|Date(s):||1898 to 1909|
|Tag(s):||Industry, Pollution, Environment, Detroit, Development|
|Course:||“Environmental History in Detroit,” University of Michigan|
In its early years Delray was a rural community. When industry began to locate itself on the edge of the Detroit and Rouge Rivers, Delray began to transform into a hub of industry. By the late 1800s Delray was the home of burgeoning glass, furniture, railroad car, chemical, brick, wagon, salt, and iron industries. These industries fueled a large immigrant community, and set the stage for large-scale industrial developments on the river, with a nearby community of workers.
But the 1955 publication of the Detroit Master Plan zoned Delray as heavy industrial, and set in motion a conflict of industry and revenue over the dwindling Delray community. it is difficult to associate the change to any specific cause. One might certainly be the increased ability of workers to get to work without the traditional walk or railcar, which meant they no longer needed to live blocks away from the factories. This resulted in a reduction of nearby populations, and those left behind were often the poorer minorities.
Regardless, Delray changed at the turn of the century. These images show a gradual conversion from farmland to factories. There are wide open expanses around the factories, area that was initially fields and rivers changed rapidly into housing, or additional industry. These factories were often located on the waterfront, something very apparent in these images. This would be a factor that both polluted and isolated the water front from the local community. One image, labeled 'Site of Detroit Edison Plant 1899,' is an excellent example of this transition. It depicts what had been fields and farmland, as the eventual location of a massive factory. These communities that filled up the farmland around factories dwindled in the post war period, and industry began its effort to take back Delray. Yet despite consistent fires, disregarded pollution limits, dumping, and proposed developments for the betterment of the city, the Delray community is still kicking.