Dayton’s Bluff and Points Between
June 3, 2012
Today’s mission-a nice long ride to Dayton’s Bluff, the neighborhood just east of downtown that overlooks I-94 and Lowertown, Turns out it took quite a bit longer to get to Dayton’s Bluff than I expected because of things I saw on the way.
For example, Rooster’s at Randolph and Chatsworth.
Just north on Chatsworth was this old fire truck.
What can I say about this vehicle and still keep the PG rating of this blog?
Finally, Dayton’s Bluff!
Dayton’s Bluff is a mixed neighborhood with a similar mixed history. Dayton’s Bluff, as it was to be known, was named after land speculator Lyman Dayton who platted the area in 1857.
In the 1860s and ‘70s Dayton’s Bluff’s gorgeous vistas attracted some of the city’s richest citizens including James Hill.
Gradually, those folks moved west as Summit Hill became the City’s premier address. Dayton’s Bluff popularity reminded high until the Great Depression. The 1930s and ensuing decades were hard on Dayton’s Bluff and it slowly but continuously slipped in status. Probably the biggest indignity was the construction of Interstate 94, which isolated Dayton’s Bluff from downtown and severely interrupted the fantastic westerly view.
Today, Dayton’s Bluff is a contrast. It has a diverse population racially and socio-economically.
I saw houses being renovated and repainted but I saw more vacant homes than anywhere else I’ve ridden. There remains an abundance of gorgeous Victorian era houses. But the neighborhood has among the highest concentration of poverty in the City. On nearly every block, children were outside having fun, running around, and playing games.
Third and Maria (pronounced ma-RI-ah) is one of the major intersections in Dayton’s Bluff. It’s also the site of tragedy, hope and renewal.
Another symbol of renewal and hope is this well kept organic vegetable, herb, and flower garden, called Dayton’s Bluff Children’s Community Garden. It is one of seven on the east side created and run by the Community Design Center.
job skills, help them make connections to career opportunities, teach them sustainable growing methods, promote active involvement within their community, and explore healthy lifestyle and food choices.
One of the most beautiful and noticeable homes on Dayton’s Bluff is the Queen Anne-styled Adolph & Anna Muench House at 653 East Fifth Street.
The fresh, bright yellow clapboards, crisp white trim and dark blue accents on the front of 270 Maria give a dramatic preview of what the house will look when the repair and painting are complete.
Tanesha Beard, more commonly known as Taz, saw me taking pictures of her work so she came down to see what I was doing. She said she has done most of the exterior restoration and painting on this Victorian house, built-in 1900. She has a cousin who works with her occasionally. She’s spent a month and a half to prep the house. Taz told me about what the renovation has entailed, “Lots of prep work, replacing rotting boards. I’ve been here about a month. These aren’t the original colors in the front. We are changing it up obviously. We’re adding more detail to it. Enriching the look of the house.”
Taz enjoys painting the Victorian-era houses, “I love the detail. I love doing the detail work. I like bringing beauty out of a house that looks beat up and bringing it back to life. A lot of people don’t have patience and can’t do it but I find it to be relaxing. I can be up in the air, do my own thing…”
Taz’s work at a house a couple of doors down led to this job. “I’m really proud of my work and that’s what keeps me going. I can stand back and be proud of what I’ve done.”
People stop all the time to watch progress. The impact can be extreme. “If the homeowner is happy, I’m happy. I do like to have the nicest house on the block, Taz said and laughed. “It brings the value of the neighborhood up. It helps it look a little better.”
Talking to Taz was a real pleasure. Her enthusiasm, dedication and the pride she takes in her work are inspiring.
My Dayton’s Bluff excursion continued on several other nearby streets including Conway, Fourth and Fifth Streets. Still, that leaves me with many more Dayton’s Bluff thoroughfares to ride.
Then it was down Kellogg Boulevard to Lowertown. I approached Union Depot, busily undergoing renovation in preparation for its October re-opening, and took a detour for a closer look.
There was a small construction crew working as I nosed around. Fortunately, they must have decided that this 50-something guy wasn’t going to cause any trouble and they completely ignored me.
I spent a good 20 minutes walking around the Depot grounds, snapping pictures before getting back on my bike for the journey back home. Today’s sights were numerous and varied. Although I met only Taz, it was an interesting conversation that I’ll not soon forget. I’ll make a point to get back to 270 Maria to see how it turned out on my next ride to Dayton’s Bluff.