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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Somebody left a light on

There's a saying that's been around since the '70s: "Would the last person to leave Detroit, turn out the lights."

abandoned Detroit house DSCF3717pmp

I grew up in the square mile that was 6 Mile (McNichols) on the North, 5 Mile (Fenkell) on the South, Southfield Fwy on the West, and Greenfield Rd on the East. It got a bit larger as I got older with Cerveny Jr. High and Cooley High School going East. The Henry Chaney branch of the Detroit Public Library on Grand River Ave, across the street from St. Mary's going South and North Rosedale Park on the other side of the Southfield Fwy.

White flight hit that neighborhood in the early '70s, only a few years after the riots, and it's still trying to recover, over 40 years later. I go back there occasionally to look around.

This abandoned house sits close to where I live now. It's in a small neighborhood far worse than any I've seen, though I imagine there are equals elsewhere in the city. It's boundaries are Puritan (north), 5 Mile (south), Telegraph (west), Lahser Rd (east). There are entire blocks of abandoned, boarded up, burned-out houses.

But take a close look at the photo. In the lower right corner, that round circle of white... that's a light shining on the side of a house on the next block. People still live around there and somebody left a light on.

I don't have any hope that Detroit will someday come back. I don't think it ever will, at least not the way it was. Detroiters will have to reinvent themselves and the city we all still love.

Right now I drive around Detroit taking photos and like the graffiti and street art I photograph, Detroit is a blank canvas waiting for its residents to paint their future.

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