Photographer Kirk Crippens says you can’t. But that hasn’t stopped him from trying. Since 2009, he has been documenting the city of Stockton, Calif., which last year became the largest city in American history to file for bankruptcy — until Detroit filed yesterday. Before bankruptcy, Stockton was the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis. But before that, Crippens says, it “was an all-American city — Boomtown, USA — housing going up everywhere.”
Stockton is one of California’s largest inland ports. Duraflame, the manufacturer of fire starters, is there. And, at about an hour-and-a-half drive east of San Francisco, it had become a destination for city dwellers wanting more affordable space. Then the housing market imploded.
"Stockton is the canary in the coal mine," says Crippens. "It’s looked at internationally by people who are wondering: Is this gonna happen in Detroit?"
Yesterday it did. Although it’s still not clear what, exactly, that means. “There’s no precedent,” Crippens says. “We don’t know.”
Photo Credit: Kirk Crippens