Accounts of How 'Ghosttown' in Wilmington 'Got Clean'

When a long-time friend visited me in this part of Wilmington, he noticed that there were so many dogs in the neighborhood. Aggressive dogs held back only by sometimes very low fences, likely remnants of a past riddled with violence and the threat thereof.

For a little over 6 months, I've been a frequent visitor in a part of Wilmington that up until 2007 was full of drug-dealing.  A few times I've left valuable items in the car for a weekend and my car and its contents would remain untouched.  I've heard shootings at least twice, once at a school fair that I was actually at and saw someone react to, and once in some apartment. 

A lifelong resident commented, "you shouldn't be scared to live in your own neighborhood."

She talked about growing up in the West Side of Wilmington near what was known as the "PJs."  Also bad.  How during school, a helicopter would fly overheard during a shooting and tell everyone to run.  She talks about how girls would mess with her and her sisters, despite being out of the loop.

When I talked to a few other people who've lived there, they make it clear that being scared was exactly the situation residents faced.  That was the way of life there.  The accepted reality.

Another lady had a few gangster brothers who would claim streets.  She thought it was stupid because they'd never lived on a certain street they claimed. 

In broad daylight, drug dealers once snuck into their house.  Luckily they didn't steal anything noticeable or valuable.

The same lady talked about how for months she kept calling the police station or letting other people know otherwise what she had been seeing. A couple of neighborhood watch volunteers were actively monitoring the situation;  the lady kept asking them advice of how to handle the situation.  One volunteer said, "just keep calling the station and complaining."  So the lady pressed on.

One time this lady's neighbors had been making so much noise.  There was a lot of ruckus from people coming in and out.  She called the station.  No response.

She asked the volunteer, "why her complaints were not going through."

The volunteer assured her, "they're working on something big, so just be patient."

Weeks later, in the morning, the police had shut down the street she was on.  In sync, an army of police went in raided certain complexes.  Undercover cops as well as FBI agents had been on the case for months buying drugs and mounting evidence against them.  Those doing the deals were then evicted from the houses, the houses were sold quickly, and then "flipped."

"The neighborhood's been pretty relaxed since," said one guy.  "But it's a cycle.  There were periods when it was clean, and periods when it wasn't."


Anonymous said...

I bought a house in 'ghost town' six months after this article was written. And I've been here for four months now. No problems at all. I have absent mindedly left my car, garage and front door unlocked on many occasions. My truck parked on the street was broken into. My experienced opinion is: This place has issues, and it sure isn't pretty, but, there are many very decent people who live here.

Brian J. Delas Armas said...

I agree. Firecracker ruckus aside, it's been very hassle-free being here.