The other half

Posted by jdg | Tuesday, February 03, 2009 | , ,

This has always been one of my favorite photos:

In this city where two million people once lived, less than a million remain. Half of the people are gone. This beautiful old Tudor Revival duplex sits along what was once one of the finest streets in Detroit, its mansions now ruined, neglected, or turned into nursing facilities or group homes for unwanted kids. One half of this duplex was abandoned, its windows boarded over, its lawn untended. The other half of the duplex recently had a new roof installed, a security fence put up around the maintained front yard. The right half was a little shabby, but it was still obviously lived in and well loved.

This house came to symbolize much more to me than just someone else's home. Above all else, the house seemed to speak to how those still living in this city are bound to what has been left behind, bound even to the ghosts of the other half: those people whose children or grandchildren leave for better schools in the morning and return to safer neighborhoods at night.

A few weeks ago I noticed a yellow paper taped to one of the windows on the occupied side. I hoped it wasn't a shut-off notice or something to do with foreclosure. But then a couple days ago I saw a trailer sitting out in front of the home and men carrying furniture and belongings out of the occupied side. "Moving out?" I asked.

"Gotta go," the guy on the left said. "Just gotta go."