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Detroit-Grosse Pointe border has a long, tense history

Dec 15, 2014

Credit pinehurst19475 / Flickr

To anyone who's taking a first-time drive, the border between Detroit and the city of Grosse Pointe Park provides a stunning contrast. Grosse Pointe Park is the western-most of the five Grosse Pointes. And driving east or west on streets like Jefferson, Charlevoix, and Kercheval will give you a real eye-opening lesson in racial and economic disparity.

But you cannot drive the main thoroughfare of Kercheval. That's because Grosse Pointe Park erected farmer's market sheds right in the middle of the street at the Detroit border. 

This past weekend Grosse Pointe Park removed 2 sheds from the street. Two more remain, blocking traffic. Reporter Bill McGraw has been digging into what people on both sides of that border say about those sheds for Bridge Magazine.

Listen to our conversation with McGraw below.

The current sheds have blocked off Kercheval Rd. McGraw says in the past Grosse Point has blocked off six other streets with steel guard rails, brick walls or signs that simply say "road ends."

McGraw spoke to many Grosse Pointe Park residents who said they believe officials when they say the sheds were not meant to keep Detroiters out, though they feel the creation of them was done in an awkward fashion.

The sheds themselves appear different from either side. Facing Grosse Pointe is the wooden face with openings where farmers sell their produce. The Detroit side has a more abrupt view according to McGraw, who describes the large cement barriers that were put up as a preventative measure after a car accident.

"The fact that its majority white on one side and majority black on anther causes all kinds of tension," according to McGraw.

Of the five Grosse Pointes, Grosse Point Park is the most racially diverse. The cities together have a rich history and many residents are strong supporters of the Detroit, having grown up in the city or currently working there.

The shed's blockade of Kercheval road is one of seven streets that are closed between the cities. This is a quarter of the 30 streets that connect the two.  

A preliminary agreement has been reached that calls for Grosse Pointe to eventually take down the sheds, while Detroit will deal with some of the blight along Alter Road.

*Listen to our conversation with Bill McGraw at 3 p.m. on Stateside