Alt-Weekly: Detroit Neighborhood Sat 100 Years Before Someone Moved In

Illustration for article titled Alt-Weekly: Detroit Neighborhood Sat 100 Years Before Someone Moved In

Now I've lived in or around Detroit for almost 30 years now, but I've just now been made alert of a neighborhood that has sat completely unoccupied for more than a century before some trendy young white people moved in. I guess I don't know this city as well as I thought.

I mean, I knew Detroit had some desolate areas, but according to Real Detroit Weekly, West Village on the city's east side has been desolate longer than any of us have been alive. I guess when my aunt lived in an apartment on Van Dyke for about 15 years from the '80s til the '90s, it was all just in my mind! Maybe all the black people that ever lived there were just a figment of my imagination and just aren't totally being whitewashed from the history of Detroit!

Snuggled right in the midst of The Villages, West Village is an eclectic neighborhood, full of artists, families and young professionals. Although the homes were once swanky (if sometimes now crumbling), they weren't as swanky as bordering Indian Village and the neighborhood struggled to retain residents over the years. Homes, once proud and vibrant, fell into decay. But the neighborhood didn't die, it just went to sleep for a little while and to say it's merely awake now would be a gross understatement.

Hugh Yaro and Matt Dalton, owners of Craft Work, were among the very first people to move to the neighborhood and they absolutely love it.


Now I just checked Yaro and Dalton's ages and they're not as old as West Village itself, which dates back to at least 1905. Nor are they as old as this mythical "1920s apothecary shop" which, by Real Detroit Weekly's summation, never really was an apothecary shop because there was no apothecary-ing afoot in this neighborhood for the last 80 or so years.

I guess that time when Time bought a house on Parker Street and housed journalists in Detroit for a year was just a complete mindfuck as well. Between this and the Malaysian plane, I believe nothing right now. Except that anything in Detroit is possible — including building a neighborhood and leaving it empty for a century. Thanks, RDW! The Pulitzer's on its way.

Photo via the totally undiscovered until just now Historic West Village Facebook

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Eddie Brannan

You skipped quite a lot of copy from the original article between your first quoted paragraph and the second. And the missing part is all about setting up a business district, and then a reclamation program focused on bringing new homeowners to the neighborhood who will commit to it, contribute to it, use the new businesses and encourage revitalization. In that context the "very first people" comment makes sense because it refers to the first to move in under this program. Least that's my reading of it.

I'm quite sure that the type of whitewashing you're talking about happens all of the time in Detroit and Detroit reporting, but it seems to me that in this case at least the accusation isn't warranted.