Thursday, September 26, 2013

Delray, Michigan ~ Death of a Village

I was going to just pop on a lot of the sad and sometimes crazy to the point of bemused amusement down side photos of Detroit today, until, wanting to have some links to some of the photos, I started reading the history of Delray, an outlying area of Detroit we drove around in before we got to the city proper.

Detroit powers that be have officially deemed the area industrial now. Now that its citizenry has largely relocated, or died, some due to the pollutants brought in by those "We'll provide jobs!" industries. The same industries that took a thriving village, complete with a clean, often fished river , annual festivals, strong family ties and an identity unique to this part of the country and turned it into what too many people think about when they think about Detroit. A long road from thriving to devastated, and a really sad one as well. There is no hindsight here, it's too late for that.

As we were turning into the neighborhood, Karen was explaining some of the history of Delray, including the fact that her father was baptized in one of the churches there, when we saw this pony.

"Oh! A pony! A pony, right in the middle of Delray!" Karen was exclaiming. Being from Culebra, that didn't seem like such a big deal to me. Then we went farther into the neighborhood and I understood a little better. Once again, my father's joke came to mind. Yes, Dad, under all that manure, there really was a pony.

No church for you today

Some of the churches are still open
The Fire Department is the spiffiest place in town
With its large Hungarian population (originally) there is a strong influence on the architecture of a number of the church buildings and homes. I don't know much about Hungarian culture except the food, but I like the domed steeples.

In the midst of this wasteland, someone is still smelling the roses

One of many many burned out homes

I'm not sure why this particular house made me so sad. Maybe it is that the potential is still there, so close and tragically too far away. I wanted to go inside but that was not happening.

There are still people living in Delray, probably not too many, but when your home value is in four figure digits, alternatives aren't easy.

A no longer functioning bridge

A few signs, just in case you don't get the point that it is not open for traffic

That is not incense

This is a tributary of the Rouge River. I don't think I'd go fishing here.

Closed for who knows how long, yet still painted. Good for whoever is doing that!

There isn't much about the Angel in Delray art project that happened in 2004, but there were about 40 or 50 angel figures cut out and painted, then placed on both still used and abandoned buildings. They are one more of Delray's poignant visuals.

"The last vestige of old Delray is the Delray CafĂ©, located at 8032 Jefferson and still serving authentic Hungarian and Polish cuisine. Because of the junction of several railroad lines, a vintage railroad switching tower off Dearborn Avenue — the last staffed one inside city boundaries — is a favorite site for local train enthusiasts." from Old Delray.

The last vestige is now closed.

Blowin' smoke

Karen noticed this decorative touch. I was snapping fast and watching big barking dogs.

Even the Fire Dept. has its angel. No doubt they could use a few more.

It was sad to see it and much sadder to read about it. The blog with the story is so full of Delray history and photos, I got totally lost in following links, with a growing feeling that the story of this place is so much the story of much of the US. Immigrants, beauty, greed, destruction, hope, abandonment, more greed, destruction and overwhelmingly, a way of life gone that could have been done so differently, were people a consideration rather than gain.

Have a take no prisoners Thursday. Do something tactical.


  1. Wal Mart and big malls kill many towns downtowns like this. Sad to see a whole town die though.

    teslatn 143

    1. Yes, and I think I've been pretty clear on how I feel about WalMart, but this seems even worse, with the pollution and more, as you say, the whole town basically destroyed.

  2. I just read an ad for housing in MI for 45k...I'll bet this is the place! I didn't click on the ad because...well why? But then I came here and read your blog. Sad sad sad. One of the things I notice all along my many roadtrips is different towns going and gone. Find them all along Route 66...ghost towns now. Sad sad sad.

    1. Incredibly enough, there WERE a few houses people were fixing up, all Tyveked, ready for siding, new porches, nice homes. But the other thing is, houses are reasonable here so that one for 45K might have been in a stable older neighborhood in a good area, you just never know. Yes, incredible, the ghost towns of the US, and they are everywhere.

  3. Well, this is certainly a bring-down after yesterday's beautiful post, but certainly more what I expected out of Detroit. I hope she rises to her beauty again some day.

    1. There is amazing beauty in Michigan and Detroit itself has plenty but the unshiny side is pretty grim. People are at work to make it better - the people I've talked to are passionate about their city and seem ready to roll up their sleeves!

  4. um, that fire house is a bike clubhouse.

    1. The one with the angel? I wrote this three years ago so maybe the fire truck that was in there is gone or was not in use. If you know more, tell the story, please!