Welcome to Gratiot.

One of those streets in Detroit I stumbled across while looking for something else. It’s quite the stretch. Took a pounding over the years, and what remains often looks as if it's permanently resigned to decline and destruction.


No one will ever walk through that door again, I suspect. No orders placed, no paychecks handed out.


I'm sure this brought a smile to everyone's face and a spring to their steps:


They could be germs, delighted that they're getting the upper hand again.

One of those buildings that look as if it’s been gagged and made to wear some head restraint. A sliver of the original structure can be seen on the left n the bottom floor; the right side seems to be something zoomed in until it’s pixelated.


And then, something that seems to have the character of its original incarnation! Except for the door and the cornice.

Some buildings are returning to life - I've been back and forth between the different visits, and there are signs of hope. As we'll see.

It was always thus, you suspect.


You imagine someone walking across the street going straight for the door and banging his leg into the hydrant

There was a reason for it, but it’s hard to imagine what. Unless it was that time when old buildings like this were regarded as ugly and archaic.


They were neither.



Had to be some sort of private club. Since this picture was taken, it was sold - and brought back to life! And so I learned that it was a police station.


So perhaps this will be restored by the time the cars come back around. But restored to what?



Reverse view. The demolished building - were the windows there before, or after? What was the reason for the elevated portion at the back?



When the signs of neighborhood downturns are old and faded, you know it’s been in the pits for a while.


“We Pawn Cars.”



There’s a story behind that small window on the right side of the sign. No idea what it could be.

It’s been through a lot. A lot. But you can see the elegant little classic flourishes on the roof.



If you put the decoration in the brick, it’s hard to destroy it. Hence this bit of Dutch design:



There is the history of the block, the street, the city, the century.




Here as well: the Zigzag Moderne touches speak to the new machine-age future. Zeppelins and . . . and television! Soon!



Will it come back? It could.



On the other hand, some places are past hope. Forty years past hope.


The natural world makes its bid for supremacy at its own pace.

A lot of money went into that terra-cotta facade. A couple hundred bucks of cement destroyed it.


Is there a town in America where people don’t know what this is?


Or was.

We’ll end here . . .

. . . but we’re only halfway done. It's a long, sad story. But there's hope, as we'll see next week.