Wednesday, September 19, 2007

the streets of brighton beach

While visiting Windsor over the Labour Day weekend, I wandered through a section of the city I hadn't been through in awhile, Brighton Beach. The drive was an eye-opener.

The history of the neighbourhood is covered on International Metropolis. Over the past decade, the city has purchased most of the residential lots, with the intention of building an industrial park. No progress has been made on this front, as the area is usually mentioned in plans for a new border crossing, such as this one.

Brighton Beach (2): Reed St
Most of the streets in Brighton Beach have been blocked to vehicular traffic. Most of the roads were never paved in my memory and now appear to be returning to nature. Most of the street signs have been removed, forcing me to identify roads based on memory or maps. Reed St (pictured above) is one of the few that retains its identity, though I'm guessing this is due to oversight. One type of vehicle the barriers don't keep out is the ATV, as I heard several roaming along the ghost streets.

Brighton Beach (4): Outdoor Living Room
This set of furniture at Sandwich and Broadway is as close to a living room as you will find in Brighton Beach. At least three dwellings are still standing, with the majority on Healy St.

Brighton Beach (6): Hidden Stop
Either the intersection of Healy and Reed or Healy and Dupont (no signs), looking west. For now, you can still drive a distance down Healy, as two homes remain. Note how the stop sign is nearly submerged by plant growth.

Olco No More We Also Accept Plastic Bags Wrapped Around the Pumps
Closed
Bordering Brighton Beach and Sandwich is an abandoned Olco gas station, where I worked the summer following my first year of university. It never was a particularly busy spot - I spent most of my time reading (mostly Fitzgerald, Faulkner or John Irving) or listening to Tigers games on the battered clock radio in the kiosk.

There were a few oddball customers I remember:

* An elderly gentleman that vaguely looked like George Burns who drove a battered car and only spoke in guttural profanities. Occasionally he was accompanied by a wife or daughter (couldn't tell) who appeared to have suffered some form of brain injury.

* A guy who drove an old Camaro who only filled it up $5 at a time.

* A person who believed we were a bank, as they always asked for extra money to be charged to his credit card.

Other than being shuttered and a bagged pump, the site has not changed much since my pump jockey days. I seem to have had no long-term ill-effects from breathing in the pollution from the heavy industry across the river or the time an absent-minded driver started to drive off while the gas was still pumping, drenching me in diesel. This may also explain why I was affected less by pollution than my classmates when I moved across the Atlantic to London a year and a half later. - JB

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