Historic Detroit

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Birwood Wall - Photos

The Birwood Wall as seen from the Alfonso Wells Memorial Playground

The Wall is an artifact of segregation in the North part of the US.

The Wall was built by real estate developer James T. McMillan to keep Black Detroiters out of a new subdivision on the city's west side, which made it easier to obtain federal loans.

Running north to south from Eight Mile to Pembroke, it’s a strong reminder of the city’s segregated past.

Beautiful murals of equality, justice and joy now adorn the most visible portion of the wall.

"They are building an eight-foot wall a half mile long as a barricade against the negro families in this section. That is a serious handicap to the unity that we are striving for. Even in the South they wouldn't do anything like that." - Detroit Housing Commissioner Rev. Horace White on June 27, 1941 in the Detroit Free Press.

"They built it about 20 years ago, so the white folks on Mendota wouldn't have to see the Negroes on Birwood. Now there are no whites anywhere near the wall. - Mrs. Princess Boyd, 79-year-old resident of Eight Mile-Wyoming. Detroit Free Press, December 5, 1965.

In 2006, Detroit artist Chazz Miller and area residents painted a colorful mural across a stretch of the wall showing scenes from Black history, like Sojourner Truth leading children through the Underground Railroad, and images reflecting life in the Eight Mile-Wyoming Neighborhood.