Response to the preface of the CY history book
By Randy Norwood
After reading the preface from Cooper-Young: A Community that Works [reprinted in the September LampLighter], I am definitely looking forward to reading this interesting book. Since Cooper-Young is an older neighborhood that remained relatively stable all through the years when Memphis pushed the city limits east, it should be enlightening to read how the neighborhood did not succumb to white flight, slumlords, failing businesses, deteriorating property values, and increasing crime rate as many areas in Memphis did, especially in the 1970s.
However, in the rather rosy introduction to the book, the authors seem to imply that most of the houses in Cooper-Young have been renovated and that hardly any houses have been abandoned. Of course, this is not the case. I live in the area, and I have noticed several dwellings that need extensive work, as well as some that are boarded up. These distressed houses are not common, but there are several scattered throughout the neighborhood.
Nevertheless, Cooper-Young is on an upswing. Strong neighborhood and business associations, coupled with middle and high income home owners, have transformed the area into a trendy, family-friendly neighborhood that people are genuinely connected to. In many ways Cooper-Young is an oasis in a harsh urban environment. However, there is plenty of work to be done to make sure the deterioration and neglect of some Cooper-Young houses does not continue.