Detroit's Delray Has an Awful Stink, but Some Loyalists Still Won't Leave

Photo credit: Notorious4life

Delray is a Southwest Detroit neighborhood that has taken a beating over time.

Under the headline "Is This The End of Delray?" John Carlisle of the Detroit Free Press writes about the city's push to get people to move from the very unhealthy industrial area and how some people have no intention of leaving. 

He starts by talking to a woman with a pet opossum.

"My neighborhood is nice," Fran McCracken says. "It's just peaceful down here. You go across the tracks, that’s when I gets bad. Yeah, you don’t want to go across the tracks when it’s nighttime. You find bodies — girls — all the time.

"Like the other day, my brother was driving down the street and they found a girl dead." . . .

In a city with plenty of rough neighborhoods, Delray is regarded as one of the worst. It’s been called Detroit’s backwater, its underbelly, the bowels of the region — which it literally is, in a sense, since the city’s wastewater treatment plant is here, receiving and incinerating the contents of everyone’s toilets in Detroit and 77 surrounding communities and filling the air for miles with a God-awful stink...

The people are almost all gone. The houses are missing. The stores are boarded up or bulldozed. Whole blocks are empty and overgrown with weeds and grass. The air stinks like sulfur and sewage. Residents wake up some mornings to find a thin film of mysterious industrial powders coating their houses and cars. Studies have found higher rates here of all kinds of bad things, from asthma to cancer.

Delray is Detroit’s ghost town, a landscape of empty streets that are eerily quiet except for the constant hammering sounds and banging noises of all the industries here.

But as we see around the world, some people are attached to their land. : 

The city is trying one more time to convince them to go. The long-planned new bridge to Canada is slated to land right in the middle of Delray, and the 170-acre customs plaza that will spread outward from the bridge’s footprint will wipe out much of the old neighborhood, splitting what’s left into two isolated pockets of semi-empty blocks. Those who choose to stay will be subject to a whole new level of noise and pollution. So the city is making an unprecedented offer to give residents another house someplace else in the city for free, plus a whole bunch of money to fix it up.

The city’s offer has generated interest among many residents, who’ve expressed eagerness to learn more. Some of them have said they can’t wait to get out. But despite the forthcoming offers, there are many longtime residents who say that no matter how bad it gets, they’re staying.

"I don’t think I’d leave, I guess, because I’ve never left the block. Been down here all my life," Fran said. "It's home to me."

Read more:  Detroit Free Press

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