Thursday, September 10, 2009
brighton beach revisited
Two years ago, I wrote about a drive through the Brighton Beach neighbourhood in Windsor. Curious to see what the area looked liked as it awaits its future as the site for a new Detroit-Windsor bridge, I wandered around last weekend.
Most of the streets were blocked off with walls of dirt several years ago as the traces of former homes, businesses and street names were removed. The streets that are still open to regular traffic are shaded in blue in the map above (courtesy Google Maps - I admit I forgot to check the status of G.N. Booth Drive). While the two main streets (Broadway and Sandwich) are still fully accessible, others, like Page Street, have been reduced to driveways for the few holdouts in the neighbourhood. International Metropolis and Windsor Visuals have posted about the history of Brighton Beach—the neighbourhood's future is in the hands of the federal government after it paid $34 million in July to secure land for a new border crossing.
Brighton Beach continues to offer up the finest in abandoned couches. Treasure hunters or connoisseurs of neglected boat hulls, car seats and furniture would have smiles on their faces after a quick scouting trip of the neighbourhood.
I parked the car on Sandwich Street and walked west along the remnants of Wright Street. It's possible that I hadn't ventured into this section of Brighton Beach since my late teens, either on a Sunday drive with Dad or through aimless wandering. Most of the streets in Brighton Beach were never paved, so any deterioration in the road itself wasn't noticeable. The dirt blockade at Sandwich Street appeared to have been smoothed down by monster trucks and full-size SUVs.
Natural regeneration made the walk feel like a country stroll.
A provincial air monitoring station marks the south end of Water Street. The air was full of the sound of ATVs buzzing around an open area to the west that has effectively become a dirt track. For an abandoned neighbourhood, there was plenty of life—besides the ATVs, I passed several cyclists taking a gentle ride along the gravel roads, large trucks hauling recreational vehicles, and a family enjoying a picnic around a campfire by the river.
The view heading north on Water Street. I don't recall there ever being much development along this street. The current growth makes it hard to believe a major waterway is steps away.
A short walk west on Chappus Street brings you to a tiny beach...
...with seaweed-encrusted tires...
...and great views of the industrial behemoths of southwest Detroit.
I walked back to the car along the remnants of Page Street. A large number of rugs were scattered on the road near Cole Avenue. One appeared to be merging with the road, providing a smoother ride for vehicles.
Judging from other articles I've read, it's possible that this could have been my last opportunity to roam freely around Brighton Beach before preparations for the new bridge begin. There's always the chance that delays due to lawsuits launched by the owners of the Ambassador Bridge (still pushing a second span for their river crossing that stumps already exist for, despite lack of government approval), bureaucracy, or money issues will leave more time for wandering on a future trip home.
All photos taken September 6, 2009. Full set on Flickr. - JB