The Detroit News has a cool audio slideshow featuring playwright Beatrice Buck talking about Detroit’s “Paradise Valley” area that triggered about an hour of surfing from link to cool link. Since someone may audit my time, I figured it would be best to share all this stuff with you. If you have anything else to add, please do so in the comments!
According to Paradise Valley and Black Bottom from the Detroit News:
It’s not clear how the area came to be known as “Paradise Valley.” Some have speculated that it drew its name from the newly introduced Asian “Paradise” tree that grew very easily along fences in the area…
By 1936, the name Paradise Valley was firmly established and the neighborhood had its own informal mayor, Roy Lightfoot. The community also had its heros like Olympic star Jesse Owens, whose visit to the Valley inspired a celebration. And of course there was heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, the Valley’s favorite son. His mother, Lily Brooks, lived on McDougall.
Most of the venues have fallen the the wrecking ball, but if you want to tour the sites (in person or virtually) check out the Paradise Valley Tour put together by (and accompanied by) Bluesharp.org. The site gave a shout out to the book Paradise Valley Days from the Detroit Black Writers Guild. It melds historical photos and poetry and looks pretty darned cool (check the excerpt link). The News also has a tour with maps that shows the area in relation to modern Detroit.
The Pod 313 blog takes a story about Beatrice Buck, who is upset that a promised memorial to Paradise Valley has yet to be delivered, and adds some photos and context. Check out Paradise lost? Paradise Valley Memorial park delayed.