The Detroit Ghetto Tour (Timeline of the Detroit Hoods)

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The Detroit Ghetto Story

The city of Detroit is the true definition of the quote “if you can make it here then you can make it anywhere”.  The streets within the Detroit ghetto have created and produced a number of entrepreneurs, businessmen, and hustlers, and not just the stereotype of Detroit gangs and drug dealers.

A city that is mostly divided between the East Side and West Side, while there are other sections like the Southwest or Highland Park and the North End, the East and West sides hold the majority of the population, which means the two sides hold the majority of the streets.

Before the 1970s, the Italian Mob, also known as the Detroit Partnership, had the most control in Detroit from the beginning of the Prohibition to the height of the heroin trade.  Between the 1970s and the 2000s, a new era of Detroit came into effect, in which the streets of the Detroit ghetto created a number of hustlers in the form of Young Boys Incorporate, Black Mafia Family, Pony Down, Cash Flow Posse, Dog Pound, and many more.

Detroit Kingpins

Most know of the activities of Detroit kingpins, especially out of state law enforcement and authorities who for the past few decades have had to deal with plenty of Detroit residents who make the out of state trip to double or triple profits as this has been occurring since about the 1980s.

In a city of hustlers there cannot be a shortage of street legends. While the Italian Mob once controlled the city, things started to change with the likes of Blaze Marzette, who was one of the first true legends of the city’s underworld during the 1960s. The 1970s was when things took off for the city. Frank Nitti and Murder Row and the West Side’s own Young Boys Incorporated who allegedly made millions through the 1970s and the early 1980s.

As the crack era entered the city the number of Detroit kingpins and street crews increased. Big Ed, Maserati Rick, who received his name for his purchase of lavish and exotic possessions, Pony Down, a group of youths that were quite similar to YBI of the 70s, D. Holloway, who was more of an old school hustler with multiple revenue streams, and the Chambers Brothers whose ambitious hustling tactics led them high profits but also their downfall.

The following years into the 1990s and 2000s, the city would see a number of ‘hood celebrities and hustlers who would profit much more, in the case of Powell Brothers, and much less than the previous generations. The most famous of all-time would have to be two brothers from the West Side’s Puritan Avenue, Big Meech and Southwest T. From the West Side of Detroit to becoming a nationwide crew, BMF was one of the largest groups of righteous hustlers to come out of any city.

One hustle that was big in the city was murder for hire, also known as taking hits. Some of the ones with the most notoriety were groups like the Brown Brothers and the Best Friends, who were around during the 1980s, or individuals like C. Jones, who was linked to over 50 homicides, and Chester Campbell. If Blaze Marzette was one of the first Detroit kingpins, then Chester Campbell was the city’s first true hitmen who worked as early as the 1950s.

Today, the hustle of the streets within Detroit is still in effect.  Whether its trap houses, which explains for some neighborhoods consisting of so many vacant lots due to the city demolishing known dope spots, or the occasional road trip, either cross state lines or smaller town in Michigan.

Map of Detroit Hoods

A city that is mostly divided between the East Side and West Side has an unknown future as as outsiders are buying up property throughout the city and numerous streets only consisting of 2 or 3 livable houses on the entire block.

Detroit hoods map ranges from the West Side to the East Side of the city.  While this map may highlight Detroit gangs areas, though not specific gangs, the map truly breaks down all of the city’s ‘hoods from Exit 9 (Joy Road) to Chedda Ave. (Chalmers Avenue).

*The colors on the map do not represent any Detroit gangs, but blue for the West Side and red for the East Side.

Detroit Black History

The Detroit black history story might raise the question of what led to the decline of this once All-American city that brought in thousands of jobs and some might say was the birthplace of the automobile, while numerous car manufacturers gave many employment opportunities.

As the days of segregation were forcing the Detroit black population to be centered in one specific area sections of the East Side became designated for the black community, Paradise Valley and the Black Bottom, with Hastings Street becoming the heart of the city’s black community.

detroit black history

Integration. A convoy of African-American moving trucks protected by police cars. Whites had protested integration of the Sojourner Truth homes, a new U.S. federal housing project. Detroit, Michigan, Everett Historical / Shutterstock

The Detroit black population grew during the early 1900s as southerners migrated from small towns in states like Alabama.  The movement of African-Americans into Detroit led to the population to equal over 100,000 by the early 1900s, mainly due to the employment opportunities in the automobile industry as well the wartime positions that were available.

Before the city became predominantly African-American, Detroit black history had a reputation of much racial tension and conflicts due to the constant discrimination and racism the city’s black population would have to face.

detroit black history

The biggest event of Detroit black history was the Detroit Riots during the summer of 1967.  After years of experiencing discrimination the frustration led to a week-long riot of destroying neighborhood businesses and battling the law enforcement.

After the riot, the population loss of Detroit vastly increased, along with the loss of local businesses, with hundreds of families leaving the city for Oakland County and other suburban areas during the 1950s and 1960s.  This made the majority of the residents to reside in the suburbs rather than the actual city of Detroit.

The Detroit Ghetto of Today

The movement eventually led to 8 Mile Road to become the racial dividing line between the Detroit ghetto and the suburban communities of Oakland County as the city became predominantly black.

The East Side versus the West Side, an often debate about what side is better as the two have numerous blocks along streets like Joy Road or Mack Avenue, but to be noted there is not a current deadly or violent conflict between the two sides.

detroit ghetto detroit gangs

The West Side might seem more upkept and less dilapidated compared to the East Side where there is more dilapidation in the community and the ‘hoods of the East Side have a more grimey appeal to them.

The East Side might seem to be the most active section of the two, while the West Side may seem more laid back, flashy, and breeds hustlers, but those are only opinions and each side has the same features with very little differences.

detroit kingpins detroit ghetto detroit gangs

Outside of the West Side and the East Side, there is the Southwest section of Detroit that is home to the city’s Latino population, along with the Southwest’s black community, living in areas from McGraw to West Jefferson.

Currently, the city of Detroit has been losing residents year by year as much of the city’s once black community have relocated across 8 Mile into the suburbs of Oakland County, like the Southfield community, as the population is decreasing and the vacant properties are increasing.

A good note, many are optimistic about the future of the city of Detroit.  Currently, there is much rebuilding and a revitalization attempt of the city’s downtown area.  On the other hand, the actual communities of the Detroit ghetto have seen very little rebuilding as companies, out of towners, etc. are buying up properties throughout the city.

*Feature Image provided by Christopher Boswell/

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4 Legends of the Streets: City to city Top Kingpins

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*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research.  Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.