Take before-and-after tour of Detroit’s most vacant neighborhood

Airport area
By Steve Neavling

Detroit’s most desolate area is in the shadow of the Coleman A. Young International Airport on Detroit’s east side, where entire blocks are overgrown parcels.
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More than 70% of the nearly 2,000 properties are empty lots spread across a dozen barren blocks. Of those with houses, more than a third of the structures are abandoned.

The staggering numbers come from recently released data from an unprecedented survey of all of the city’s parcels, led by the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force and Motor City Mapping.

Much of the area just west of the airport has been slated for demolition because of federally recommended safety zones alongside the airport. For years, arsonists have struck the empty houses, leading to their demolition.

The neighborhood around the demolition area has continued to deteriorate, becoming a dumping ground for trash, sofas, mattresses, scavenged boats and even bodies.

Here is a look at how the neighborhood has fallen apart over the past four years, using street-level Google Maps.


8500 Kenny

8300 block of Kenney

8000 block of Kenney

8400 block of Lyford

8000 block of Lyford

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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