Skates were the top Christmas present during Shamplain's childhood. She had the style that would strap to sneakers, tightened with a key. She and the other children liked to skate along the slope near the laundromat.
"You knew the kids with the key were tough," she said.
Shamplain's father owned the Harlem Car, which hosted such acts as
"We had a sense of community," Shamplain said. "It was a community and a well-knit community."
But the decades have not been kind to the area. As common as churches, barbershops and beauty salons, there now are empty lots matted with weeds. Convenience stores are still around, but they have barred windows. Two restaurants sit on opposite sides of the street, long since abandoned. There's a nightclub, but it has dealt with waves of violence, including a recent homicide.
And don't expect to see children playing along the streets.
Shamplain is not looking to turn back time, but she is looking for a reinvention.
"I hope it's real," said
"This is as far as we've ever got," Brown said. "Each year gets a little bit closer and a little bit faster."
Included in the vision are Southern-style restaurants, music venues playing music from the "Chitlin' Circuit" era and venues to learn historical crafts like making cane syrup and net mending.
"We need to keep the heritage alive, have a place to view history so young people can know who, what, when, where and why," said former Commissioner
Wilson is one of the few business owners who have stayed. Wilson's Barbershop, at Ninth Court, is still in the same location as it was when Shamplain was a child.
"Black businesses started disappearing," Wilson said.
While that history is rich and worth honoring, many attribute the reason the black community was so tight-knit in Glenwood is because it was left to fend for itself; segregation created the culture.
"Many of these things children are exposed to now were not available to them based on legal segregation," said
The project has a 10-year plan. Shamplain said if everything goes right, the district could start to resemble the plan after three years. The first steps for the Downtown North CRA are acquiring property and attracting developers. Shamplain said the plans, especially specific locations, are still conceptual. The conceptual plan cost the city
Of the 1,453 parcels, 29 percent are government-owned; 50 percent of the district is publicly owned or vacant. Shamplain said the CRA has
"Some of the considerations have to be a partnership with developers," she said. "We can't build grocery stores."
Burch stressed that while the businesses left, he believes there is an attitude that persists, something that can apply to a project like the cultural district.
"We always had in our mind, we didn't know how it was going to happen, but better times were going to exist for the next generation," he said. "I believe, with the country moved to the point that is aimed towards equitable treatment of all people, each generation is going to better off."
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