By Dora Apel
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Extra info for Beautiful Terrible Ruins: Detroit and the Anxiety of Decline
8 How could this happen? As the population has declined, water bills have risen 119 percent in a decade in a city with already high rates of unemployment and poverty. Moreover, as one report notes, “As a cost-cutting measure, the DWSD stopped sending bills, expecting residents to just figure out their own bills. ‘Smart meters’ were then installed that read backwards and many families were hit with bills in the thousands of dollars. Many of these bills were from former tenants, and many included water bills from nearby abandoned houses.
3 Joseph Gandy, An Imagined View of the Bank of England in Ruins, 1830. Courtesy of the Trustees of Sir John Soane’s Museum. 9 Hell also suggests that the unique Nazi articulation of imperial creation and destruction represents an anxious awareness and fear of the retaliation that awaited them for the crimes of monstrous proportions they knew they were committing. 10 Although Hitler insisted that his architects build for “eternity,” Speer’s Reich’s Chancellery, his most famous building, completed in 1939, did not crumble picturesquely like the Roman ruins shown to Hitler by Mussolini on his visit to Rome.
6 By the nineteenth century, however, critique of empire entered the romantic lexicon in literature and art. Edward Gibbon’s multivolume history, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776), firmly established the idea of the unstable and transitory nature of all power, and after the 1793 Reign of Terror, romantics became increasingly skeptical of enduring faith in reason and progress. W. Turner’s painting The Decline of the Carthaginian Empire, produced at the height of Great Britain’s wealth and power following the collapse of Napoleon’s empire in 1815, offered another warning of imperial decline, while Joseph Gandy’s painting An Imagined View of the Bank of England in Ruins (1830) pictured the collapse of the major financial underwriter of the Napoleonic Wars (figure 3).