Emblazoned on Detroit’s city seal is the Latin phrase, “Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus.” Coined in the wake of an 1805 fire that leveled much of the city, it’s equally relevant more than two centuries later. The translation: “We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes.”
The challenges facing the city sometimes seem insurmountable. Tens of thousands of abandoned homes dot the city’s landscape, making redevelopment all but impossible in many areas. The population, which has been declining for generations, dwindled another 25 percent to 716,000 in just the past decade. Last year there were 411 homicides—the highest number in years. And the current unemployment rate of 23.1 percent puts Detroit first among America’s biggest cities.