Residents and businesses work together in Dearborn's Eastborn neighborhood

The houses and businesses in Dearborn's Eastborn neighborhood reflect the diversity of its people. Stately brick homes neighbor modest vinyl-sided ones on lots considered small by today's standards. The houses--mostly built in the 1940s and 1950s, though it's clear where older houses have been demolished for the construction of bigger, modern homes--are full of all sorts of families, white, black, Middle Eastern, and more.

It's a demographic that's always changing, says Michael Bewick, Executive Director of the East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority. He points out a Mexican family opening a restaurant on Michigan Avenue, also Eastborn residents.Neighbors join together to clean up Eastern. Photo courtesy Erin Byrnes.

Bewick's office is located on the southern border of the Eastborn neighborhood, a collection of homes, businesses, schools, and places of worship bound by Ford Road to the north, Oakman Boulevard to the east, Michigan Avenue to the south, and Greenfield Road to the west.

For Bewick, Eastborn is a reflection of Dearborn as a whole.

"A lot of the neighborhoods in the city are very similar in the fact that the majority of the neighbors get along with each other and they're always looking out for each other," he says.

In that regard, Eastborn is no different. That was on full display this past Saturday, May 20, for Eastborn Neighborhood Cleanup Day. An estimated 80 volunteers gathered to pick-up litter and trash in a neighborhood-wide beautification campaign. Residents, Fordson High School and Woodworth Middle School students, members of the Dearborn Police and Fire departments, and business owners in the EDDDA all gathered to pick up their neighborhood.

The Cleanup Day was first organized in 2014 by Erin Byrnes, who grew up in Dearborn and is still heavily involved in the community. After attending Eastborn Neighborhood Association meetings, Byrnes listened to and learned from Eastborn residents. The Cleanup grew out of those conversations.

This year's Cleanup Day started from its original central meet-up point, Argyle-Williamson Park, but also grew to include City Hall Park. Byrnes grew up playing in Argyle-Williamson, and is thankful for the opportunity to return and make a meaningful and positive impact there. In addition to the cleanup, volunteers planted flowers and perennials.
Photo courtesy Erin Byrnes.
"Eastborn is home. This means the world to me," says Byrnes. "It's been phenomenal in terms of the energy and wonderful sense of community we've experienced. It's our hope that the cleanup builds on that."

Just as how neighboring residents are working together, so, too, are the businesses. And there are a lot of businesses in Eastborn. The neighborhood is bounded by Ford Road and Michigan Avenue, a state trunkline highway and United States highway, respectively. Both highways are main thoroughfares for the region, and not just the city of Dearborn. That means a lot of traffic, which also means a lot of businesses.

Many of those have been around for decades, including M&M Cafe, Green Brain Comics, and Stormy Records. Others are representative of the Middle Eastern influence on the neighborhood, many of which have been around for decades themselves. There are hookah lounges and markets, and plenty of restaurants, like La Shish and Manaeesh Cafe And Cheesecake Gallery. There are also national landmarks, including the Arab American National Museum.

Regardless of the type, business in Eastborn is good. Bewick says that for the district his EDDDA represents, East Downtown Dearborn boasts a commercial vacancy rate in the low teens. And Eastborn makes up a big part of that success. Those neighboring businesses are working together. Bewick cites an example last fall where Joe's Top Dog Restaurant & Bar and designer clothing store Al Wissam banded together to throw an outdoor fashion show.

"We're a well-kept secret that we're trying to tell everybody about," says Bewick.

In what's billed as one of the state's oldest and biggest, Dearborn's Memorial Day Parade kicks off in Eastborn this Memorial Day, Monday, May 29 at 10 a.m. It starts at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Maple Street and travels west down Michigan.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.

Read more articles by MJ Galbraith.

MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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