Remember when the old neighborhood was new?
Remember when corned beef was $1 a pound?
Remember food before it was fast or frozen ?
Remember the barrels filled with dill pickles at the Dexter-Davison Market?
Times change but the Jewish community of Detroit has remained cohesive in its northwest migratory patterns. From Lower Hastings to Upper Hastings, to Oakland County between 1910 and 1940, to the Twelfth Street and Dexter areas just west of Oakland, to Northwest Detroit, bounded by Eight Mile on the north, McNichols (Six Mile) on the south, Livernois on the east, and Evergreen on the west from the late 1930’s to 1960’s.
By 1945, as young Jewish soldiers returned home, there was need for affordable housing. According to Detroit historian Sidney Bolkosky, author of Harmony & Dissonance, Voices of Jewish Identity in Detroit, 1914-1967, “The promised land north of the Northwest neighborhood was Oak Park. . . the center of Jewish life. . . Oak Park bore the double blessing of proximity to Jewish institutions – synagogues, restaurants, butcher shops, markets.”
Tightknit families, bound by a strong sense of community, Jewish Detroit tended to move in clusters, as Jews have moved throughout history and as Jewish populations have moved in virtually all American cities.
From youth to middle age to decline, our neighborhoods come and go, and await renewal. Today we find our community, connected and engaged in a virtual space, as well as in real time and place. Growing closer or further apart? Time will tell as what is old becomes new again.