While my family lived in suburban Detroit, my father’s parents lived in outer Detroit, and my grandfather often took his four grandchildren downtown on the weekends. I wrote about my vivid memories of these adventures, and this was published a few years ago.
My family left Michigan for Florida when I was fifteen, in 1970. It scares me how long ago this now seems.
I have never been back.
During the ensuing years and decades, Detroit became synonymous with urban decay. Indeed, the city became the poster child for urban decay.
However, recently, and against all odds, the city is making a comeback. Really, I am astonished, and would not have thought this possible.
Long empty skyscrapers have been restored/renovated and are now fully occupied.
The streets of downtown, which I had assumed to have tumbleweeds blowing down cracked asphalt, are maintained, lovely, and with flowers in median strips.
Really, I was astonished.
Adjacent to downtown is Brush Park. This was THE place to live in 1870, and its streets were lined with mansions.
As with all such first-generation neighborhoods, the advent of the automobile made being adjacent to downtown something which was no longer desirable. And families fled.
By 1910, first-generation neighborhoods were in decline across the country. This happened with my own 1894 house.
Fewer things bring as much joy to my heart and soul than architectural and urban renewal. I lived thorough the 1960s and 1970s when gorgeous creations were being knocked to the ground with nary a protest, and entire neighborhoods destroyed for highways and “urban renewal”.
I never thought the madness would end.
But it has. Not entirely. But way more than I ever thought possible. And today cities are even trying to reverse the damage.
You know, it is much nicer living in a world that is not totally insane.