The WORST City in America: Highland Park, MichiganApr 01, 2022
Highland Park Michigan What the hell happened here? That might be what you end up wondering as you watch this video. The only positive things to mention about this
cityis the history or what the
citywas like 100 years ago. Highland Park used to be a really nice place. City used to be called the City of Trees, as the residential blocks were filled with elm trees, but in the 1970s a crazy case of Dutch elm disease forced most of the trees throughout the city to be removed, today There are large sections of the city where, in fact, there are hardly any trees or buildings.
Highland Park was once home to a large middle class population and used to be home to the headquarters of one of the most recognized American automobile brands along with thousands of factory jobs that used to provide many families. with a comfortable middle class lifestyle, but today Highland Park is one of the
worstcities in the entire United States and we will go into the details of what happened here during the rest of this video. I start the video on the outskirts of Hamtramck. We're going to cross the Detroit city limits a bit before entering Highland Park.
However, once we get there, you will see that almost all the residential blocks are filled with urban ruins. Half the traffic lights don't work and We will see that driving on many of the streets in Highland Park is like driving on the moon, many of the roads in Michigan are like that you would think and definitely in the entire city of Detroit, but it is in a different level in Highland Park folks, we're currently just southeast. of Highland Park and Highland Park is a city that is completely within the city limits of Detroit, except for a very small part of the southeast that borders Hamtramck, which is another city that is completely within Detroit.
For a video about Hamtramck, be sure to check out my Detroit. playlist that being said, this will be my 11th video in my Detroit series where I will end up touring the entire city Highland Park once again, not to be confused with being a Detroit neighborhood as it is its own city, there isn't much difference . although between the residential areas of Highland Park and a lot of the nearby residential areas of Detroit or what used to be residential areas anyway, this guy here is a big deal around here, believe me, I met him the other day, he's got places to go . to go see him he doesn't care about anyone's feelings okay look like I said I know what I'm talking about none of us are on that guy's level clearly I'm on his level you're not because you obviously aren't from here like this it's how we roll here in Highland Park and by the way your video sucks, oh yeah you again, we all know you're a proven winner in life, you're certainly on that guy's level, in fact we should all strive for achieving it.
Being like you one day is an achievement that most of us can only hope to achieve anyway, now we'll move on to more serious things because we're here to talk about Highland Park right now we're driving through an industrial part of town there's still some factories we just passed along Oakland Avenue and Highland Park is a very small city, the city is just under three square miles of land, to the left is the old high school football field and the high school used to be on the opposite side. side of the field where we are the school was closed after the 2014-2015 school year and was demolished shortly after the mascot was the polar bears shows how far a town has fallen when it cannot find the funds to have its own high school along with much of of Detroit's razor blade fences are a common sight throughout Highland Park, like the one seen here on the right.
The problem with Highland Park over time has been the fact that the entire city has suffered from many of the same problems seen in Detroit's inner city neighborhoods, such as gang violence, high rates of violent and property crimes, drugs and arson, not to mention a strong history of political corruption, the difference is that Detroit, for all its major problems, has them. that Detroit is a very large and sprawling city with a downtown that houses the headquarters of major companies and many other office jobs and not to mention the thousands of industrial jobs that are still located within the city limits of Detroit , all those big offices and industrial spaces. provides Detroit with millions of dollars in tax revenue each year.
Highland Park, on the other hand, has no fancy downtown and hardly any manufacturing jobs left, and as time has gone on, tax revenue has only become harder for the city to come by. of Highland Park as it continues its steep economic downward spiral Highland Park wasn't always this way, as during the city's heyday when it was home to thousands of automotive jobs, Highland Park was considered the model American city, the city was incorporated in 1918 .to avoid being annexed by big bad detroit as Highland Park grew, so did the surrounding areas of Detroit in those days, Highland Park supported a large middle class population, the city did not have much crime and was thought to be The public schools had been some of the best in the country, however, those days did not last long for Highland Park, as the city reached a peak population of almost 53,000 in 1930.
As you can see, Highland Park followed the same trend than Detroit with a mass exodus of jobs and population beginning in 1960. Reasons for this included the Detroit riots that encouraged white flight, the Ford plant ceasing operations in 1974, and Chrysler, which was founded in Highland Park and was based in the city for a long time, it ended up moving its headquarters to the suburb of Auburn Hills, 25 miles north, ironically on the right you have a row of really nice houses near Mcnichols, however they all have an address in Detroit. Directly behind the row of houses on the right is the Detroit Golf Club and there are actually some really nice Detroit neighborhoods. which many of you didn't expect, just west of here we get to get into more of those nice neighborhoods in a separate video as I continue my Detroit series going back to the loss of auto jobs in Highland Park, those moves by the auto giant in Chrysler and Ford hit Highland Park pretty hard, providing much of the city's tax revenue as crime continued at an all-time high throughout the 20th century.
Everyone who could afford to leave Highland Park did so because they found better quality. of suburban living that left Highland Park with a largely impoverished population to the right is the abandoned Liberty School. The building first opened as a school in 1917, but closed in 1997 because enrollment was at its lowest point. The school reopened in 2000 under the name Liberty Academy, but closed again in 2006. The Highland Park School District was once made up of nine different schools, but today the district has been reduced to a single school serving students from kindergarten to eighth grade. was reduced over the years in Highland Park, the school district found itself with financial deficits.
The state of Michigan appointed several different emergency managers to run the Highland Park school district. Over the years, there's not much that can be done to save things if people keep moving. out of town as they move on to other city government roles, there has been a lot of troubling news in recent decades about the city's police department in late 2021, Highland Park hired Johnny Thomas as its new chief of police officer, Thomas was a former commander. with the Detroit Police Department who has a history of drunk driving, left the Detroit Police Department after crashing a department-issued vehicle while intoxicated in 2019, in 2017 a report came out that police officers of Highland Park were some of the lowest paid agents. in the nation and that many of them had to work on the side to earn enough money to live comfortably with many of the vehicles used by the city are old, but there are not enough funds to purchase new police vehicles. just do a google search for
michiganpolice officers and you will find dozens of stories including members of the department acting in a way they shouldn't like this 2021 story where an officer lost his job over an incident in Dearborn meanwhile. this is hamilton avenue and it's obvious that this road has seen better days since i filmed this video hamilton avenue has actually seen a road diet where they reduce lanes for car traffic and add bike lanes anyway in 2021 the mackinac center legal foundation which is a huge law firm in the state of
michiganfiled a lawsuit against the city of
parkafter the city refused to pay the salary of a police officer who was accused of illegal activity which included falsifying documents attached to vehicle owners and participating in a local towing company bribery scheme in which he provided false reports to have vehicles improperly towed and make a lot of money for both himself and the company tow.
More recently, Highland Park is believed to be responsible for an increase in water bills throughout the metropolitan area. detroit since they haven't been paying their water bills, that's sure to make people angry. The reason Highland Park doesn't pay its water bills and everyone else pays for it is because Southeast Michigan gets its water from the Great Lakes Water Authority, which is a regional government agency that supplies water to Detroit and all its suburbs, as Highland Park is so far in debt on its water bills, among other things, the way the Great Lakes Water Authority decided to make up the shortfall is to raise rates for everyone. others who are using their water bills ended up increasing by 3.7 percent, half of which is due to Highland Park not paying their bills, as it said the city is $10 million short on water payments and another 40 million dollars in sewer fees and that's just for the water people, one has to wonder what other debt the city has that is weighing on their shoulders very quickly, although I'm not sure if they realized this since We just entered the Detroit city limits and there we went from being on a street that looked like the surface of the moon to being on a really decent street once we entered the Detroit city limits.
The same dilemma here as we re-enter Highland Park just shows how difficult it is for Highland Park to keep up with its own infrastructure. Anyway, back to the city's debt, considering people continue to leave Highland Park at an extremely high rate with no change in momentum in sight, taking all the tax dollars with them. I wouldn't be surprised if the city of Highland Park is forced to file for bankruptcy in the near future and before we get into some of the city statistics, here's a refresher to show you how many people have left Highland Park since its peak of almost 53 000 people in 1930.
Today, Highland Park is home to just under 9,000 residents and the median household income is 18,000 per year, making it the poorest city in the country and no, it's not me who is extreme or dramatic. Highland Park is actually the poorest city in the country based on reported median household income for cities with more than 5,000 people, only 10 of adults age 25 and older have a bachelor's degree or higher, and one in four residents of 25 years and older failed to graduate from high school; The median value of owner-occupied housing units is only $45,000 and the poverty rate is reported to be forty-six and a half percent, but with an average household income of only eighteen thousand dollars a year, I struggle find the poverty rate to be less than fifty percent but all of these figures come from the official US Census website and you can't get any more official numbers than that, I will also add that it's hard to make statistics like these look Good for the city of Detroit, but Detroit seems like heaven compared to Highland Park.
You can see the averages here for Wayne County. and the united states also here's a look at some of the houses we just passed along this street which is like night and day for most of the other parts of Highland Park we've seen in this video so far There are a few other streets in Highland Park that look good like this and the whole city probably used to look good like that, but not anymore, anyway, niche.com doesn't even have a rating of how good or bad the public schools are in Highland Park like public schoolsThis city has basically become a thing of the past, most families have to send their children to Detroit public schools.
Now it's time to move on to the crime statistics and oh my goodness, does Highland Park have any crime? The violent crime rates in Highland Park are almost 2,000 per 100,000 residents, however, the property crime rates are closer to the national average rates, but I think most of us think the same thing: the Most property crimes in this city go unreported and there are multiple stories explaining how families in Highland Park are seeking justice after long unsolved murders, so I wouldn't be looking too deeply into those low property crime numbers. This place is dangerous. On this street you can glimpse what the city could have used. to look like when it was known as the city of trees, since this street has more trees than the other streets we have been on so far.
Here's a random side note, as several movies have filmed some scenes within the Highland Park city limits. particularly eminem's eight mile movie where they set fire to a house that was a real house that was burned down in Highland Park for that movie, it was cause for controversy when it happened as residents were upset and said the city didn't need another house burned down, the film company came back and raised the abandoned house they burned down and filmed for the movie and paid the associated costs and also made a donation to the city. Of the arson fires in Highland Park have calmed down in recent years, but they still occur.
Highland Park along with the city of Detroit have become notorious for arson attacks over the years, especially on the night before Halloween, which is called Devil's Night. On the left here is the church of San Benito. which opened in 1915. in 2014 the church closed and is now called cathedral of soul harvesting ministries and now we are going to head down the main street in Highland Park which is Woodward Avenue and here I will start to talk about some of the history that once made Highland Park a special place back in 1909, the first mile-long stretch of concrete pavement in the country was used along Woodward Avenue between Mcnichols and Seven Mile Mcnichols, it is often referred to as six miles, technically that stretch of Woodward Avenue is in the Detroit city limits, but given the fact that Six Mile or Mick Nickels serves as the northern boundary for Highland Park, it is located just outside of Highland Park.
To the left is where Highland Park High School used to be today. You can see the entrance area back. which led to the school and here is a Google Street View shot of the school from October 2015, which was right before the school was demolished. Highland Park High School closed after the 2014-2015 school year due to low enrollment and the city could no longer. justify the funds to keep the school open when we cross under this railroad overpass there is a large shopping center on the left called the model t plaza for those who don't know that the model t was the first model automobile to pass through mass production.
An assembly line and Highland Park are often referred to as the birthplace of the assembly line, as it was here that the first assembly line was implemented in a factory. The entire commercial area seen here today used to be occupied by the Highland Park Ford plant. Henry Ford opened the plant in 1910 on the corner of Woodward and Manchester and at the time it was the largest plant in the world. In 1914, Henry Ford offered a wage of five dollars a day, which at the time caused thousands to flock to Highland Park. to get in on the deal and that's what caused Highland Park in the surrounding areas of Detroit to see massive population growth.
The Model T was manufactured here until 1927, after automobile production moved to the River Rouge plant in Dearborn. This plant was still used in many However, to make tractors and other automobile parts, the Highland Park plant also helped build tanks and aircraft engine parts during World War II. Originally, the Highland Park Ford plant was made up of quite a few different buildings, and over time the facility began to be used less. and less of the space was beginning to be leased by Ford and by the 1960s some of the buildings were being demolished. There was actually a power plant attached to the facility, but it was demolished in 1960.
In 1973, the Ford plant in Highland Park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, all production at the facility ended, Ford still it used some of the space for storage until 2012. That being said, Highland Park played an important role in what we know as American life today. A car or renting one is needed almost anywhere you live in this country. America is a country that was built for cars. It all started here in old Michigan Highland Park. The city has fallen harder than almost any other city in this country and its glory days were short-lived, but the invention of the assembly line allowed for the mass production of automobiles and that helped most families afford one before it was much more expensive to build cars and only one percent could afford a car.
There is even more historical data to tell here, since in 1942 the first urban highway was built in Highland Park, which is the Davison Highway and we will cross it later. The freeway was built below street level, as were most other freeways. all over Detroit and while I'm talking about the history of Highland Park that once made this place great, it's very hard to ignore the number of abandoned stores along Woodward Avenue as we continue south, hopefully, the development that is happening along Woodward Avenue between Highland Park and downtown in the Detroit city limits may eventually extend a bit into the Highland Park city limits because this place could use some hope like that and yeah , many of the stores in the Model T shopping plaza were busy and So were many of the stores in the Woodward Place shopping center on the opposite side of the Model T plaza, but it's very hard to ignore what we're seeing here and here we are crossing the Davison Highway, the first urban highway.
Built in the United States in 1942. The idea of converting what was once Davison Avenue into a freeway arose from the fact that Davidson Avenue was once a very congested highway and surveys at the time showed that most of the Traffic was trying to pass through Highland Park on its way from point A to point B and that is what encouraged the idea of building the Davison Expressway. Well, I'll say this. I am someone who has roots in the city of Detroit and southeast Michigan. I'm definitely a homer when it comes. to the state of Michigan and I will speak positively about Michigan more than other states.
I think everyone is like that to some extent about their hometown, their area of origin, but I will say this: I've seen a lot of cities. Throughout the Midwest and the United States of America, I have seen many streets around the corner. This next stretch of streets might be the most depressing looking street you've ever seen. On the left, here is what the original mountain was. Park High School, the newest location was built in Woodward in 1977. After a few years of being vacant, Highland Park Community College moved out sometime in the 1980s, the community college closed, however, in 1996 and later the building was used by Highland Park. career academy in 2009, the career academy closed on short notice as the city simply could not justify keeping the school open with the continued decline in population throughout Highland Park and now the building has been empty for about 13 years and then you have this empty fortress sitting just across the school and to the left, there appears to be a health clinic that might still be in use to some extent, but beyond that is an abandoned parking lot, like this, and from here I transitioned to a place where I drive south on Hamilton Avenue and If the city isn't careful, Hamilton Avenue could look like Glendale Avenue in the near future, it already looks bad enough and I skipped the video to see another large abandoned structure in Highland Park , this is on Third Avenue and Highland Street.
Actually, we have three huge abandoned buildings here, one of them is a power plant, another is what used to be a homeless shelter and another one was recently used as a school, since before it was called the best academy, it was used as part of a hospital and this. The street used to be lined with mid-rise apartment buildings. You still have a larger abandoned one here on the right, but most of it has already been cleared. I skipped the video forward where you can see some abandoned pedestrian tunnels. On the right, believe it or not, Second Avenue used to be congested with traffic in the heyday of Highland Park and it was considered safer for pedestrians to cross the street through these pedestrian tunnels rather than crossing at a crosswalk, this tunnel probably built around the 1920s or 1930s and they've been here unused for decades because as you can see, traffic is definitely not congested on Second Avenue these days and in old Highland Park.
Lastly, I wanted to stop by what is the Stevens Subdivision Historic District. which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. When these houses were built, they were full of working middle class families and now there always seems to be a handful of people who get very angry with me when I make videos about cities and towns that are happening economic hardship and many times they twist things and say I'm making it seem like everyone who lives in a place is a criminal, something I never said once in the entire Highland Park video. I just did or that I am part of the problem for saying that I am doing nothing but talking trash about a town which is not true because I mentioned all the positive history that this place has or that I am saying that the whole city is abandoned and not I show none of the nicer houses, which is also not true because I have shown some nicer houses earlier in the video and I am showing them now, but let's be honest, about 75 percent of the city is abandoned now, sometimes I get death threats or people sending me long emails or direct messages on social media asking me to take down a video or whatever to those who might be mad at me and who might live in Highland Park or have family that lives there. in Highland Park, let's be honest, I'm stating information that has been reported by multiple media outlets and publications over the years.
I'm not saying anything new, so if you're a resident of Highland Park and you're mad at me for doing this video, are you just as mad at the journalists who work for the NBC and ABC of the world when they report on the bad things about Highland Park? ? If so, I just want you to ask yourself what you have done to improve your community. You are a parent, have you been the best parent you can be if you are in school? Are you doing the best you can to succeed in school and have the best chance at living a good life? of every four Highland Park adults age 25 or older haven't even graduated high school and that's a deeper and more complex topic than the topic of this video and I say that because it seems like there's often a good amount of people who try to blame me for a city being the way it is, they show their anger at me for showing what the city is like today, but if you are someone who has taken care of all your personal responsibilities of being a good parent or being a good son, a good daughter, or a good student and you have dedicated time and energy to trying to make a difference in Highland Park to make the city a better place, you are the kind of people this world needs more of and the kind of people that Highland Park needs more of and if that's you, I really hope that your community gives you the respect that you deserve in the meantime I finish the video here and if you enjoyed it, be sure to leave a similar comment and subscribe if you want.
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