Up close: 8 most abandoned neighborhoods in Detroit

Abandoned house
By Steve Neavling

Eight neighborhoods in Detroit have been so ravaged by crime, foreclosures, fires and scrappers that more than a third of the homes and businesses are abandoned, according to recently released findings from an unprecedented survey of every Detroit parcel.

Many of the areas have been consumed by thick brush, collapsing houses and discarded tires.

A quarter of the city’s houses and buildings are vacant, according to the survey led by the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force and Motor City Mapping. Below is a ranking of neighborhoods with the highest percentage of vacant homes and buildings.

8. Brightmoor

% of unoccupied buildings: 34.2%
# of unoccupied buildings: 1,636

In the 1920s, Brightmoor was a neighborhood of modest homes for working-class immigrants and southerners who came to Detroit for auto jobs. But residential flight over the past five decades has turned some of the neighborhood into an urban prairie, making it an ideal location for small farms. The area, however, is rife with violent crime.

Via Data Driven Detroit










7. Burbank

% of unoccupied buildings: 34.4%
# of unoccupied buildings: 2,377

Large swaths of this neighborhood are vacant and burned out, with deteriorating commercial strips along E. 7 Mile and a section of Hayes. Dominated by modest houses built in the 1920s and ’30s, the east-side neighborhood was predominately white until the 1980s. It is now the youngest neighborhood in Detroit, with 25% of its population under the age of 18, according to the 2010 census.

Via Data Driven Detroit


6. Ravendale

% of unoccupied buildings: 35.5%
# of unoccupied buildings: 2,512

Bordering a blighted stretch of Gratiot to the west, this neighborhood has a lot of bungalows and other middle-income homes built primarily in the 1920s. The abandonment changes drastically by the block, with some streets lined with empty lots and crumbling houses. East Outer Drive has managed to remain relatively occupied.

Via Data Driven Detroit

Ravendale15. State Fair

% of unoccupied buildings: 35.6%
# of unoccupied buildings: 933

Just south of the old Michigan State Fairgrounds, this small neighborhood sprang up in the late 1910s and early 1920s and is bordered by 8 Mile to the north and Woodward to the west. It has a variety of single family homes. The vast empty lots have made this a prime spot for dumping.

State Fair
Via Data Driven Detroit

State Fair

Pages: 1 2

  • Donna Dopson

    Four Obama years.



    • mildwings

      I’m going to roll thru and dump my old toilet just for kicks later.

    • mildwings

      I’m going to roll thru and dump my old toilet just for kicks later.

  • Bennet Sharf

    I hate to say this but i was born in Detroit and lived there till about the time when the real big change started around 1977 of people moving out occured and I noticed that it is and was mostly where the black communities that homes and yards were being less and less taken care of. Now don’t start calling racist yet, I have best friends and many friends that are black and some agree with this. All I know is and i’m not even going to call them white communities but the german, polish, irish, italian, scottish or those who either came from another country mostly european or whose parents did brought with them a pride or a instilled behavior that keeping your home and yard up was a must. My little german grandmother on my dad’s side had a place on Chalmers and Chelsea and use to even sweep the alley in back of the garage up.The years I grew up I still remember things like the woman neighbor sweeping the street gutter. We didn’t have a lot of money but one of the main things people did from when I was born in 1959 or when I could remember as a child till when we moved north in 1977 was people on our streets were always working on their yards or home. Sorry if I offended anyone but the truth is the truth. I took a wrong turn in my life and gotten beaten up by the local police a number of times and crowds of long haired people didn’t riot over it and burn their city up. I can remember most of Detroit was beautiful and not even 50 years and it’s like a war zone. Don’t get me wrong there were white people who didn’t take care of their homes either but it was obvious when I was i child when you went into a black neighborhood. We need to start working together and not as two separate races and take ownership of our faults as much as our good deeds. I’ll say this because one of my black friends wanted me to mention that you’ve never seen a video of 30 or 40 white kids going into a gas station and taking what they want and leaving without paying. Who would want to keep a business in that sort of atmosphere? Lets all start acting like human beings that care about one another and stop pulling race cards and blaming generations that didn’t even have people in this country when the biggest crime of humanity was taking place, slavery and just because a person isn’t the same color as you doesn’t make them bad.

    • Rodrigo

      resuming….Blacks cant be dont know the meaning of respect..they think that just because they are free now, they got the right to abuse their rights.. a lot of white ppl do that but not 90% as colored people do… i say colored because they dont like the black.. so.. GL with your black tribes destroying cities. Consumed africa..now trying to consume the rest .. F.O.F !

      • Haley

        Wow. You truly represent what is so “great” about America. Clearly you have no idea about oppression and therefore no fucking clue what you’re talking about.

  • WIltonguy45

    The Federal Govt should make this the number one urban blight removal project, not only would it create thousands of jobs they could raze everything that is abandonded and reclaim the land back to open space.

  • zaumuse

    I started wondering why the areas in the pictures declined in such a short time. I have seen good and bad things in blighted neighborhoods. The neighbors who have lived here for over 15 years try hard to keep up with their homes despite the constant abandonment. I have seen squatters move into a trashed abandoned home and fix it up. Sometimes, but rarely, it is drug users, but it is usually a young family with small children who had an abusive life and decided they could do better on their own. Yes, they can get a better education,thus a job, but cannot pay for the expensive daycare. They can’t truly afford housing working at fast food restaurants or car washes, these are the jobs where everyone sees young people, but dont think much about it. They are the ones who usually live as squatters. They hide from the government. Sometimes, more than one family lives in the house if they have small children. Non of us wants to see this type of blight grow. it would help if the government could leave a note on the doors of these houses to let the squatters know that they wont put them out until either the owner claims the house and fixes it up, or until it is sold for taxes, which they are offered an opportunity to acquire it. Its not WHERE you live, but HOW you live.

  • Adam Rich

    Black cuture: rent, destroy, strip, move.

  • bonniebucqueroux

    You do great work, Steve.

  • Thomas C. Pedroni

    Steve, the juxtaposition of the photos is fascinating. Was your source for the 2009/2013 comparisons Google Streetview? It occurs to me we should be videoing whole neighborhoods to document rapid decline like this. Would you say these are perfect but not representative examples? If not, it would be amazing to have rolling video of block after block comparing during the crash/ four years later.

  • Alex Iwanyszyn

    Shows what a corupt Mayor can do to a city!

    • RevJac

      Corrupt banking system would be more correct, they took the properties back and did nothing with reoccupying them and made profit from the insurances they carried.

    • jayareo

      Well, a corrupt mayor of what – 28 years – followed by another dozen + years of (at BEST) incompetence??

  • Dennis Galloup

    Somethings wrong with some of these photos, most are a 4 year time span but yet the trees and foliage shows the growth of more like a 6 to 10 year growth span, not saying Detroit isn’t a mess just looks like more years than 4 in some of the pics.

    • JC

      Wild mulberry trees grow very fast.

    • mrdumbcrow

      Google maps now has a history feature so you can look back on old street views. I believe that is where most of these came from.

  • Michael A Brouwer

    Most of these homes were paid for long ago…the banks are not the issue (or a scapegoat).

    • SnowStormsinDetroit

      You’re not just wrong. But you’re very wrong.

      The banks let anyone and their dog refinance houses to get extra cash. Those who had homes paid off were the ones MOST PREFERRED by the banks to receive new financing.

      It’s true the city evicted many people over unpaid property taxes, but most of these homeowners were already going thru foreclosure w/the banks.

  • queenie1

    This is sickening – in FOUR YEARS these neighborhoods were destroyed. You can’t tell me that it’s because people didn’t care and just walked away from all these houses – this is squarely because of the banks. It didn’t make any sense to me when it was happening, kick someone out of the house if they didn’t make their payments, but then leave it vacant to be destroyed. Should have just let the people stay, they knew they weren’t going to be able to re-sel those houses.

    • bebow

      Don’t forget the tax delinquent slumlords and their narcotics-trafficking tenants.

      • Smeech: Liono, it’s the Slumlords, should we
        attack them?

        Liono: No Smeech, they are too powerful for us right now, they have the power of the Slum Stench and an army of Druggie Zombies and Junkie Gangs, we need to gather the forces of good together, the CatFighters, and use the combined power of all the magical stray cats to vanquish them once and for all!

        Smeech: Can I cut their heads off?

        Liono: Smeech no! Bad Smeech!

        Smeech: Meow I’m so sorry. Meow.

    • Amber Smith

      The worst part is I know someone who was just tryjng to refinance — their house was worth over $30,000 less than what they were mortgaged for after the market fell. The bank refused to refinance them so they just let the house go. Its ridiculous.

      • queenie1

        Exactly what I’m talking about Amber.

    • Shai_Hulud

      I don’t disagree with you, but do want to point out that the percentage listed is of the buildings remaining. Some of the neighborhoods listed have been in decline for decades and many of the original homes would have been demolished long before the first photos were taken. You can see in some of the 2009 pictures that the occupied homes have vacant lots on either side.

      When you consider that 20% of the neighborhood may have already been demolished, and that that neighborhood was 10% vacant before the crash, it becomes easier to understand how these areas cleared out so fast.

    • jayareo

      Woah – the BANKS are to blame? That is ridiculous. To blame any single source is folly. There are too many factors at work in the demise of these neighborhoods!! Do the banks contribute to the problem, probably. Dont forget poverty, corruption, drugs, violence, illiteracy, etc.

      They all have a hand here ….

      • Forever Great

        I’m 38. When my parents bought their first home in 1977 the Rule of thumb was you needed 20% down. The Democrats think everybody deserves a home (why bust your hump and save? Your owed) so THEY forced banks hands and just handed out unaffordable mortgages to countless people. It’s so sickening when mongloids immediately blame everybody but themselves and those who are behind the curtains like the wizard in the land of Oz… blame bush blame this that, I purchased my home in 08 and within months lost 110k of it’s value! I didn’t walk away because I signed a CONTRACT… SO almost 9 years later I’m still under water but only by a miniscule amount, POINT is that these areas aren’t the work of anything other than a destroyed culture and lack of the values that made this county great. Going gets tough, most walk away, they made horrible choices, it’s somebody else’s fault, they want something they charge it and become slaves to interest rates, but again it’s their choice. Our neighborhood didn’t look like this and every week somebody walked away! Get the hint. SO tired of excuses and blame being put on everything and every body Except THOSE WHO TRULY DESERVE THE BLAME.

  • Dan Pantalleresco


  • Billy Blake

    My Upper Westside neighborhood is nice. I’m blessed and truly grateful for what I have. Thank You Lord