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Tuesday May 23, 2017
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First In, Last Out



The southeast side's lower prices reflect its history. Some older residents interviewed in a 1989 Observer article recalled it as a poor area, with shacks and shanties, but also sociable, with families getting together to play bingo and cards or to go ice skating. Starting in the 1930s and increasingly after World War II, developers began to subdivide the remaining farms and fill them with modest bungalows and ranch houses.

Originally part of Pittsfield Township, East Ann Arbor became an independent city in 1947. Centered on the commercial strip at Packard and Platt, it was a place where plumbers and autoworkers lived down the street from firefighters and a few professionals. Many worked at auto factories in Ypsilanti, Wayne, and elsewhere. All became citizens of Ann Arbor in 1956, when East Ann Arbor agreed to be annexed by its larger neighbor.

The area's blue-collar workers were hit especially hard by the recent recession and the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler. As labor contracts were renegotiated, "wages went from something like thirty dollars an hour with benefits to fourteen dollars an hour with no benefits," Washtenaw County treasurer Catherine McClary said at the time. "We're really seeing a tremendous slide in median income." People who once earned good livings took part-time jobs as handymen or waitresses.

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