Detroit is speeding forward, transforming into a city of the future with new forms of mobility, technology and art. For that growth to have a solid foundation, we must acknowledge and respect the past, especially that of Detroit's neighborhoods. One legendary yet often forgotten place that holds much of Detroit's history is Delray, a neighborhood anchoring Southwest Detroit. Delray served as home to a world's fair, a safe landing for immigrants, especially the Hungarian community, as well as an incubator of manufacturing might. However, Delray is at risk of being forgotten under the weight of change, especially because of the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge. To better inform Detroit's future, to preserve the lessons and lives of Delray and to honor future generations, we need to preserve Delray through a living archive. Doing so will affect how we use our land and honor Detroit's residents now and into the future.
To preserve its memories, we want to create a living archive of Delray-related artwork, photos and home movies that tell the history of Delray since its founding through today. We will do this through community-center office hours, citizen meetings and online outreach. We also will collect former residents’ stories through oral histories about what it was like to grow up and live in Delray. In the second phase, we will collect today’s stories as Delray going through massive changes as a result of the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge. This second phase will include a photography show with current residents and respected Detroit photographers to show what they see in Delray. We plan on creating a peer-reviewed website that allows users to upload and describe their personal mementos, memories, videos and photography. We have support from Delray’s community center, its Detroit City Council representative and community members during the length of the project. We have talked to the Detroit Historical Museum and the Downriver Genealogy Society about housing the archive going forward. We also will share what we learn in talks, panels and photography exhibitions featuring residents of all ages and abilities.
During this crucial time in Detroit's renewal, we must not forget the lessons and lives that created our past. Help us preserve Detroit and Delray through your contribution.