Gordon Young

Gordon Young attempts to enliven a family photo of his mom, grandparents, and older brother in front of his Civic Park home on the day his brother graduated from high school in June of 1972.

The vacant pink house in Carriage Town where Gordon Young slept on the floor during the summer of 2009 was once owned by Charles W. Nash, an indentured servant who rose to become president of General Motors. (Photo by Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

Dan Kildee, the pied piper of the “shrinking city” movement, wants Flint and other troubled urban areas across the country to accept the reality of decline and negative growth. (Photo by Gordon Young)

Another abandoned house that fell victim to arson on Jane Avenue in Flint’s devastated East Side. Only a single residence remains on a block once filled with small homes built primarily for autoworkers and their families. (Photo by Gordon Young)

On a muggy summer day in 2009, candidates Dayne Walling and Brenda Clack momentarily joined forces to judge a Kool-Aid making contest during their battle to become the next mayor of Flint. (Photo by Gordon Young)

In 1954, more than 100,000 people crowded downtown Flint for a parade celebrating the 50 millionth car produced by General Motors. A “milestone car” — a gold-colored Chevy with gold-plated parts — rolled off the assembly line to mark the occasion. (Photo courtesy of The Flint Journal)

The Art Deco splendor of the Mott Foundation Building is countered by the bland modernism of the abandoned Genesee Towers, the city’s tallest building, as snow falls on downtown Flint in December of 2010. (Photo by Gordon Young)

A postcard exalts “Buick’s Busy Acres,” the massive factory complex with 7,500,000 sq. ft. of floor space that helped Flint achieve one of the highest per capita income levels in the world. The ill-fated St. John neighborhood is visible in the top right-hand corner.

A dead deer sprawls in front of an entrance to the demolished Buick factory complex, now one of the nation’s largest brownfields, located in the heart of Flint. (Photo by Gerry Godin)

Michael Freeman and Perry Compton in the 12-room Victorian that the couple purchased in 1994 for $25,000. The house, built by a transplanted New York businessman in 1872, had been chopped up into five apartments. (Photo by Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

The entryway of Freeman and Compton’s Carriage Town home with its sweeping staircase and elaborate plasterwork. They estimate that they have spent more than $100,000 renovating the house. (Photo by Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times)

Dave and Judy Starr in the living room of their two-story Civic Park house, which is now worth less than the $14,500 they paid for it in 1968. “We’re not going anywhere,” Judy said. “This is our home.” (Photo by Gordon Young)

Pastor Sherman McCathern on the altar of Joy Tabernacle Church in Civic Park, where he leads a congregation beset by crime, unemployment, and heartache. “I told God that if I can’t help these people create jobs and opportunity, I can’t stay here and just preach to people and get them all dressed up with no place to go,” he said. “And that’s what I believe God has promised me.” (Photo by Gordon Young)

Throughout the city, abandoned houses like this one in Civic Park are ravaged by thieves known as scrappers in search of any metal they can resell — doorknobs, radiators, aluminum siding, but especially copper wiring and plumbing. (Photo by Gordon Young)

P-Nut (left) and Aaron (right) with Gordon Young after a day spent painting P-Nut’s new home in Civic Park, just a few blocks away from the house where Young grew up. (Photo by Sherman McCathern)