DETROIT: A Tale Of Four Corners

I was born in Detroit, a 1957 model. For much of my now 63-years I watched a once great city fall into decay and become synonymous with urban ruin. Entire neighborhoods were obliterated and numerous skyscrapers in the downtown core were empty.

About a decade ago though something inexplicable happened.

Detroit started, at long last, to rebound. I never thought this possible.

I have done a number of Detroit posts and today I would like to show you the corner of Alexandrine and 2nd Avenue, a bit north of the downtown core.

 

NW CORNER, a decade ago. In the background is the abandoned El Moore Lodge.

 

NW CORNER, today. To stop the El Moore Lodge from being demolished, local residents banded together to restore the structure. Today, it houses apartments (all filled) and a hotel. The also created a community garden on the adjacent vacant lot. Here is their website.

 

NE CORNER, a decade ago. A sad-looking but functioning store and bleak parking lot.

 

NE CORNER, today. The retail buildings has been restored, and the parking lot enhanced with landscaping. What was bleak is now attractive.

 

SE CORNER, a decade ago. Two improbable Victorian-Era survivors. The red brick house lost its porch. 

 

SE CORNER, today. The red house has a new porch! 

 

SW CORNER, a decade ago. A wonderful house in good condition presided over a bleak landscape. The El Moore is to the right. 

 

SW CORNER, today. The wonderful house is now surrounded by wonderfulness.

 

In a world which seems increasingly crazy, this kind of urban rejuvenation deeply inspires me. Such work was the result of incremental improvements by locals residents. We are so used to seeing huge top-down government “renewal” efforts which tear down block after block to build a baseball stadium, for example, the the small-scale efforts shown here are truly what will bring a city back from the brink.

I tip my all to all those who brought back to life the corner of Alexandrine and 2nd Avenue.

 

 

5 Comments

  1. Leigh on March 1, 2020 at 9:18 pm

    It is similar to what you are doing to the community with the Cross House, Ross. Restoring/ maintaining/ adapting the structure for yourself, the community and the future. More power to all the good people.

  2. Mary on March 2, 2020 at 11:47 am

    Thank you Ross for these before and after photos of Detroit. It gives me so much hope for our future when historic buildings are restored and used rather than torn down to make way for generic architecture. BTW in my mind the Cross House IS the Ross House. There should be a plaque on the house with your name so all will know who is responsible for restoring and saving it.

  3. David McDonald on April 10, 2020 at 3:54 pm

    Ive worked in Downtown Detroit since 2001. And have loved these old neighborhoods since i first went exploring in my car in 1989 when a freshman at U of M. I just opened another restaurant last year in downtown.
    We were doing an event at Eastern market, I had to drive back to the restaurant to get something, and as I made my way through the downtown core, everytime I turned a corner I couldn’t believe I was in Detroit! I felt like it was Chicago or New York. White gloved bellhops in red uniforms with gleaming gold buttons opening the car doors and well-dressed, well-heeled people getting out. Clean sidewalks and gutters, packed restaurants and businesses. Simply stunning!!

    • Ross on April 10, 2020 at 4:57 pm

      What a great comment, David! I loved ready it. Twice!

  4. David McDonald on April 10, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    Thanks Ross! 🤗 (I was an English major–lol) just a “warning”- ha ha… left a lot of comments today!!! Enjoy!!
    . Can you tell im at home?!? Here’s wishin i was there! 😁

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