The origins of Brush Park date back to the 1850s when development began on this affluent neighborhood in midtown Detroit, Michigan. Ornate homes and grand mansions continued to spring up towards the end of the 19th century, earning Brush Park the nickname the "Little Paris of the Midwest". Sadly, this distinction was relatively short lived.
With its close proximity to downtown Detroit, by the early 20th century many of the residents of Brush Park began moving to more modern, quieter districts. The neighborhood quickly transformed as Detroit's demand for more working-class residents increased. By the 1970s the economic downturn hit this area hard. Crime rose and depopulation continued through the 1980s, and soon Brush Park had become stereotypically symbolic of Detroit's decline.
Archival images paint a picture of Brush Park during its heyday. Following my exploration and photo essay of the neighborhood, I felt compelled to learn more. The contrasts between past and present are glaring, however there is a bright spot to this story. There have been several high profile property restorations in Brush Park in recent years, and with the new arena for the Detroit Red Wings under construction nearby there's also been a lot of talk about redevelopment. Several significant projects have already been put forward.
The "Little Paris" aesthetic of Brush Park now only exists in a few surviving historic homes, but the area does seem on the cusp of some major changes. As abandoned as it may appear, the impression I got from researching the area is that this is simply the equivalent of pulling everything back to the studs before starting a major renovation. Whether you see it as good or bad, like it has several times before, Detroit's Brush Park is once again evolving.