My city is littered with a few row house apartments, and several of them have fallen into disrepair. I noticed one listed in the real estate classifieds a couple years ago, and the asking price was just $40,000, with all four units rented. Maybe these structures lost out to the rise of suburban apartment complexes, with the siren call of dishwashers and steady maintenance service.
My daughter attended a birthday party in a row house situated about a block away from the buildings shown above. The birthday house had gorgeous woodwork inside, all wood floors and staircase. The place had a charm that had not dimmed with time and the sinking economic prospects of its neighborhood.
My family moved into a house right next door to these row houses back in the early 80’s. The term “motley crew” definitely applied to the residents back then. Nearly every car parked on the street, all of which looked impossibly long, had roach clips with feathers hanging from their rear view mirrors. One woman attempted suicide on a random Saturday morning, and the radio resting in her open kitchen window was broadcasting “Only the Lonely” by the Motels as the medics loaded her into the ambulance.
I’ve heard rumors that the row houses on Haller Street have since become crack houses. When I took a walk to take this picture, I did not get the sense that something so malevolent had salted this earth, at least not thorougly. Judging from the chatter I heard, I think the same combo of irreverence and light hedonism that helped their predecessors survive the Reagan years still reigned over this street.
After I took this picture, I could hear two men discussing my appearance as I walked away. One asked the other if I really lived down there, and his friend replied, “No, I haven’t seen her around. I’d remember that ass.”