Not long ago I was at work and found myself with a little time to kill. I was between projects and didn’t have anything to get started on before getting the answer that was holding me up. While I waited for that answer, I thought I would poke around on the web.
I wound up checking out Google Maps Street View. After looking at a few arbitrary locations, I punched in my childhood address to see what would happen. The first time I tried this, street view wasn’t available for the city block that I lived on. This time, however, I was virtually inserted into my destination.
Before long I was staring at an image of the house I grew up in, and it was depressing. Fond childhood memories became clouded by the Google images of a neighborhood that was literally falling apart. Homes were missing and my old home looked like it wasn’t too far from joining them. Some of the others homes on my block had fallen down over the fifteen years that I’ve been gone.
I moved up and down the street to see the houses of old friends. I was not surprised to see them in the same condition as my old house, if not in worse shape. The corner store that I shopped at as a kid was gone, as was the old mill down the street. All that was left were scattered empty lots surrounded by row homes.
Curious to see how other sections of the neighborhood were holding up, I virtually headed over to visit an old friends house. This one particular friend easily had the nicest house out of all the people I hung out with as a kid. I easily found the house, but it appeared to have began to fall apart when the family I knew moved away.
This house was rather unique and it quickly stood out against the other homes on the block. It was a corner house and due to the way it sat on the lot, there was a car-port just outside the back door. Above the car-port was a large deck which we used to sit out on at night as kids. Sometimes we would sneak a couple of beers up there and have a good time carrying on.
I moved on to check in on the previous homes of other friends and family members only to find them in much the same shape. The neighborhood appeared to be slowly deteriorating and it was a sad sight to see.
Before my family moved out of Philadelphia, things were getting pretty bad. Crime was running rampant and the sounds of gunshots and fighting drug dealers filled the night air. When we moved I wouldn’t accept that the neighborhood was going downhill and resented the fact that my family was exchanging their urban home for a suburban one. Looking back at it all and seeing what has become of the old neighborhood, I can easily see it was the best choice my family could have made.
The image above is what is left of a close friends house. The wooden mass above the gated area is the deck I mentioned. It looks nothing like it used to. In fact, based on my memories, the old deck would have made for a great place to sit with friends and enjoy a cigar and a beer while we got caught up on years past.