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Archive for the ‘trains’ Category

Youtube has a little bit of everything.  Everything!  Knowing that, I figured I would go there and search “plymouth mi” just to see what might pop up.  The first search result was a little “tour” (stretch to call it that) of Old Village by a local realtor, Russ Ravary.  He tell some very interesting historical facts about Plymouth.  Check it out.

This is not a professional grade documentary or anything of the sort.  It’s just this gentleman and his camcorder.

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Saturday morning, we had breakfast at Crawford’s Kitchen.  Mrs. Crawford greeted us with brand new menus, the covers which feature historic photos of Old Village.  She proceeded to tell us some very fascinating Plymouth history that she learned while designing the new menus.  She moved to another table and began sharing information with a gentleman in his 60’s who was dining by himself.  The gentleman knew quite a bit about history and began telling the rest of us some interesting things about town.

He explained that he learned a great deal of Plymouth history from a gentleman who had lived here all his life and died in his 90’s.  Through that man, our fellow diner learned that what is now downtown Plymouth used to be referred to as “upper town” or “uptown” and what is now Old Village used to be called “lower town.”  The story, it goes, is that “lower town,” which is east of the rail road tracks was referred to as that because the winds tended to carry the train smoke in that direction.  Upper town, to the west, didn’t get much of the black exhaust.

The differences in the two parts of town, even today, are quite stark.  Our historian friend pointed out the comparative infrequency of brick homes on the east side of the tracks.  Homes in Old Village tend to be wood framed and sided and more “working class” than homes downtown or otherwise to the west.

I’ve noticed (and previously blogged about) the different way in which the City of Plymouth fosters business and development on the different sides of the tracks.  Downtown gets all the festivals and all the infrastructure improvements.  Old Village appears to get. . . well .  .  . nothing.

My wife and I agreed (perhaps in ignorance) that the “upper town”/”lower town” thing smacked of urban legend.  I theorized that it had nothing to do with the train smoke, but the west side of town has always been the “nicer” part of town and, therefore, feelings of inferiority (or superiority, depending on who’s talking) caused people to start referring to that side as “lower town”; lower in everything.

Whatever the case may be, that stories like this are still being told in 2009 is, I think, fantastic.  The oral tradition is alive and well.  Our town has seen enough to tell those stories, to merit remembering.

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I’ve been lauding the opening of the Sheldon-M-14 railroad underpass.   It’s going to be a tremendous convenience to the people of Plymouth and Sheldon Road commuters.

I was shocked, though, to learn several things per today’s Plymouth Observer the most amazing being that the The entire project, which is not fully completed, cost $15,000,000. Yes, that’s right, 15 with 6 0’s behind it.  The project was originally slated to cost $8,000,000.

That’s a staggering amount of money.  I certainly hope that the convenience is worth it to the people of this area.  We’re the ones who are paying for it.

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Merry Christmas citizens of Plymouth (and surrounding areas.) After nearly two years, the Sheldon Road-M-14 underpass is open.  What a relief!

No longer will we have to drive through the middle of the City and/or Old Village to get to Northville or northwestern Livonia. If there are trains running through the middle of town, we can finally head under them at Sheldon Road.

My daughter went to school in Northville for two years and most of that time, our commute to school had to go through town due to  the underpass construction.  I can’t count how many times she was late for school because of trains.  Even when we started the trip with plenty of time to spare, trains (or the resulting backup) could take 10, 15 minutes or more to clear.  It was a headache, a maddening, soul-chomping commuter’s nightmare.

I can’t wait to use the underpass.  I think I’m going to drive it today just to do it, just for the hell of it.

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