Detroit Now & Then: Unrest

1980's: Devil's Night Halloween Arson

Starting in the 1970's the nights around Halloween went from being a time of mischief and pranks to large-scale arson. As more houses in the city became vacant they became targets of opportunity for arsonists, and the number fires set during Halloween increased significantly during the 1980's. At its peak in 1984, over 800 fires were intentionally set. Community policing efforts have gradually brought the number of house fires in Detroit around Halloween down to around average.

Above, a house on Puritan Street burns on Devil's Night sometime in the 1980's. The house was eventually demolished, leaving an empty lot.

Original photo: Date unknown. Private Collection.
Current photo: September, 2013