Tuesday, January 02, 2018

The abandoned homes of Detroit's Delray neighborhood

One of Detroit's overlooked neighborhoods is Delray, an intriguing place on the southwestern end of the city. Its borders are Fort Street to the northwest, McKinney Street to the northeast, the Detroit River and Zug Island to the southeast, and Woodmere Street to the southwest.

Welcome back from what? Bankruptcy? This car wash banner is in River Rouge, a suburb that borders Delray. Between here and residential Delray is a massive sewage facility.

A fire-damaged Delray home.

According to Wikipedia, Delray was incorporated as a village in 1897. Its population was about 5,000. Seven years later Detroit annexed Delray. In 1930 24,000 people lived here. Now just 2,100 or so do. What a fall. So it's no wonder that again according to Wikipedia the Detroit Metro Times called the neighborhood "the closest thing to a ghost town within a city."

Delray was the first neighborhood that I visited in my second and most recent trip to the Motor City two months ago.

Selfies make me look fat.

Delray may be headed for extinction.

From the Detroit Free Press in December:
In a city with plenty of rough neighborhoods, Delray is regarded as one of the worst. It’s been called Detroit’s backwater, its underbelly, the bowels of the region — which it literally is, in a sense, since the city’s wastewater treatment plant is here, receiving and incinerating the contents of everyone’s toilets in Detroit and 77 surrounding communities and filling the air for miles with a God-awful stink 
The Free Press goes on to explain that a proposed bridge, which would be the third between Windsor, Canada and Detroit, along with an adjoining customs center, might all but eliminate Delray.

To the left is a small portion of the Zug Island industrial park. In the foreground is an abandoned retail two flat with apartments.

That's Zug Island, photographed from the opposite bank of the River Rouge. US Steel operates an iron and coke mill here. Visitors are prohibited, which has led to the many urban legends about the place, which include it housing a secret prison, or that scenes from the first Robocop movie were filmed there. Neither are true. Some call it Detroit's Area 51.

The destination for the ill-fated final voyage of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald was Zug Island.

Delray on the left, Zug Island on the right.

By all accounts Zug Island and the area around it, including Delray, is highly polluted. Residents complain about the smells, but I didn't notice any foul odors when I was here. But every ten minutes or so I saw a truck passing though Delray with steaming slag from Zug Island. Amazingly, there are surprisingly few internet references to this phenomenon. As with the el trains outside Elwood Blues' room in the flophouse in The Blues Brothers, I guess they pass by "so often that you won't even notice it."

This stuff is hot!

Residents of Windsor complain of a mysterious hum, which has been traced to Zug.

Another abandoned storefront.

Delray's population is roughly split three ways between whites, blacks, and Hispanics. It was renowned for its large Hungarian-American population. Holy Cross Holy Cross Hungarian Church still offers services--in both English and Hungarian.

Just two days ago All Saints Catholic Church, a predominately Hispanic church, closed.

In most cities houses such as this one are quickly demolished. But not this one at 735 Sloan.

From 1842 until 1948 Fort Wayne, named for Revolutionary War general Anthony "Mad Anthony" Wayne was an active army base in Delray, it's now an historical park. As it was not open on the days I was in Detroit, I was unable to visit. That was a real pity. Fort Wayne was built for a war between the British Empire and Canada that never came.

Detroit is the seat of Wayne County, which is also named for Wayne.

Lonely Planet picked Detroit as its number two choice of cities to visit this year. Having places like Fort Wayne opened seven days a week might seal the deal to be its top pick.

If Claude Monet was an urban explorer he would have painted this scene for sure.

My obligatory "Detroit alley" shot.

"Dumpers beware!" Someone is fighting back. As I explained in earlier post, illegal dumping is a serious problem in Detroit. Much of that dumping is committed by suburbanites.

Here's a mess that you can't blame on jerks from the boonies. That rubble came from the building, or what is left of it, in the background.

As with many other Detroit neighborhoods,. there is an eerie quietness in Delray.

Here's another "Monet shot," at the corner of Gould and Harrington.

I observed some odd behavior on this corner. As soon as I parked my Honda Civic a man in a pickup truck parked right behind me and he stared in my direction for five minutes, creeping me out as I looked into my rear view mirror. Across the street an attractive young woman stood on her front porch--she stared at me as well. Then a sedan pulled up a few minutes later--the woman hopped in.

Perhaps it was nothing.

Just come on in!

This is the corner of Jefferson and Green. How long has that tree been sitting on that sidewalk? Six weeks later I'll wager you that it is still there.

Not much left here.

And not much left here either.

The root of Detroit's widespread tire dumping problem is a Michigan law that compels tire sellers to charge a recycling fee for each replaced tire. So far so good. But many retailers charge anywhere from $3 to $8 per tire for the betterment of the planet--then pay shady operators far less to, well, not deliver these tires to recycling centers. The cash spread fattens the profit of those retailers, who of course know exactly what is really going on.

Exit stage center. See you all soon!


Anonymous said...

Actually the "Welcome Back Detroit" sign at the River Rouge car wash was put up to celebrate the re-opening of the rouge river bridge on Jefferson Avenue. It had been shut down for over 2 years for repair after it was hit by a passing freighter (because the drunk bridge operator put it down too soon). The closure of the bridge prevented easy access from SW Detroit to river rouge, where there are stores and restaurants one would actually want to visit.

John Ruberry said...

Thanks for the heads up!

Czar Medigo said...

This are the cities controlled by democrat politicians they’ve created this cities of waste poverty and crime