June 7, 2010

The Land of Golden Chariots

I watched The Happiest Millionaire (1967) the other night, remembering those summer evenings from my childhood doing the exact same thing - lying in front of TV with a bowl of ice cream and watching an old movie, nothing in the days before me but swimming and riding my bike around the neighborhood. One of the songs from the Disney musical is "Detroit," which praises the city as the "land of golden chariots" and the promise of a new American future in automobile manufacturing. The movie takes places in the early 1900s, so it makes sense that there would be much anticipation over this Michigan city.

However, I could not help but reflect sadly on the irony of this song in the context of today's Detroit. If you are not already aware, Detroit has become one of the worst cities to live in the country - overrun by high crime and depressed real estate and job markets. Oh, how the mighty has fallen. We are at a critical point in the US. We are so far behind much of the world in terms of innovation and sustainable development. For a view into how we compare to other places in terms of our transportation infrastructure, read this article by The New York Times' Thomas Friedman. We need to make some changes and improve our nation's infrastructure. This article suggests putting more resources into our public transportation system instead increasing the number of automobiles that our world will eventually be unable to sustain. Coming from someone who rides a packed and dilapidated subway system each day, I wholeheartedly agree. What we need - and I think we are developing - is the kind of enthusiasm in the video clip below for innovation and a new way of (sustainable) living.

1 comment:

  1. My husband is originally from Michigan, and I always ask, "What happened to Detroit?" The architecture, culture, and innovation that poured out of the city decades ago was fantastic, but today, it's so depressing to see the decrepit state the city is in.

    And you are absolutely right about investing in our transportation systems. Why is it that America is so "advanced," yet so backwards?


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