Sometimes you can’t fully appreciate something unless you see it in person. That was certainly the case for the subject of the Demolition Supplement lead feature, “Determined in Detroit.” I’ve been hearing and reading about the blighted and abandoned housing situation in Detroit for years, but I didn’t fully appreciate what this city was going through until I turned my car onto Vaughn Street in the southwestern part of the city in February.
I traveled there from Cleveland with a staff videographer to meet with a crew from Adamo tearing down several houses on the street. What looked like what was at one time a charming neighborhood was now a spattering of occupied homes right next door to abandoned home after abandoned home with broken-out windows, no doors and spray painted with graffiti. I was surprised when a worker told me that the part of Detroit we were in was “one of the better” areas they’ve been working in.
Right before our eyes, an operator knocked down a 2-story house on a corner lot. The whole process of demolishing the house with an excavator and attachment took only a couple of minutes. Then the excavator was loaded up and it was on to the next house a block or so away. A couple of miles away on Forrer Street, another demolition firm welcomed us. A crew from Homrich was loading material from a house demo job into a large truck to be hauled away. Dozens of other crews from other firms also were out demolishing houses that frigid day in February, streets still heavily lined with snow from a day earlier. That is what I call dedication.
I want to personally thank Chris Mathews and Tim Sherman of Adamo as well as Anthony Abela and Austin Straub of Homrich for taking time out of their days to meet with us and show us this important work. John Adamo’s comments and Tim Homrich’s help coordinating the visit also were key to the article and video we created.