Detroit's Corktown celebrates the history of Detroit's oldest neighborhood. From Irish immigrants in the 1840s to urban pioneers of the 21st century, this community has beckoned to the restless of spirit, the adventurous, and those who have sought to escape poverty and oppression to make a new life in America. While the city of Detroit has undergone tremendous change over the years, Corktown has never forgotten the solid working-class roots established by brave pioneers in the mid-19th century. Many of their shotgun homes are still occupied, and many commercial buildings have served the community for decades. Today the neighborhood is the scene of increasing residential and commercial development and has attracted attention throughout the region. No longer exclusively Irish, the community has also been important historically to the large German, Maltese, and Mexican populations of Detroit. Today it is a diverse and proud community of African Americans, Hispanics, working-class people of various national origins, and a growing population of young urban pioneers. It is still the sentimental heart of the Irish American community of metropolitan Detroit, and the Irish Plaza on Sixth Street honors the city's Irish pioneers and their 600,000 descendents living in the region.
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As a child growing up in Detroit, I was fortunate to have attended Douglas Houghton Elemtary School The school was located in Corktown. I recall that from September to December the girls would have to attend Home Economics class. I learned to sew, cook and bake. The boys would attend Wood Craft class. The following semester the girls would have Wood Craft while the boys attended Home Economics. We had very active gym classes, ballroom dancing, social studies and music. From the eldest of six sisters we all had the same 8th.grade teacher, Mrs. Silverman. She was a classic gem. The classes were a blend of children from many parts of the country plus many different countries. We were a blend of children of all nationalities, colors and ethnic groups. We learned to live together and get along. I participated in the Cherry Pie baking competition, Spelling Bee and Pull Ups and Broad Jump in gymnastics. I cannot compare the schools in California with Douglas Houghton. That little school in Corktown was ahead of it's time. Reading, writing and Arithmetic and good ole Phonics were the most important topics of the day. I am so grateful for having made friends from Malta, Mexico, Ireland, Scotland, England, Puerto Rico, China and all the other beautiful countries and parts of the USA. Thanks to all the fine teachers who taught at Douglas Houghton School.
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