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This summer the editors at Time Inc. did something a little out of the ordinary for us or, frankly, for anybody: we bought a house in Detroit. As houses go, it's nice enough — three stories, five bedrooms, 3½ baths with a yard and a basement. We paid $99,000, about $80,000 above the average price of a house in the city limits.
Why would we ever do such a thing? Because we believe that Detroit right now is a great American story. No city has had more influence on the country's economic and social evolution. Detroit was the birthplace of both the industrial age and the nation's middle class, and the city's rise and fall — and struggle to rise again — are a window into the challenges facing all of modern America. From urban planning to the crisis of manufacturing, from the lingering role of race and class in our society to the struggle for better health care and education, it's all happening at its most extreme in the Motor City.