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Irish Hills mirrors Detroit desolation

It is said that as the automobiles go, so does the city of Detroit. And as more people take to the road in southeast Michigan, they are putting miles on their automobiles, leading to more service and replacement. Tourism and autos go hand-in-hand and both drive the southeast Michigan economy.

"Fun" Center -- yeah, right
Irish Hills "Fun" Center - Yeah, right

Unfortunately, the automobile business hasn't been enough to slow down urban flight and urban blight. Ironically, the flight has sometimes taken course along Michigan Avenue from downtown Detroit to the Irish Hills and beyond. The route, also known as U.S. 12 winds through small towns like Saline and the quaint village of Clinton. If traveling from U.S. 23, the Michigan Avenue route spans 34 miles to the west until a popular destination spot along the way in the Irish Hills -- the Michigan International Speedway (MIS).

So it is only natural to assume that people traveling out to the many beautiful lakes, recreation areas, and popular MIS (NASCAR and Indy car racing fans especially) would enjoy stopping along the way at the many roadside tourist attractions along U.S. 12. Alas, they may WANT to stop but there isn't much to see anymore.

Just like some decaying businesses and neighborhoods in pockets of Detroit, the landscape along U.S. 12 has become full of blight and disrepair -- a montage of shuttered buildings and businesses that once were likely vibrant and full of tourists. It appears that most catered to family fun with go-kart tracks and dinosaur parks. Today these same attractions like like skeletal remains, especially the Prehistoric Forest which now resembles an exterior shot from the movie "Jurassic Park 2." Abandoned and haunting. A "Fun" amusement center is no longer "fun." Twin towers above the landscape once housed souvenir shops and lookout points -- now they are two silent giants. A local Irish pub lies in disrepair instead of being full of life.

What happened? We can explain away the Detroit blight by urban flight and present-day poverty and unemployment. But how does one explain the demise of the Irish Hills' attractions? Did time simply pass this area by or are there other reasons? I would certainly like to know. Maybe the answers can provide a key to renaissance and resurrection -- for areas at both ends of Michigan Avenue.

I'd like to know your reaction and input.

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