Wednesday, August 22, 2007

husk park

Cleaners
Hamilton Avenue
A separate city located within the boundaries of Detroit, Highland Park could be a poster child for how far urban blight and decay can go. Recently, Amy and I drove along Hamilton Avenue (where this shot was taken) and the surrounding neighbourhood. We've driven through many rough-looking parts of Detroit, but this may have been among the bleakest sections we've ever gone through. We lost count of the number of hollowed-out businesses, wide-open apartments, burned-out homes and lots returning to a natural state.

Former Hamilton Avenue Businesses
Hamilton Avenue

There are numerous factors for this state of affairs. Ford Motor Company, which built the Model T in Highland Park, closed its plant back in the 1950s. "White flight" began shortly thereafter, accelerating after the riots south of the city in 1967. Two decades later, Chrysler moved its world headquarters to the suburbs. City finances deteriorated to the point that the state stepped in to handle the city's fiscal affairs earlier this decade. While new developments have sprung up on Woodward Avenue and some historic neighbourhoods remain in relatively decent shape, the areas we drove through were jaw-dropping.

78-80 Glendale
Glendale Avenue
Apartments on Hamilton Avenue
Hamilton Avenue

Two of the many apartment buildings we drove by, many built in the 1920s and 1930s. In several, it was easy to look into the upper floors from street level.

Burned Out
Side street east of Hamilton Avenue
Various elements combined for an odd drive along Hamilton. The road was being ripped, with many ruts and barrels for barely-held together pickups to dodge around. The only true sign of life we saw was a wedding party.

Muharjirin Islamic Center
Hamilton Avenue

Even storefront religious centres were boarded-up husks.

Links:
Official site of the City of Highland Park.
Model D guide to Highland Park, putting a positive spin on attempts to redevelop the city (mostly on or east of Woodward).
McGregor Library, a beautiful piece of architecture that the city's financial woes have shuttered since 2002.
Detroitblog posts mentioning Highland Park.

All photos taken August 11, 2007

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