Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2007 A slice of a once-great neighborhood: what happened here? Previous Next
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Mackinaw
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 2299
Registered: 02-2005
Posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 2:36 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Charlevoix, between Ellery and Elmwood. I drive past here a lot and wonder what has held this neighborhood--just a block, really-- of old frame houses together, while the rest of the Vernor/Mack/Gratiot/Mt. Elliot neighborhood has almost completely emptied? Why this beautiful slice of urban fabric? Why here?

Does anyone know anybody who lives here? Are these dedicated homeowners, or good landlords who rent and keep up these places? Is there a block association (not uncommon where you see nice blocks among decimated areas especially on the east side)?

here are good aerial photographs:
http://local.live.com/default. aspx?v=2&cp=42.355759~-83.0227 83&style=h&lvl=18&tilt=-90&dir =0&alt=-1000&scene=5643282
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Cman710
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Username: Cman710

Post Number: 155
Registered: 07-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 2:44 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I would be interested to hear the story of that block, too. I am sure there is some interesting background there.
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Iheartthed
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Username: Iheartthed

Post Number: 281
Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 3:41 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

That site is a little too much like Big Brother.
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Mackinaw
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 2300
Registered: 02-2005
Posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 4:02 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Especially the always-expanding 'birds-eye' section where I can look at my house from 4 angles.

I do love this tool for surveying the city, though.
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Terryh
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Username: Terryh

Post Number: 43
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 6:53 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

That particular area was more than likely home to German followed by Italian immigrants before and after the turn of the 19th century.
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Charlottepaul
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Username: Charlottepaul

Post Number: 181
Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 6:56 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

That is very very unusual to see that many homes existing (pretty much all of them) and almost none left on any block in any direction, even for Detroit. Good observation; need an answer...
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Terryh
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Username: Terryh

Post Number: 45
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 7:09 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Charlotte some of the neighborhoods Ive explored have a rural-country look with all the vacant lots and trees.
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Mackinaw
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 2302
Registered: 02-2005
Posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 7:18 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

This is true, Terryh. Along other portions of the Charlevoix and Vernor corridors there are a lot of well-kept homes which have bought neighboring lots, and when they cut the lawn and plant gardens and build picket fences, it creates a low-density pastoral-type setting within the city that is just wild. There are other examples of well-kept-together blocks amid highly empty neighborhoods, but this is perhaps the most striking, especially since all of the homes behind this row are gone, and these people could all have huge backyards with frontage on the next street if they were able to purchase those empty lots.
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Terryh
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Username: Terryh

Post Number: 49
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 7:46 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Ive noticed quite a bit of wildlife in Suburbs and city (Im originally from semi-rural Lapeer County). Ive seen more Skunks; Raccoons; Rabbits and Possum in city -suburb as opposed to where I am from. Ive witnessed Deer galloping through parking lots. Seen Hawks stalking and hunting. Saw a Fox.
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220hendrie1910
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Username: 220hendrie1910

Post Number: 57
Registered: 02-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 7:54 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Here's another island of house-pride, this one several blocks long: Lakewood Street between Kercheval and Warren. Air photos suggest that this street has deeper lots than its parallels; perhaps the construction was better also.

Curious in Ottawa.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 2074
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 7:55 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Maybe some of Wisconsin's famous Bigfoot legends might make it to rural Detroit's East Side.

(Message edited by LivernoisYard on January 04, 2007)
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Terryh
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Username: Terryh

Post Number: 51
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 8:00 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

You seem kind of cynical about the 'D' Livernoisyard? Why the hostility?
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Detroit_stylin
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Username: Detroit_stylin

Post Number: 3523
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 8:10 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Pay no attention to LY. He never has anything positive to say about the city...
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Scottr
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Username: Scottr

Post Number: 141
Registered: 07-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 8:17 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Terryh - I'm from Davison, and worked in Metamora for a couple years before going to a job in Warren, and although i still think i saw more in Lapeer county, i was still amazed at the amount i saw down there - my list is much the same as yours.

This is definitely interesting though, it makes me wonder what happened here that didn't happen other places - and can it be repeated elsewhere?
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 2076
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 8:26 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Raccoons and possums typically overwinter in city sewers throughout the Midwest, so that's no big deal. There were plenty of pheasants in Detroit the past few years, especially along railroad ROWs. I have seen deer trails and droppings in or near railroad yards in Detroit. That's pretty routine if one knows where to look and what to look for.
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Royce
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Username: Royce

Post Number: 1996
Registered: 07-2004
Posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 10:23 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Mackinaw, I'm going to say that most of those homes are probably owned by the same owner or family for over 30 years. My parents have lived in their eastside home that's not far from that area since 1960.

Out of the homes that remain on an abandoned street, most of them belong to elderly homeowners who have paid off their homes and can't leave or choose not to leave.

(Message edited by royce on January 05, 2007)
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Titancub
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Username: Titancub

Post Number: 26
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Thursday, January 04, 2007 - 10:35 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Don't have an answer on this neighborhood, but this site below has a few entries and interesting photos of the State Fair area which is going through its own re-ruralizing due to all the vacant lots.

http://www.detroitblog.org/ind ex.php?paged=7
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Professorscott
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Username: Professorscott

Post Number: 8
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 12:24 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

With regard to the animal sightings, Detroit has always been "greener" than most big cities, because of the combination of factors that led Detroit to have a great deal more single family homes with yards than most other cities.

When you have a city comprised of high-rise apartment buildings built right next to each other and every square inch of ground paved, you get no wildlife; when most of your population had a 40' x 100' lot to call its own with a yard and a garden and a few trees, there was someplace for rabbits (and snakes, skunks, mice, pheasants, etc.) to hang out.

A newspaper in upstate New York, some eighteen years ago, ran a very unflattering feature story on Detroit with the headline "Once Great Detroit Now Vast Wasteland". It was a story claiming that the sighting of wildlife was a sign that the "once great" city was returning to nature. OK, true, our population is way down; but the fact is we never completely LEFT nature. Unlike New York :-)

Prof. Scott
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Citylover
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Username: Citylover

Post Number: 2009
Registered: 07-2004
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 1:16 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Spare me what a load of crap.Wildlife has returned to Detroit because of the vast amounts of now vacant land_ land that once had houses neighborhoods and people.

To call it a wasteland is wrong but please don't try to portray things as anything other then what they are.
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Mackinaw
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 2307
Registered: 02-2005
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 1:42 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The vacant land has enhanced it, but Detroit, outside of downtown and a couple other spots, is low-density compared to most cities, and this truly permits wildlife.

Hey, Ann Arbor doesn't have any blight (except for the Bagel Factory on South U.) but since its neighborhoods are low-density you see skunks and racoons. Detroit neighborhoods, vacant or not, are similar.

But let's stay on topic...
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Professorscott
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Username: Professorscott

Post Number: 17
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 1:57 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Since when do we have to stay on topic? :-)
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Mayor_sekou
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Username: Mayor_sekou

Post Number: 371
Registered: 09-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 2:47 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I think the city especially within the Grand Blvd loop and close to the river should be zoned MUCH denser. It disgust me to see the single family homes of Corktown and Brush Park so close to downtown. I expect to see this in Lansing not in a city that once had 2 million people.
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Toolbox
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Username: Toolbox

Post Number: 1019
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 7:11 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)


quote:

Mayor_sekou
It disgust me to see the single family homes of Corktown and Brush Park so close to downtown.




If you had half a clue you would know how ungodly far those houses were from the city center when when built a century or more ago.
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Miss_cleo
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Username: Miss_cleo

Post Number: 381
Registered: 05-2005
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 7:48 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I just LOVE living in Charlevoix!
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Norwalk
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Username: Norwalk

Post Number: 11
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 8:52 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I recall a couple years ago exploring that neighborhood and coming across a street of very well kept homes and I recall a church across the street and at the time I thought that might be what was holding this street together.
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Danny
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Username: Danny

Post Number: 5374
Registered: 02-2004
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 9:03 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

When I've went to the lower east side Detroit ghettohood and spotted some well kept up wood frame colonials, its up the people of that community keep those homes in tact. And when I've saw some black and blighted ghettohoods next door its kind of up to those block busting slumlords, everyday violent crime and careless house fires to turn that hood down.
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Pam
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Username: Pam

Post Number: 827
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 9:46 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)


quote:

It disgust me to see the single family homes of Corktown and Brush Park so close to downtown. I expect to see this in Lansing not in a city that once had 2 million people.




2 million spread over a lot of area. I thought that historically this was considered one of the pluses of Detroit. We never had people jammed into tenements like NYC.
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Detroitstar
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Username: Detroitstar

Post Number: 415
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 10:08 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Pam, is not a single family home better than an unoccupied home? I fail to see where your point is. Detroit used to have 2 million, but right now we're lucky to have 850,000 I don't think we should complain about the groups that chose or where they chose to live here in the city.
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Pam
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Username: Pam

Post Number: 828
Registered: 11-2005
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 10:30 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)


quote:

I fail to see where your point is.




I was responding to comments above about the city not being "dense" enough. My point was, even at peak population, Detroit was not as dense as some other cities. To me that is a good thing.
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Mackinaw
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 2309
Registered: 02-2005
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 11:22 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

When Detroit was "full", it had a population density of 5,000 to nearly 70,000/sq. mile across the city. Today the average population density of the city is around 7,000/sq. mile, scarcely more than some SUBURBS like east Dearborn, Ferndale, and GP. Compare all these numbers to New York City's current average of over 26,000/sq. mile.

See this series of density maps: http://www.cus.wayne.edu/conte nt/maps/Det-historical-popdens ity.pdf

The point: Detroit is very large, but this allows it to contain a variety of neighborhood types. And Citylover's basic point that Detroit is incredibly empty compared to what it could be is absolutely true (I just differed in believing that a lot of nature could exist even in a "full" Detroit).

I would prefer Detroit to have more density, but I think if we saw Detroit in its prime, even though most of the neighborhoods across the city were/are single family detached homes, we would consider it pretty dense. Check out that 1950 census density map, our 'central city' from downtown straight up the Woodward corridor to Davison, was packed, rivaling the densest of American cities. Detroit did and still does have rows of apartment buildings: think John R., Cass, Woodward, E. Jefferson. Also, bear in mind all the central city neighborhoods that have been destroyed for freeways and for low-density "renewal" such as the entire lower east side all the way to Mt. Elliot Street.

At the end of the day, we must conclude that Detroit was appealing because of the vast array of densities and neighborhood types that people could live in. There were plenty of lower-density areas for Pam, and plenty of higher density neighborhoods (not just downtown, either...look at all the large apartment buildings and townhouses mixed in with regular houses in the West Village-Van Dyke-East Grand neighborhoods). There is nothing disgusting about neighborhoods like Corktown and Brush Park--from the 1800s--that featured single-family detached dwellings so close to the central city. Let's not forget that, as the population grew in the 1900s, many of these homes got split up and were more like boarding houses/apartment homes. What is disgusting is that more than half of our downtown is surface parking lots. Let's do something about that.
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Professorscott
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Username: Professorscott

Post Number: 18
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 11:55 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Well put, Mackinaw. Regarding your final point, the reason so much of our downtown is surface parking lots comes down to two things:

1. Just about everybody who wants to come downtown has to drive because our transit system is inadequate for most people;

2. Land values are still low enough that a surface parking lot is an economically viable use.

If land values were higher, it would be more practical to build parking decks, which would of course reduce the quantity of land used for automobile parking. If transit was decent, there would not be such a need to park cars. (For instance, in Toronto when they built the new baseball stadium several years ago they did not provide ANY parking whatsoever.)

I realize my posts tend to harp on transit, but it's the one basic thing where we do worse than any other big city you care to name.

Cheers,
Professor Scott
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Swiburn
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Username: Swiburn

Post Number: 27
Registered: 07-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 11:56 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I really enjoyed looking at the farmland sites in the State Fair neighborhood-I hope the blogger can do some more sites. The wildlife pictures are beautiful.
The lower East Side of Detroit was dense in the l950s, but then l0 factories there closed, the people moved away, the tax base lessened, the houses were foreclosed, the city tore them down, etc. And it is cheaper to renovate factories/build condominiums and apts then single houses on single lots. Read "Detroit, Origins of the Urban Crisis" by Thomas Sugrues.
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Mackinaw
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Username: Mackinaw

Post Number: 2311
Registered: 02-2005
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 1:49 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Profscott, you can never talk about the lack of transit/transit usage enough.

Swiburn, indeed Sugrue's book has some great chapters on Detroit housing, especially the critical period in the 1940s when we had overcrowding in the central city coupled with all of the segregation in other neighborhoods which put minorities and poor people in the central city in really bad condition. He then descibes how the 'slum' of the lower near-east side, which contained most of these poorer people and especially blacks, was torn up for the highway and modernist projects that we have now. That book is also instrumental in showing the 'not in my backyard' attitude of many Detroiters when it came to housing projects; the city had planned for several projects around the newly or recently developing fringe neighborhoods (Sugrue has the map in his book), and neighbors went as far as violently protesting to keep the projects out. While I don't know if there was a protest or not for this site, I found it interesting to learn that the city planned a project in NE Detroit just north of Mack by GP where there is currently a row of auto dealers by Marseilles/Farmbrook, an area of the city mostly developed in the 40s. To think that there was almost a housing project across from the Grosse Pointe city line is shocking. Finally, Sugrue does well to describe the development of the low density NW Detroit neighborhoods near 8-mile and the Redford border. Many blacks succeeded in having homeownership here, but this was one of the first examples of sprawling, low density modernism in the area. ...some of Sugrue's other chapters lose me, but he is spot-on when it comes to telling the Detroit housing story.
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Fareastsider
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Username: Fareastsider

Post Number: 40
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 3:38 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I disagree about the comments of google earth being big brother. I think it is nothing short of amazing, imagine seeing that just 10 years ago it would be almost unthinkable. It is a useful and educational tool unrivaled. I like to use it when I am exploring and I cant get to a certain place or sometimes I find an interesting place and go check it out.
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Scottr
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Username: Scottr

Post Number: 145
Registered: 07-2006
Posted on Friday, January 05, 2007 - 4:28 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I agree, fareastsider, it's a great resource, especially when i don't know what building people are talking about. microsoft's angle view is incredibly useful for that (i wish google would have something similar). However, i have to admit it is a little creepy at times. The fact that I found my car on google maps didn't help that feeling much. Granted, it was parked in front of my apartment, but still...

Professor Scott, you are completely right on the land value/transit issue. Hopefully in the next few years, as more development occurs this will change.

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