Call us old-fashioned, perhaps, but we like the way Hamtramck’s neighborhoods look.
We say this in light of the recent debate on whether to allow those building new homes to enclose their porches, and also allow those who wish to install a driveway to do so.
Both of those things are now allowed by the city, provided each situation meets specific requirements.
These are not new issues. There have been folks here arguing for those things for years.
And there have been others who have pushed back, saying these changes would take away from the character of Hamtramck’s neighborhoods: where houses stand side-by-side, and folks hang out on their porches during warm weather and interact with each other – and look after each other.
It seems to us that, if you want an enclosed porch and/or a driveway, the simplest thing to do is to move to the suburbs.
One person arguing for allowing such exceptions says that open porches are now a thing of the past, that people no longer interact with each other in the neighborhood.
People no longer socialize on porches, he said. Instead, “They interact mostly on social media.”
The sad thing is, that’s largely true. We don’t connect or communicate face-to-face like we once did.
Instead, we’ve become more isolated, keeping to ourselves, seldom just looking out into the world and absorbing the lives of others.
How sad this is.
We view the closing off of porches as a further retreat from our communal ways It seems to say “we don’t care about you, go away.”
Driveways here in town just look out of place, and seem like a waste of space. Yes, we know parking spaces are precious here in town.
When Hamtramck was building up, most folks did not own a car. Back then, public transportation was real and dependable. In the Detroit area, it has become a joke over the years — something that is spotty at best, and often unreliable and occasionally, dangerous.
Modern life presents a number of challenges: But turning Hamtramck’s neighborhoods into a “mini” version of the suburbs is not the answer.
Open porches are symbolic of our neighborhoods coming together, fostering – not dictating, as one critic described it – mutual public interaction.
The day may come when we regret steering Hamtramck to the bland and impersonal look of suburbs.
Posted May 28, 2021