From the brick stoop of his white two-story house on the corner of Scott and Dubois on Detroit's northeast side, Pleas Taylor used to look out at the skeletons of burned-out, crumbling houses, hollow trees, and waist-high weeds that snared plastic bags and provided too much cover. The vacant houses "were too available to drug addicts and prostitutes. And you were always afraid kids would get abducted," says Taylor, taking a drag of his cigarette. "You can't supply a place for ignorance to hide."

Hiding spots are hard to find these days on Taylor's block. During a 10-day span starting January 28, a demolition crew razed the abandoned buildings and overgrown vegetation on his block and nine others. Their work was part of a pilot project by the Detroit Blight Authority, a nonprofit dedicated to eradicating abandoned buildings within the city.

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