November 1st, 2011


Natural Beauty

It’s no secret that the housing situation in Detroit is in an advanced state of ruin. Or to restate it slightly, the houses themselves in Detroit are in an advanced state of ruin. This is generally viewed as an enormous tragedy, an assessment I would agree with… for the most part. Today, it was a source of good news for me.

Longtime readers of this journal may recall this entry from 2006, in which I talked about the Detroit News paper route I had while in high school. The route was located in a somewhat isolated part of Detroit’s east side known as the Island. Today, I did some internet surfing on Google Maps and took a street level tour of the Island. I expected to find a lot of empty houses, a bunch of empty lots, and some houses that are still standing but are merely empty shells awaiting either a wrecking ball, a few more scavengers, or a stiff breeze to knock them over completely. And yes, that’s what I found.

There were some other interesting things to note, though. I thought that maybe the houses at the edge of the Island, on Norcross Avenue facing the Chandler Park Golf Course, might be in better shape, and I was gratified to see that this was indeed the case. There were hardly any empty lots on Norcross and almost every house was apparently occupied and reasonably well cared for.

Then I navigated over to the photos of Leidich Avenue in the dark heart of the Island. I had to keep clicking the screen until I reached the corner of Leidich and Hern. This was the location of the Crater house. If you click the link above, you can read all about my epic run-in with the Crater boys. They were (and I don’t use these words often or lightly) human scum.

So there on my computer screen, where once had stood the dark, ominously peaked Crater house, I now saw nothing but lush greenery. That house is gone, gone, gone. It made me smile.

I know – it’s been well over 30 years since I last dealt with that crew… and maybe they’re still lurking somewhere around Detroit, all now having grown from a mean youth to a meaner middle age… but there’s no sense denying that all that greenery was a sweet sight to behold. Whatever problems exist on the Island today, the absence of that nasty house has got to go on the Assets side of the ledger.
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