Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2006 Why some neighborhoods still strong? Previous Next
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Focusonthed
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Username: Focusonthed

Post Number: 22
Registered: 02-2006
Posted From: 209.220.229.254
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 2:14 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Forgive me, but I'm fairly new to the Detroit area. Background: I've lived in Michigan for 5 years now, in Metro D by virtue of my parents (who I didn't live with mostly) for 2 years, and lived alone in Ferndale for 6 months now. My mothers side of the family are all native Westsiders, with my grandparents hailing from GR/Outer Drive and 14th/Davison, respectively, and my mother from Dearborn.

I'm familiar with a lot of the events causing the gradual downfall of Detroit, but why have some neighborhoods lived on in a fairly decent representation of the way they were, compared to others?

For instance, Grand River as a corridor seems to be in much better than Gratiot or Michigan. Similarly, there are the pockets of original construction still well-maintained along E. Jefferson. Why have some of these areas stayed intact while others were vacated, then dilapidated, then burned/torn down?

And for God's sake, what happened on the near east side north of Jefferson (chene area)?
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Jams
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Username: Jams

Post Number: 2861
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 69.212.123.178
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 2:23 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Are you talking about Chene, north of Gratiot?
Chene between Jefferson and Gratiot is a very nice area.
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Focusonthed
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Username: Focusonthed

Post Number: 24
Registered: 02-2006
Posted From: 209.220.229.254
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 2:25 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yes, sorry, Chene between Gratiot and Ford Fwy...even over to some parts of The Blvd.
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Barnesfoto
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Username: Barnesfoto

Post Number: 1746
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.2.148.176
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 3:11 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

1. Ford FW cut neighborhood in half
2. population aged, young folks began moving to other places
3. GM Poletown project in 81 removed other half of neighborhood.
4. mid-eighties crack epidemic hit like ton of bricks.
5. Incinerator ignited, neighborhood dominated by smell of rotting trash in summer, emissions all year round
6. And of course, crime....
I'm sure there are some other motives...perhaps there was no strong, organized community group. But when you combine all those factors, (and I've left out a couple, like twenty years of Coleman Young) well, it's amazing that anything is left there.
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Wmuchris
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Username: Wmuchris

Post Number: 252
Registered: 06-2005
Posted From: 69.58.36.2
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 3:36 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Good summary
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Mackinaw
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 1241
Registered: 02-2005
Posted From: 141.213.173.94
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 3:50 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Add the far east side along between Jefferson and Warren to the list of largely vacated areas.
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Neilr
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Username: Neilr

Post Number: 205
Registered: 06-2005
Posted From: 69.242.215.65
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 5:20 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Additional factors to consider:

1) As population drropped and people no longer shopped close to home, the commercial strips became no longer as needed, then vacant.

2) As the east side auto factories and supply shops moved further out of the city after WWII, lots of jobs disappeared. People followed the jobs.

3) FHA & GI mortgages were generally not available in those areas.

4) As some racial barriers tumbled in the 60's and 70's, better off black folks poured into NW Detroit and beyond, leaving the elderly and the poor behind.

5) It used to be that neighborhoods were socially and economicly integrated. The doctors and store owners lived near their offices and shops. That's why you can still see houses in old neighborhoods that are much nicer than their neighbors. They were positioned to be role models for the whole community. Now they all live far away from their offices and shops.

6) Significantly, when your mother could run into your teacher at church, at the grocery store, or on the street; chances are much better that you are going to do well in school. This interaction also helped stabilize neighborhoods. Alas, ...


7) The building of x-ways and urban renewal projects displaced large numbers of folks who doubled up in the near west side which led to the deterioration of many neighborhoods. Which was a contributing factor to the '67 riot. Which led to even further abandonment.

8) In the 50's the Water Board began selling water to vast areas enabling vast tracts of housing to be built outside of the city. This, in turn, lessened demand for housing in Detroit.

9) We, as a city, do not seem to be as welcoming of immigrants, from within or without the country, who could fill up these areas. Except in SW Detroit, where new residents are flocking.

Focusonthed, you have asked a question that has no easy, clean answer. These are just some of my thoughts.
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Rayraydetroit
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Username: Rayraydetroit

Post Number: 3
Registered: 02-2006
Posted From: 67.72.98.45
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 5:37 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

or try the streets south of East Jefferson just west of Grosse Pointe. Many of the homes look the same. You can't tell when you cross the border.
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Southwestmap
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Username: Southwestmap

Post Number: 405
Registered: 01-2005
Posted From: 64.79.90.206
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 5:45 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Ray - are you being sarcastic about "you can't tell when you cross the border?" The neighborhood you describe is devastated in comparison to it's 1960's identity.
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Southwestmap
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Username: Southwestmap

Post Number: 406
Registered: 01-2005
Posted From: 64.79.90.206
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 5:50 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Some important history about what happened to Detroit:

"In 1968, Congress passed the National Housing Act, which provided for
federally insured mortgages to poor people in inner cities, among others. The
act created the Section 235 program to provide heavily subsidized loans for
low-income families and individuals to allow them to buy homes, with special
assistance for mothers on welfare. The most serious problem with the program was
housing abandonment--since most families had almost no equity in their homes, it
was cheaper for them to abandon the house than to sell it. Tens of thousands of
homes emptied and were left to rot in previously stable neighborhoods.

Particularly hard-hit was Detroit, where Mayor Roman Gribbs declared that a
single abandoned house on a block "becomes a magnet for vandalism, crime, fire,
blight, drug addiction, and other kinds of socially pathological forces." The
Detroit News opined that the program was turning Detroit neighborhoods into
"'ghost towns' where a handful of families exist amid vandalized and fire-gutted
homes." Detroit City Council President Carl Levin called it "Hurricane HUD."
Between 1970 and 1976, HUD took over 13 percent of the housing stock in
Detroit--25,000 homes--after owners abandoned the houses or defaulted. June
Ridgway of the Detroit Board of Assessors declared in 1976, "HUD has cost every
citizen in Detroit 20 percent on his house."
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Gistok
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Username: Gistok

Post Number: 1847
Registered: 08-2004
Posted From: 4.229.105.119
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 7:49 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Another factor in how well a neighborhood survived is the quality of the housing stock.

Wooden houses usually fared the worst. Many had those hiddeous asbestos shingles, they were built close together with a garage in back that only opened to the ally.

Then the next worst were those 3 story lookalike houses with 1st and 2nd story front porches and that small 3rd story dormer with hip roof above. These homes fared badly as well. These are also ones that are built so closely next to each other without a driveway between (all garages entered thru the alley).

The best housing stock were those all brick houses that had style, usually 2 stories tall, not the same architecture as the surrounding houses, spacing between the houses because they all had driveways with a 2 car garage and no alley.
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Bvos
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Username: Bvos

Post Number: 1225
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 68.255.241.205
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 7:53 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

One reason that Rosedale Park (GR/Outer Drive) is still a largely strong residential neighborhood today is due to strong neighborhood associations.

Neighborhood associations are able to put a lot of umph behind complaints to the city. When the president of the neighborhood association call about street lights being out or a crime problem, the person on the other end of the line knows there are hundreds of people the assoc. president is representing. If the Assoc. president doesn't get the response required, there will be hundreds of calls coming in to the point where it is just easier to get the problem fixed than deal with all the phone calls and media attention.

These strong neighborhood associations in Rosedale Park and North Rosedale Park were made up of well conected professionals (city workers, city contractors, business owners, campaign volunteers/contributors, etc) and they still are to this day. They also have very high voting turnout which also makes politicians take notice at all times.

I think it is a safe bet that behind every nice neighborhood in Detroit there is a very strong neighborhood association.
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Mackinaw
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 1247
Registered: 02-2005
Posted From: 141.213.173.94
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 8:45 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

But the three-story look-alikes with the front porches and rear alley entrances on the last five streets in GP Park along the Detroit border seem to be holding up well.

From what I know, this neighborhood is not built much different that the now dilapadated and mostly gone far east side neighborhood of Detroit to its west. I agree with all your observations, Gistok, but it is no coincidence that access to schools and public safety made all the difference in the world for similar neighborhoods within blocks of each other.
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Gildas
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Username: Gildas

Post Number: 463
Registered: 12-2004
Posted From: 69.222.64.169
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 9:53 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

East English Village is on the far east side, and has the houses mentioned above, and a very strong community association. EEV, coincidently is also doing pretty well as a nice community and good place to live.
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Pffft
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Username: Pffft

Post Number: 810
Registered: 12-2003
Posted From: 69.221.72.241
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 10:58 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I don't know that I'd agree that houses being close together don't bode well for a community. Back east it's the norm, and they call them rowhouses. My grandfather used to just park his Chrysler Imperial in the street, in front of the rowhouse. No need to use the alley, there were no garages back there.
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Gistok
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Username: Gistok

Post Number: 1850
Registered: 08-2004
Posted From: 4.229.186.81
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 11:01 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Correct Mackinaw, anyone who wants to see how much of older Detroit looked like in the 1950's needs only to look at Wayburn and Maryland Streets (at the top of my head, I can't remember the other 3) in GPP. Really Deja Vu!!

Very true Gildas, I just wish the business community along that 6 block stretch of Warren Ave would improve (E. Outer Dr. to Cadieux), and then there's the still standing Alger Theatre. I wish it could be developed.

(Message edited by Gistok on March 07, 2006)
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Mackinaw
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 1248
Registered: 02-2005
Posted From: 141.213.173.94
Posted on Tuesday, March 07, 2006 - 11:33 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Warren isn't too bad from Alter to Mack.

Mack and its solid retail/restaurant scene really holds up that arm of Detroit north of GP from EEV to Moross pretty well.

I agree with Gildas but, for the most part, EEV homes, especially along Outer Dr. and vicinity, really resemble the homes along the north side of Grosse Pointe Park (as opposed to the west side close-together rentals). 50-70 ft. wide lots with mostly pre 1930s homes on the order of 1500-3500 sf with driveways and detached garages are common here. Regardless, this neighborhood is doing very well.
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Neilr
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Username: Neilr

Post Number: 206
Registered: 06-2005
Posted From: 69.242.215.65
Posted on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 12:07 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Mackinaw, what happens in GPP when houses are sold? Do all properties have to be brought up to current standards before the new owner can move in? Does the city of GPP enforce standards for rental property?
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Mackinaw
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 1249
Registered: 02-2005
Posted From: 141.213.173.94
Posted on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 1:11 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I'm sure there are standards for the landlords handling the rentals, but I'm not playing that game just yet (when I have real income I think this would be a good source of income---and a good place to live while I'm gettin' started.)

There are inspections for new constuction (additions, etc.) which are mandatory, and I think inspections are optional for actual transactions. That's a good question. The cities don't seem to be too overbearing, and we don't have neighborhood associations outside of a couple exceptions.

The access to schools and the near proximity to Detroit (appealing to people who work or go to school downtown) is what makes the rentals in GPP so cohesive.
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Bvos
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Username: Bvos

Post Number: 1226
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.238.170.51
Posted on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 9:32 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The area south of Jefferson a few blocks east of Altar and a few blocks west of Altar was originally the same subdivision and developed at the same time. When Detroit was annexing land like crazy they were only able to annex half the subdivision before GPP incorporated to stop Detroit from further annexation. If you look closely, you'll see the same houses on both sides of Altar, although in different levels maintenance.
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Mackinaw
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 1250
Registered: 02-2005
Posted From: 141.213.173.94
Posted on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 10:42 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Man I gotta get back over there and take a drive? I don't recall what I saw the last time I was over in the canal area there, but I don't remember the homes on the Detroit side being quite as ecletic (or built out of brick as much) as the homes along Barrington/Pemberton in GPP (streets after Alter). But yeah both sides of Alter look similar.
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Southwestmap
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Username: Southwestmap

Post Number: 407
Registered: 01-2005
Posted From: 64.79.90.206
Posted on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 12:23 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Mackinaw is correct. I grew up on Chalmers, three blocks south of Jefferson, in the area being described. While they were lovely four- and five- bedroom homes, they were frame (many) on small lots with single car garages. Not like the homes on Barrington and Westchester below Jefferson at all.

They had, its true, breakfast rooms and fireplaces, they were basically pretty 1930's cottage-like (that is, in the romantic style)homes.
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Mackinaw
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 1251
Registered: 02-2005
Posted From: 141.213.173.94
Posted on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 12:59 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Now Chalmers, that's still a pretty nice street today. I'm pretty sure they have a neighborhood association south of Jefferson. In fact that whole area from Chalmers to Lenox south of Jefferson is pretty okay. There is that newer subvdivision north of Averhill, the Fisher mansion, and a decent old neighborhood that has held together from Averhill to the water. I bet if areas north of Jefferson hadn't emptied out so much St. Martin church right there by the Fisher mansion would still be open. I notice it has not been sold, though.
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Southwestmap
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Username: Southwestmap

Post Number: 409
Registered: 01-2005
Posted From: 64.79.90.206
Posted on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 1:12 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

St. Martin's is coming up to be sold. I believe that there are three proposals offering near or at the price the AofD has set. One is a Baptist Church. One is a sympathetic commercial enterprise interested in the land only.

This was a neighborhood hard-hit by the HUD scandal I wrote about above. I can't say that Lakewood near Jefferson is in good shape. No upkeep on those once-fine houses.
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Mackinaw
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 1252
Registered: 02-2005
Posted From: 141.213.173.94
Posted on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 3:29 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks for that piece of info about the church. Had to figure with the archdiocese reorganization that they'd be selling some assets. When you said sympathetic commercial enterprise, did you mean someone who wanted the land holdings just as a long term investment with no plans to tear down the church?
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Southwestmap
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Username: Southwestmap

Post Number: 415
Registered: 01-2005
Posted From: 64.79.90.206
Posted on Wednesday, March 08, 2006 - 4:34 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

No, the Church would go - but the proposal is one that, in my opinion would be, though commercial, nevertheless, a nice use of the property.

Some proposals came through in the past few years - but financing fell though. That could happen again.

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