Wednesday, March 16, 2016

From Boom to Bust: A Brief History of Flint, Michigan

A brief, breezy and highly personalized history of Flint, Michigan. With footnotes. A few samples:
My hometown, I discovered, was founded on a shady, under-the-table land deal. A ruse, a feint, a dodge. A swindle, to put it another way.
It was a dubious day in local history, one unlikely to be commemorated by a plaque or a marker. What is arguably Flint’s first permanent structure — built by a man who could be considered its first speculator and failed businessman — became its first abandoned property. Obviously, it wouldn’t be the last.
My mother showed me black-and-white photos of my grandparents from their early years in Flint. I remembered my grandma wearing modest house dresses she had sewn herself, accented with blue canvas Keds when she worked around the house. But here she was with her hair in a stylish bob and dressed in full flapper mode. My grandpa was decked out in a tailored suit with wide, peaked lapels and a fedora set at a rakish angle. They were both smiling, their arms around each other, gazing straight at the camera. They looked like Bonnie and Clyde, not the low-key couple I remembered. America was making the transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy, and my grandparents seemed happy to be a part of it all, eager for what might happen next. Flint and my family had a far different history than I had imagined.
To read the rest, visit Medium.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Gordie, I enjoyed the history lesson. It's always interesting to read about our ancestor's antics. I wonder what sort of opinions Flintoids in the year 2100 will have towards us. Hopefully, they will uncover more good than bad.


Thanks for commenting. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at