Conant Gardens, a relatively affluent area of Detroit inhabited by the black middle/upper class.

Conant Gardens: An Early Home for Detroit’s Black Middle Class

Image: Home in Conant Gardens Neighborhood, a relatively affluent area of Detroit inhabited by the black middle/upper class.

Google Maps overview of Conant Garden Neighborhood on Detroit's northeast side

Google Maps overview of Conant Gardens Neighborhood on Detroit’s northeast side

As one of the few places in the city where African Americans were able to buy property in the mid-20th century, The Conant Gardens Historic District is a pretty significant historic landmark in the city. It played an important role as a destination for many upwardly mobile families who moved out of Black Bottom before 1956.

The area was not very populated until the 1920s and the boom of the automobile industry. During this time, the area was to be developed for white collar Ford workers, but due to a lack of interest, the idea failed. However, the boom also led to a large, prosperous African American population, who could not find neighborhoods in which they could safely live, due to violence and covenant restrictions. Many African American families built their own homes in Conant Gardens or moved into preexisting homes in the area. Because the area was segregated, the Federal Housing Administration approved federally backed loans for the area after 1934.

The presence of Conant Gardens led city planners to assume that nearby white residents would be amenable to the construction of public housing for African Americans in the early 1940s, and sited the Sojourner Truth Housing Project in the area as an effort to relieve overcrowding and poor conditions in the Black Bottom neighborhood. This gave rise to significant racial tensions and rioting, and was a contributing factor to the 1943 Race Riots.

Currently, a neighborhood association that was created during that era is still in existence in Conant Gardens. Click here to see an interview conducted with a former resident of Conant Gardens.


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