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My old Detroit neighborhood never looked worse

Written By: Terry Foster | June 10, 2012

Filed Under: Life

The day we thought my cousin Miss Boots was missing I drove over to my old west side neighborhood to see if she was OK.

I wanted to cry. Miss Boots was doing well. The old neighborhood was not. It keeps getting worse and worse and for some reason it really hit me how terrible it looked. Vancouver Street was never a ritzy neighborhood but it was a well kept, middle class neighborhood where factory workers, the number runners, drug man and machinists seemed to make it work.

We had a party store, cleaners and church two blocks down. Four blocks of factories churned out auto parts and it was exciting to see trains bring in fresh supplies four blocks away. And you never stepped on any body’s lawn without permission. They were well maintained and looked like tiny patches of Comerica Park.

We were Heather Nebazny.

When I made the left turn toward Vancouver the party store, cleaners and church were burned out wrecks from the riots in 1967. There was garbage all over the place. I drove the car slowly to avoid debris. Ahead about a third of the houses were abandoned or rotting. My neighborhood looked like something from “Escape from New York.”

I really thought I was going to run into Snake Plissken and the Duke.

This is not the only neighborhood crumbling. I sometimes visit friends and they have nice plots in the middle of crumbling neighborhoods. I am smiling and having a good time and at the same time thinking “wtf.” One of my friends packed her things up and just left her house. It was the only one standing in a two block area.

I do not listen to people who say Detroit is back. There are nice places to go downtown. Midtown and Fox town and other areas have made rivivals. It is great to see. I am glad that billionaires are investing downtown. However, the people who say thumbs up to Detroit never go to the neighborhoods. They’ve been abandoned, abused and neglected.

It makes you want to cry.

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3 Responses to “My old Detroit neighborhood never looked worse”

  1. Barry McBride Says:

    Always amazed that there remain burned out buildings from 1967. How does a community allow this for 45 years?

    Reply

  2. Michael Erickson Says:

    Terry, sad but true article and I am sorry to hear about the state of your old neighborhood. All I can say is till the economy gets better and jobs come back to Detroit this is the way it’s going to be. We need to bring manufacturing jobs back to Detroit so these cities and neighborhoods can thrive again. I don’t have an actual solution, but this is what happens when we as America send our jobs over seas. I want Deteoit to come back and I hope we can bring it back, but we have to create jobs ! Have a good day Terry and thank you.

    Reply

  3. Dale Says:

    As a lifetime Detroiter, I’ve grown to accept that there will be no comeback for neighborhoods not directly or indirectly connected with the Downtown / Uptown / Jefferson / East Village Areas.
    Those are communities that would be linked to any corporate and private sector renaissance.

    For one thing, the Public Schools will never be what they were, up to the 1970s. That’s number one: no good schools=no return of young middle-class families.

    There’s property-galore available in the city….miles and miles of it – for cheap….but high insurance costs, an over-stretched police dept, the need to hire security guards, etc, make those properties economically unfeasible.

    Maybe I’m crazy, but….I think in 20-30 years, there will be a new city zoned in Lower Detroit – separate from the rest of the demographic north of I-94 and west of I-75.

    Reply

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