muckraker report

What bankers will see on bus tour of troubled Brightmoor

Brightmoor_0522-2About 25 bankers are expected to board a bus in downtown Detroit on Wednesday and take a tour of one of Detroit’s most impoverished communities – Brightmoor.

As they glide past overgrown lots, broken fire hydrants, crumbling homes and litter-strewn lawns, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr plans to point out the devastating impact of job and population loss. The city, he plans to argue, can’t provide even basic services to many of its 700,000 residents.

Driving through Brightmoor, it’s hard to imagine that the slice of four square miles of northwest Detroit was a thriving working-class neighborhood, attracting thousands of immigrants, Southerners and Appalachian workers in the 1920s. Brightmoor, or “Blightmoor,” as it’s sometimes called – was in such demand in the early ’20s that new arrivals erected tents in their new lots and waited for their modest homes to be built.

Brightmoor mapBut crime, poor housing stock and rising insurance rates have spurred a decades-long exodus. From 1990 to 2010, the population dropped by 50%, to 12,800.

Despite the declines, Brighmoor is showing signs of progress. Nonprofits, such as the Skillman Foundation, are helping transform the area with urban gardens, murals and well-groomed parks for children.

Click on a photo below to view the gallery of Brightmoor.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

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  • Riet

    Please give credit due to where it is due: 90% of the murals and gardens have been organized and produced by NEIGHBORS, RESIDENTS, PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN BRIGHTMOOR. True we have received monetary help for some of this by non- profits, for which we are grateful, but it would have never happened if it wasn’t for neighbors organizing and in their free time, without being paid, doing all this work. Google Neighbors Building Brightmoor.
    My point is not to toot our own horn, but change does not happen unless you listen and empower neighbors. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on salaries, meetings, media coverage and every time they show pictures of murals and gardens that are done for free not by the non profits but by the neighbors. So it is in your pictures.

  • Tony

    Not all those park are well-groomed. I’ve been working hard to get Outer Drive/Burgess Playground cut. I don’t believe it was cut at all last year. It’s pretty hard work doing it mostly with push mowers. The Detroit Blight Authority cut it at the end of June, but they left it pretty high.

    If someone wants to help out there or at other city parks, visit the Detroit Mower Gang on facebook.

    • Tony

      My manners. Kudos to Tom and Nate, also of the mower gang. Each has made a visit to the playground with a lawn tractor. And each has suffered damage to the tractor cutting there.

      Thanks guys.

  • Kevin

    Well at least they have new corner curbs.