Friday, June 21, 2019

(Photos) The abandoned homes of Detroit's Hope Village

It's been a few months since my last Detroit post. Yes, I've been busy with many things. Some good, some troublesome.

If you are only just finding me now, in February I traveled to Flint and Detroit in my latest urban exploration adventure.

In my last entry I presented to you the abandoned homes of Detroit's Martin Park. Just south of that west side neighborhood is Hope Village.


Hope seems to have checked out of Hope Village. To start off, here's my obligatory collapsed portico shot.


We'll leave the light on for you.


At 15531 Linwood Street is Thurgood Marshall Elementary School. But when it opened in 1920 it was the General George A. Custer School. The original sign, made of terra cotta I believe, is way up on top.

Okay, Marshall, although a too liberal for my taste, was certainly a legend. His most famous case as a lawyer was Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka. He later became the first black to serve to the US Supreme Court. But he stayed on the court way past his prime--Marshall hoped to hang on long enough to have a Democratic president select a similarly-minded judicial activist as his replacement. He retired in 1991. George H.W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas, an African American conservative, to that seat. Thomas remains on the court and despite recent rumors has no plans to retire.


Yet another fire-damaged Detroit home.

In 1973 Detroit elected Coleman Young as its first black mayor. He was a possibly a former communist, and based on his love of his Stalin-esque Detroit People Mover--an expensive flop, I'm not sure he completely abandoned the party, if he was a member, or at least its ideas. Young utilized us-versus- them politics using dog whistle words. Suburbs (white) versus Detroit (black). And his policies. favoring African Americans over whites, accelerated white flight from the Motor City.

Whites were still a majority in Detroit when Young was elected. By 1980 just one-third of Detroiters were white. By 2010 less than ten percent were.

An all-black, or nearly all-black Detroit made reelection much easier for Young.


Log Cabin Street.

Which reminds me of my favorite song by Dire Straits, "Telegraph Road."

It was written about a real Telegraph Road, which passes through Detroit and its suburbs.
A long time ago came a man on a track
Walking thirty miles with a sack on his back
And he put down his load where he thought it was the best
Made a home in the wilderness
He built a cabin and a winter store
And he ploughed up the ground by the cold lake shore
And the other travelers came walking down the track
And they never went further, no, they never went back.


I've rambled a bit here. Back to Custer and Young.

George Armstrong Custer might seem to be an odd choice for the name of a school in mostly-black Detroit, but "the Boy General" spent much of his childhood in nearby Monroe. And of course as a Union general fought not only to preserve the United States but the efforts of the northern army paved the way for the abolition of slavery.


A Michigan bungalow.

Like Marshall, Young retired later than he should have, leaving office in 1994 when he was 75. Age had caught up with him too. During the latter part of his term a philosophy developed among many Detroiters, but not Young, that assimilation was a dead end, along the lines of how Jews who left their homes after World War II for Israel In 1993 the name change from Custer School to Marshall took place. Many other schools also saw name changes.

But Young failed and so did Detroit--and the collapse of Detroit culminated in 2013 with the city's bankruptcy, the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history.

And the idea of re-segregation has ended in the Motor City. Detroit's white population is increasing for the first time in decades. Detroit, in Mike Duggan, has a white mayor. He was resoundingly re-elected over Coleman Young II.


Campaign poster for Coleman Young II in Mexicantown in 2017. Oh, that dog did not like me.


Abandoned homes can be terrific billboards.

Around the time Detroiters elected the older Young to lead their city, Atlanta elected its first black mayor, Maynard Jackson. While the transition from the old Atlanta to the new one involved some bumps, Jackson and his successors worked with Georgia's business establishment to create "The City That Is Too Busy To Hate." While hate seems to have been an option, Atlanta largely succeeded where Detroit failed. Atlanta prevailed in one attempt where Detroit failed seven times. It hosted a Summer Olympics.


An abandoned brick home with an abandoned car? That Hyundai has no license plates.


As I've mentioned here many times before, alleys were left to the elements in Detroit years ago. Not even snow can hide the vegetation or the discarded rubbish.


Many abandoned homes and former retail stores in Detroit aren't even secured. Since March three murder victims have been discovered in vacated houses, which has led Detroit to start a program to board up these forsaken buildings because of fears that a serial killer is on the loose.


So many abandoned homes are victims of arson.





2 comments:

X-IL resident said...

Weekend WSJ has glowing piece on Detroit. Evidently the Journal writers missed this section of the city.

John Ruberry said...

Downtown Detroit is noticeably better than it was when I first visited in 2015. But most of the neighborhoods can be rightly called be called post-abandoned. If the city didn't mow what used to be lawns in these forsaken zones they would look like tallgrass prairie of the type you would find in Illinois 200 years ago. Until the trees got tall enough then it could be a savanna or even a forest.