a huge swing, but deeply symbolic given its painful historical arc.

The Menace Of Stroads

While we’re on the topic of urban development, the WSJ had a good piece on “stroads” yesterday which reminded me of this really good explanation of how the stroad is the centerpiece of America’s misbegotten post-war development patterns, largely built around the automobile (sorry, Detroit, I giveth, then I taketh away):

Biden’s Blue Wall

Let’s me streeeetch and bring all of this back to politics. The Blue Wall of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin remains President Biden’s simplest path to 270 electoral votes, and he’s spending a lot of time there. The WSJ looks at the numbers.

Biden-Trump Debates Are On

Things moved very quickly Wednesday morning, with President Biden ditching the traditional Commission on Presidential Debates and throwing down a gauntlet to Donald Trump to debate twice and on the early side. What looked initially like the beginning of a negotiation over the debates turned out to be the culmination of negotiations that had already been under way. By midday, the debate schedule was more or less locked in place (and the debate commission was entirely sidelined):

  • June 27: hosted by CNN in Atlanta and moderated by Jake Tapper and Dana Bash
  • Sept. 10: hosted by ABC News

In related news, former Biden White House chief of staff Ron Klain will take leave from his Airbnb job to help Biden with debate prep.

A Counterintuitive Supreme Court Decision

The Supreme Court cleared the way for Louisiana to use a new congressional district map with two majority-Black districts – a win of sorts for voting rights – but the dissenters were the liberal justices who feared that how the majority arrived at the decision will be used to undermine voting rights in future cases.

What A Colossal Waste

When the final tally is complete, Rep. David Trone (D-MD) may end up having spent more on his losing primary campaign than any Senate candidate has spent on their entire campaigns ever.

Michael Cohen Is Back On The Witness Stand

TPM’s Josh Kovensky is liveblogging the second day of the cross-examination of former Trump fixer Michael Cohen in the Stormy Daniels hush-money trial.

Menendez Trial: Opening Statements

Prosecutors gave their opening statements yesterday in the public corruption trial of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ). Defense counsel are expected to give their opening statements today.

Just In …

President Biden is asserting executive privilege over the audio of his two-day interview with Special Counsel Robert Hur in the classified documents investigation that ultimately yielded no criminal charges. The move comes as House Republicans try to keep the issue in the news during an election year by pushing toward holding Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for refusing to cough up the audio of the interview. Biden invoked the privilege at Garland’s request, the White House said.

Gaetz Under The Gun

As part of its investigation of Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), the House Ethics Committee earlier this week subpoenaed the Justice Department for records related to its investigation of Gaetz in a related sex trafficking case, Politico is reporting. The DOJ investigation ended without charging Gaetz.

Clarence Thomas And That RV Loan

Greg Sargent:

Thomas is still refusing to reveal whether he repaid the principal on the $267,000 loan that he received from Anthony Welters, a wealthy health care executive and personal friend, to purchase his RV in 1999, according to a letter that senators Ron Wyden and Sheldon Whitehouse have sent to an attorney for Thomas.

Venezuela Loses Its Last Glacier

The loss of La Corona glacier was long expected but it marks a point of no return for the glaciers of the tropical northern Andes, which are expected to all be gone by 2050.

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Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for docd docd says:

    Thomas is still refusing to reveal whether he repaid the principal on the $267,000 loan…

    You know how you hate to admit to having fulfilled your agreement to pay off a loan.
    And although we don’t own an RV, and are unlikely to purchase one, I have to imagine the horror of ending up next to those two at some random RV park. I realize that they are unlikely to go to a KOA, but still…

  2. Avatar for Zemod Zemod says:

    I’m a Barry Sanders fan, so Go Detroit!

    I should have bought a house there back when you could get one for $4,000.

  3. Avatar for Zemod Zemod says:

    I can only imagine the sound of Lawrence Welk blaring from their external speakers.

  4. Great one this morning, David. Just this spring I gave a paper about post-War development in Detroit, and the way that the construction of Spur Highway 351 eradicated the entertainment districts of Black Bottom and Paradise Valley. Part of a nationwide tactic to contain and choke off Black neighborhoods: see, the impact of Moses’s Cross-Bronx Expressway on the birth of hip hop.

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