I hope that this incredibly sad story does not spread to more and more American cities.
Kearney, an 18-year-old aspiring architect, persuaded his father to travel with him from Britain to Detroit to participate in one of the city's few burgeoning industries: tours of abandoned factories, churches and schools.
Led by tour guide Jesse Welter, they crawled on their hands and knees to peek inside a train station closed long ago; they squeezed through a gap in a fence to climb the stairs of what was once a luxury high-rise; they ducked under crumbling doorways to see a forgotten ballroom where the Who held its first U.S. concert.
"In Detroit, you can relate, you can see traces of what's happened, you can really feel the history of a city," Kearney said. "In Europe, when things become derelict, they'll demolish them."
That's not possible here. The city estimates it has 78,000 vacant structures, and demolishing each derelict residential building costs $8,000 — money the bankrupt city can't afford.
His experience touring crumbling ballrooms and onetime high-end residences caused him to think long and hard about what lessons Detroit can teach the rest of the country.
"It makes you question your mortality as a species. We try to make our mark on the planet by building these concrete and brick structures, but Rome obviously fell," he said. "What is Manhattan going to look like in 300 years? Is it still going to be a bustling metropolis?"
Will we take the lessons of Detroit and learn from them?