Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Vistas of Flint

Expatriates who return to Flint can sometimes find the physical changes to the city a little startling. This is a photo from the Hurley Hospital parking lot near Fifth and Begole, which now offers an uninterrupted view of Atwood Stadium in the distance.

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A Google Map of the area as it looked not long ago, including the big red house on Fifth Avenue once owned by the Airgood family. (Note the same yellow fire hydrant in the first photo and the Google Map.)

And here's the view from Atwood looking back at Hurley.

An aging tree that used to be in backyard of a house that no longer exists on Begole Street.

The lights at Atwood Stadium.

A view of the Atwood Stadium field with the remnants of Chevy in the Hole in the background.

The Hurley Hospital Community Garden.


  1. That garden has no chance of survival.

  2. I knew Flint was no longer my home when I drove by the Airgood house and saw it all boarded up. Everyone knew the kids or went to school with one and Mr Airgood would come over to St Mike's in his uniform. Mrs Airgood would be at bingo. Working of course. Oddly, I hung around at a house on Patrick one block over-my hubby's frat brother and his wife-The Greens-lived there and they were our witnesses when we eloped. I noticed the house was gone a few years ago while running the Crim. All those days walking down to the Hamady store on 3rd pushing a baby stroller for Annie. 38 years ago-so little of my early life is still around.

  3. jbontumasi@aol.comJune 21, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    I remember the Airgoods, What a fine family. Louie, Marty, lil' Glenn, Herb, Mary,and Cheryl. Yup, they paved paradise and they put up a parking lot!!!

  4. I was disgusted when the four houses on Begole got demolished in December. Apparently Hurley kept nagging the owners to sell, and unfortunately they finally gave in to the almighty dollar and did just that. That red house was probably my favorite in the city, and my stomach hurt for hours when I saw the pile of rubble that it was reduced to. That house only got boarded up after Hurley bought it; it was occupied before that.

  5. Thanks Gordie for the story of the house that we as a family were raised in starting back in 1958.

    No one will miss the grand old house more then us, but we have many great memories and pictures that we will cherish for years to come.

    I support the construction of the new Emergency Room. I know it was something that was really needed.

    I have heard they might use the block for parking, but I have also heard that they might buld new houses in that area, so if that happens I will be a bit perplexed why they would tear down some great old houses(with federal money?) that were in great shape! 713 Begole was just recentley remodeled from head to toe.

    Great picture of the old tree as well..the grand old oak could be seen by several of the houses tucked in around it. My mom always said it was at least 200 yrs old.

    I have a some history and more pictures of the old house at my account "flintstoner80"

    Thanks again Gordie!

    Glenn Airgood

  6. I understand the institutional motivation. Potential petty criminals regard neighborhoods as "cover"; they naturally see several hundred meters of lawn as presenting a tactical challenge to getting away from a criminal event. Much property crime is opportunistic and proximity-dependent. Other crime, i.e. drug selling, inherently involves long duration at a location, and benefits from low observability. If an institution creates a big enough moat (lawn) around itself, the frequency of interaction with bad guys in its vicinity will go way down.

    That analysis of course is completely inconsistent with any specific value the surrounding neighborhood might have...currently, or in memories, or in a hypothetical future where its architecture or location or proximity to the institution might be more valued. But the institution perhaps can be forgiven for its clear-eyed conclusion that if it doesn't save itself, it will have failed its strategic responsibility to the broader community it serves, the community will go down, and nothing else will matter.

    There's no doubt at all that the social functionality of institutions increases as crime in their immediate proximity decreases. Moats do work.

    Institutions of course don't set broad policy...they're just saving themselves. But, the policy lesson is there to be recognized. "Urban renewal" got a bad name when it came to mean destroying broad areas of viable housing and putting up socially dysfunctional high-rises so as to free up land for someone else to use. The *original* concept actually tear down low-occupancy neighborhoods and create green space, with social support to condense residents into fuller-occupancy neighborhoods, because the result was less total crime.

    Ruthlessly tearing down broad sections of low-value, low-occupancy housing is the only way to decrease total crime in a city with an insufficient tax base. It's an uncomfortable reality, but it's true nonetheless.

  7. JWilly, send me an email at gordieyoung (at) sbcglobal (dot) net

  8. You're right, Gordie. I was a little "startled" on my last drive through that part of town. Quite a few changes.

  9. I did considerable partying on Patrick street right there back in 1973-74.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at