I love Detroit. Did I mention that? I love the neighborhoods. They are diverse. They each have their own individual history, culture, architecture, customs, shapes, families, trees, festivals, ethnicities, and colors. Yet they all come together to make one Detroit.
Growing up the suburbs I never knew about what a neighborhood really was. Canton Township was long tracks of cookie cutter homes in lazy curving streets of subdivisions that were confined to the grid that was laid out by the Land Ordinace of 1875. Next to these subdivisions were expansive farms.
Every year the subdivisions would eat away at the farms claiming another grid square. With each aggressive annexation the houses would get larger and uglier. The farmers were unfairly treated as their land was taxed for the value that it would be worth if it was covered in houses. They had no choice but to sell. Developers raked in the money with bland generic houses in townships that had no city-center, master layout plan or identity.
Anyhow back to the neighborhoods of Detroit. To the east of Corktown is Downtown, or the "CBD" (Core Business District) as locals call it. To the north a neighborhood formerly known as "Briggs Neighborhood" that has now been absorbed into "North Corktown" to protect it from large urban renewal projects like Woodbridge Estates, where entire neighborhoods are leveled for new housing. Although it's in very rough shape and missing many houses the recent addition of 30 infill houses are bringing revival to the area. And to the West is Mexicantown.
Unfortunately Mexicantown took a serious blow in the late 1960's. The freeway system needed to get to the Ambassador bridge to make itself complete. And the best way they found was right through the heart of Mexicantown.
I-75 was merciless yeilding to no house, business or church. So Mexicantown was divided into two halves. The mainstreet of Bagley was severed. And while both sides suffered with Detroit, the east side was especially hit hard. It seemed like the two sides would forever be apart only connected by the overpassing street of Vernor.
If you've ever been to Mexicantown, you know it's a happening place. It has a vibrant culture and nightlife. There are a lot of significant places including St. Annes church, The Ambassador bridge, Bagley Housing Corp, the Honeybee market and the Matrix theater. It has a bright future, but the old wound of I-75 is still present.
This year MDOT confirmed that it would build a pedestrian bridge across I-75 on Bagley. More then that it will be a slick-art-cable-stay type bridge in part to serve as a gateway for people coming over the bridge.
After 40 years Mexicantown gets some restoration.
This bridge is going to be 2 blocks from my house and frankley, I can't wait. In addition to the bridge a welcome center and mercado are being erected on Bagley for visitors and to support a possible second bridge crossing. (scary)