Sunday, December 21, 2008
Beautiful homes in the big bad city
Anyway: The apartment building up top is one of the many in the Palmer Park district (near Woodward and McNichols) that are on the National Register of Historic Places. PP dates back to the roaring '20s, the decade which gave the country some of its most exuberant architecture, whether residential or commercial (think downtown's Guardian Building, much of Los Angeles.) If you haven't been by lately and want to know why the neighborhood isn't famous/expensive, just look at the rotten-to-the-core southern end of things, around McNichols. Menjo's is still there to remind visitors of a time when lots of Gays lived around here.
Detroit is so hard, it had urban decay back in the 1800's, back before lots of cities in the United States even existed. That's right -- Brush Park ceased being a desirable address as early as 1895. The neighborhood of mansions tucked off of Woodward between Downtown and the Cultural Center went up in the mid 1800's, but fell out of fashion once bigger mansions became available in places like Indian Village and the Boston-Edison district. More than 100 years later, you have a bunch of nice remodels, some apartment complexes and a lot of rubble/moonscape. At this rate, in 2100, things should be back to normal. If there are cities in 2100, instead of just hugs.
Detroit may be a tough town, but its homes are often downright whimsical in style. A good place to find the sort of Hansel + Gretel architecture most people associate with the older Los Angeles neighborhoods is the city's University District. The former home of the likes of Elaine Stritch and riots-era mayor Jerry Cavanagh, you'll find the UD between Livernois, McNichols, Seven Mile and the Detroit Golf Club. The foreclosure crisis that has battered the city has not spared the district -- well, it hasn't really spared any part of town -- but buckets of 1920's-1930's charm make the neighborhood an easy sell, if you're looking: How does a 5BR, 3BA for $46K sound? Tempting, no doubt. Tragic, also.