After living in San Francisco for 15 years, journalist Gordon Young found himself yearning for his Rust Belt hometown: Flint, Michigan, the birthplace of General Motors and "star" of the Michael Moore documentary Roger & Me. Hoping to rediscover and help a place that once boasted one of the world's highest per capita income levels, but is now one of the country's most impoverished and dangerous cities, he returned to Flint with the intention of buying a house. What he found was a place of stark contrasts and dramatic stories, where an exotic dancer can afford a lavish mansion, speculators scoop up cheap houses by the dozen on eBay, and arson is often the quickest route to neighborhood beautification. Skillfully blending personal memoir, historical inquiry, and interviews with Flint residents, Young constructs a vibrant tale of a once-thriving city still fighting - despite overwhelming odds - to rise from the ashes. He befriends a rag-tag collection of urban homesteaders and die-hard locals who refuse to give up as they try to transform Flint into a smaller, greener town that offers lessons for cities all over the world. Hard-hitting, insightful, and often painfully funny, "Teardown" reminds us that cities are ultimately defined by people, not politics or economics.
Prologue: Summer 2009 Part One 1 Pink Houses and Panhandlers 2 Bottom-Feeders 3 Bourgeois Homeowners 4 Virtual Vehicle City 5 Bad Reputation 6 The Road to Prosperity 7 Bar Logic 8 Downward Mobility 9 Black and White 10 The Forest Primeval 11 The Naked Truth 12 The Toughest Job in Politics 13 Urban Homesteaders Part Two 14 Quitters Never Win 15 Burning Down the House 16 Emotional Rescue 17 Get Real 18 Living Large 19 Fading Murals 20 Gun Club 21 Bargaining with God 22 Psycho Killer Part Three 23 Winter Wonderland 24 Home on the Range 25 California Dreamin' 26 Thankless Task 27 Joy to the World Epilogue: Summer 2012 Updates Acknowledgments Notes Sources and Further Reading Index