Requiem for a Neighborhood

In the farthest Southern point of Southwest Detroit lies a neighborhood called “Oakwood Heights”. A place I have always considered abysmal. There’s a asphalt plant on one side, a salt mine on the other, then an oil refinery and a river. Marathon Oil Company, who operates the refinery, bought up all the land and is allegedly turning it into a park. While many homes are already boarded up or being demolished, some are still occupied.

While shooting, I spoke with a man named Mike. Mike’s friend isn’t thrilled about the buyout as he has a welding shop that does well. He’s worried about relocating somewhere where he won’t be able to walk to work and wants to find somewhere where the taxes won’t kill his business. Mike said they’d been welding together since they were kids, and he was 61 now. Overall, however, It seems that most residents have been happy to take their check and get out. While it reminds me of Poletown, there is certainly a much better vibe about it all.

These shots are the neighborhood and some areas around it, mostly controlled or influenced by Marathon Oil.