I got up bright and early on Saturday and thought I would check in on Wells-Goodfellow, a neighborhood that has long suffered from disinvestment, crime and the effects of decades of redlining. I always struggle with how to portray a community such as this: there are many parts of the neighborhood which look great, but there are many parts that quite frankly look terrible. And residents that I’ve spoken with have often been very frank and honest about those difficulties. I present these photos not as “ruin porn,” but rather as an honest assessment of a neighborhood that lost 1,422 people in between the 2010 and 2020 censuses. I’ve been looking at Wells-Goodfellow for over a decade, and I see the increased abandonment, and the new vacant lots and seas of tall grass where a city once existed. I had just been back in the spring of this year, which you can see here. I think the redevelopment of the Arlington School and adjacent blocks helped retain residents.
What I’ve always found interesting is that while there is a predominance of early Twentieth Century suburban development in the neighborhood, there was also a large number of rural housing out in what was the exurbs in the Nineteenth Century. The house above is on or near Semple Avenue. The field below is near Gundlach School.
These blocks are honestly really rough and the old shotgun houses built of wood are rapidly coming down; I don’t know if I have the photos anywhere, but there used to be many more a decade ago.
But then you head over to a street like Hebert Avenue, and there are whole rows of immaculately kept houses and two-family flats, and they deserve to be shown. No, the entirety of Wells-Goodfellow is not some giant disaster area; there are many proud residents who work hard to keep their corner of the city looking great.
They never get any attention, but they should; just a block away was the infamous Horseshoe. But this block stands proud, with just a few abandoned buildings.