Unpacking My Detroit – Part One

This is the first in a continuing series about Detroit, Michigan, my home town. I believe Detroit is emblematic of everything wrong with ‘Merka. At one time Detroit was the 5th largest city in these here United States. Overnight in the ’40s, Motown became the Arsenal of Democracy, building the machines that saved Truth, Justice, and the ‘Merkin way for trash such as Rush, Fox “News” and Johnny Dollar.

Click to enlarge

Yesterday, while doing some research, I came across the following map of when the various parts of Detroit were annexed.  The diagonal line starting at the upper left (and which is really on a due east-west orientation) is the infamous 8 Mile, which was the dividing line between Detroit and the suburbs in 1926…and still is. [Coincidentally, 1926 is the year of Pops’ birth, elsewhere.] The oldest parts of Detroit, are at the bottom of the map, on the river where settlement naturally started. Look further down to Canada, my adopted country. Windsor, Ontario [not labeled], Canada is the only Canadian city where one drives due north to get to ‘Merka. As a teen I often took the shuttle bus to Windsor to be able to say I spent the day in another country.

I grew up in the orange shape in the upper-left hand corner, which was annexed in 1926. The line that extends south from the eastern edge of that block is Greenfield Road. My house was 0.5 miles from that intersection, which is right where Hard Core Pawn takes place. That building used to be the bowling alley where my mother played in her Wednesday afternoon league. I spent so many hours there as a kid.

The Little House I Used To Live In

The area where I grew up was developed after the war and it had the designation “Madison Park” although that was apparently something only on a map because no one ever referred to it as such. Apparently the entire neighbourhood went up virtually overnight to help serve all those GIs coming back from the war.  This area, and many other parts of Detroit, were redlined, a practice begun by the Feds in the ’30s that continues in various forms today. Redlining, in one of its forms, restricted Blacks and Jews from purchasing in certain neighbourhoods. This was just one factor that led to Detroit’s eventually decline. This series will explore all the various ways in which Detroiters, Michiganders, and ‘Merkins systematically destroyed the city that helped save ‘Merka.

If you would like to share your stories or impressions of Detroit, please do.

Other entries in this series:

About Headly Westerfield

Calling himself “A liberally progressive, sarcastically cynical, iconoclastic polymath,” Headly Westerfield has been a professional writer all his adult life.