Flint is finished


Pittsburgh has its robots and even Detroit has its dreams, but some rustbelt cities have nothing much left. Flint, Michigan.

The city was once a major hub for auto manufacturing. Its downtown was booming and vibrant, bolstered by strong working and middle-class neighborhoods. In its heyday there were 200,000 residents, and in the 1960s and 1970s, General Motors employed more than 80,000 of them at its Flint facilities. Today, GM employs about 5,000 workers in Flint. The city has never recovered from the loss, and now grapples with widespread poverty and crime. It's consistently ranked among the most violent cities in the country. … In 1965, Flint's population was about 200,000. In 2013, for the first time since the 1920s, census figures found the city's population had dipped below 100,000. And the slide hasn't ebbed: The population in 2014 was just about 99,000, down from 99,791 in 2013.

Block by block, neighborhoods where GM had built houses for its workers were marked by the detritus of abandonment, crumbling homes and overgrown lots. Crime and despair began to fester. And generations of families barely making it replaced those that had once thrived. Often those families were one and the same.