Motor City Misery

Fans hold up a sign reading "0-16" in front of Detroit Lions defensive tackle Andre Fluellen (96) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Dec. 28, 2008, in Green Bay, Wis.
AP Photo/Morry Gash

Folks in Detroit can be forgiven if they don't say "happy new year" with conviction this year.

Detroit has the nation's highest poverty rate among large cities. It also has one of the nation's lowest median incomes. Those problems have been compounded by the unraveling of the auto industry. Even the hapless Detroit Lions couldn't manage a single win this year, reports CBS News correspondent Armen Keteyian, a Detroit native.

Not so long ago, Detroit drove the American dream, fueled by the of the automotive industry and organized labor. It was blue collar to the bone, innovative enough to bring us now classic cars and the Motown sound that changed music; Strong enough to survive the long hot summer of '67 that nearly burned it to the ground.

But nothing in its rich history compares to what the motor city wakes up to today.

"The mood in Detroit since I've been here, which is 25 years, has never been this glum," says Mitch Albom, a celebrated author, columnist and radio host in Detroit. "We're used to tough times and it's a pretty strong-backboned city. But whatever is happening to the rest of the country, you could pretty much multiply it by 10 and say, well, that's what's going on here in Detroit."

What's going on is hard to believe: failing car companies, record foreclosures. double-digit unemployment, a once-promising mayor now behind bars. The downtown is a virtual ghost town.

One restaurant owner says his business is down 50 percent from last year.

Pro sports have long been the elixir in Detroit - world championships easing the collective pain. But the once-beloved Lions decended into the laughingstock of the NFL.

Hapless, hopeless, winless this season, they finished 0-16, setting a new record for futility.

To the downright despair of so many in Detroit, the Lions have turned into the very image image of the city: Plagued by poor design, faulty engineering, bad parts, and the wrong men behind the wheel -- an assembly line of problems that dates back decades."

Sill, amid all the anger and despair, there is toughness and resolve. There is, after all, the spirit of Detroit.

"If you don't have hope, especially in a city like this, you don't have anything," says Albom. "So we wake up every day and hope it will get better."