Skip to content
Subscriber Only

In Detroit, Urban Flight in Reverse

Young professionals are fleeing Detroit’s suburbs for its downtown
In Detroit, Urban Flight in Reverse
Photograph by Theodor Barth/laif/Redux

After three years in the suburbs, Nathaniel Wallace, 32, bought a rehabbed loft near downtown Detroit this summer. The IT contractor paid less than $200,000 for the three-level home, which has more than 2,800 square feet of living space and a rooftop view of the Comerica Park baseball stadium. It was an easy decision, he says: “People see Detroit as the cool place to be.”

The city is almost bankrupt. It tops the FBI’s list for violent crimes in U.S. cities with populations of 300,000 or more. And between 2000 and 2010, Detroit lost 25 percent of its residents. Yet in the past several years young professionals have started rehabbing vacant lots and opening yoga studios, gradually reclaiming pockets of the city’s core. “The feeling,” says Wallace, “is that we’ve gotten to the other side—we’ve gotten past a lot of the stuff that plagued us for a long time.”