Ann Arbor Weather:
Thursday February 22, 2018
Follow us: facebook twitter RSS feed

Everyone's a Critic

The Observer's culture blog


Archives for April, 2017

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, by Tim Athan

Old home in Manchester, Michigan

Some suspect that the slogan "Make America Great Again" is a wish for a return to a time when white men ruled America. Undermining this suspicion are reports that some of Donald Trump's votes came from people who had voted twice for Barack Obama.

A Midwest road trip finds many towns and cities that have seen greater times. The once-impressive homes on their main streets have gone too long without painting and repair. Ann Arbor is an exception; the city has thrived decade after decade, with an occasional stall. In contrast, Jackson's population peaked in 1930, with its current population about 60% of that peak.

Manchester's population peaked in 2000. Adrian's, and the Village of Clinton's, in 1990. The populations of Kalamazoo, Toledo, Plymouth, and Ypsilanti peaked in 1970. Flint's population peaked in 1960. Detroit's population peaked in 1950.

Older residents of these towns can recall a past in which they had much to be proud of. Their hometowns were humming. Tecumseh thought of itself as the "Refrigeration Capital of the World." Kalamazoo was known as "the Celery Capital of the World," and was once known for Checker Cab and Gibson guitars. Jackson Corset Company was the largest manufacturer of corsets in the country, and Jackson at one time was the home of 16 corset manufacturers.

A hundred years ago Adrian was known as "the Fence Capital of the World." Toledo is still referred to as "Glass City," though its glass production has been eclipsed by that of the southern Chinese city Shenzhen.

The decline in each of these towns is similar: business withered or moved away. Tecumseh Products, manufacturer of refrigerator compressors, moved its manufacturing to Mississippi in 2008 (and its headquarters to Ann Arbor). Checker Cab stopped production in 1983. BB gun maker Daisy Outdoor Products, founded in Plymouth, moved to Arkansas in 1958. La-z-Boy is still headquartered in Monroe, but with a much reduced workforce.

When businesses quit, personal incomes and public funds dropped. While in 2000 the per capita income for Ann Arbor was $26,419, it was $16,528 for Adrian and $15,230 for Jackson.

During the election season, Trump's "Make America Great Again" signs were a common sight in these declining towns.


posted by John Hilton at 3:05 p.m. | 3 comments


Previous Posts


You might also like:

Photo: Olympic Dance Routine Finale
Community Services - Volunteering
Moth StorySLAM
Judged by people, hosted by pros
Sally Mitani
Ulrich's Reopens
Back in business at South U and Church
Sabine Bickford
Lights Up
An October Michigan Supreme Court order has local governments cheering
Patrick Dunn
Restaurants with prices $10 To $20
A clickable zoomable map
Subscribe to the Ann Arbor Observer
Controversial Column
Talia Katz titled her Michigan Daily op-ed "The Only Fascist, Sexist Bigot in the Classroom."
Eve Silberman
Persian Immersion
At Caspian Mediterranean Grill
M.B. Lewis
Michael Leech
By the sound
Kathleen Schenck
New Office Space Construction. Suites from 2,500 to 44,500 SF
Senior Living Communties 734-677-0071
Jared Dwarshuis Handyman and Home repaires