Detroit's Lost Poletown: The Little Neighborhood That Touched a Nation

Detroit's Lost Poletown: The Little Neighborhood That Touched a Nation

by Brianne Turczynski
Detroit's Lost Poletown: The Little Neighborhood That Touched a Nation

Detroit's Lost Poletown: The Little Neighborhood That Touched a Nation

by Brianne Turczynski


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Poletown was a once vibrant, ethnically diverse neighborhood in Detroit. In its prime, it had a store on every corner. Its theaters, restaurants and schools thrived, and its churches catered to a multiplicity of denominations. In 1981, General Motors announced plans for a new plant in Detroit and pointed to the 465 acres of Poletown. Using the law of eminent domain with a quick take clause, the city planned to relocate 4,200 residents within ten months and raze the neighborhood. With unprecedented defiance, the residents fought back in vain. In 2004, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the eminent domain law applied to Poletown was unconstitutional-a ruling that came two decades too late.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781467145794
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date: 02/08/2021
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 676,797
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Brianne Turczynski is a freelance writer and historical researcher in Detroit. Her work has appeared in Halcyone Magazine, the 3288 Review, Michigan Out of Doors Magazine, The Record and others. She has won awards through Oakland University for her nonfiction, and she's currently producing and directing a documentary film about social changes in one of Detroit's oldest neighborhoods. In her spare time, she repairs broken violins and loves to fish. She resides somewhere in Michigan with her husband, children and the fastest dog that ever lived.

Table of Contents

Author's Note 7

Preface 11

Acknowledgements 17

Introduction 21

The Lost Neighborhood: A History 27

Poletown: What's in a Name? 27

Safety in Numbers 30

Polish Traditions Practiced in Poletown 33

Neighborhood Landmarks 37

Dodge Main 37

St. Joseph's Hospital 39

Beth Olem Cemetery 40

Hervey C. Parke School 43

John F. Majeski School 44

Immaculate Conception 45

What the Children of Poletown Remember 51

Candy Kitchen 51

Home Theater and Iris Theater 53

Potato Chip Central 54

Roaming the Neighborhood 54

"Everybody Knew Everybody" 56

Choir Kids and Altar Boys at Immaculate Conception 60

The Beginning of the End 63

A Highway Runs Through It 63

The Riots of 1967 64

Holding onto the Roots of Polonia 66

What About the Churches? 68

St. John the Evangelist 71

Troubled Times at Immaculate Conception 73

The Powers-That-Be 77

Rumor or Truth? 77

General Motors and Coleman Young 80

Dollars and Cents 82

Eminent Domain in the Case of Poletown 87

Celebration for Hamtramck 89

Exodus 94

The Resistance 97

Looters and Arson 100

The Last Moments of Poletown 104

Farewell, Father Joe 116

Remnants of Detroit's Lost Poletown 118

On the Film Poletown Lives! 118

The Scholarly Book Poletown: Community Betrayed 119

The Bruce Harkness Photos 120

Pieces of Immaculate Conception 124

Epilogue 127

Notes 131

Index 141

About the Author 143

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