First published: Spring 2005
Hamtramck, a small city within Detroit, is made up of rows of tightly packed houses, built for the generations of immigrants who migrated there in the early twentieth century. The city, now literally bankrupt, is well past its prime. In the backyard of two of these small houses, on Klinger Street, is the environment its creator calls 'Hamtramck Disneyland.'
Dmytro Szylak, who was born in 1920, in the village of Lwiw, Ukraine, has spent much of his life as a factory worker. During the 1940s, he worked in a factory in a small German village, producing wooden barrels. In 1949, he married Katherine, also from the Ukraine, and in the same year they emigrated to the US. They first settled in Pennsylvania, and later moved to Detroit, with the hope of working in the auto factories. Dmytro took a job at the General Motors Hydromatic Factory and worked there for 32 years on the assembly line. He has lived in the same modest Hamtramck house since 1956, working and raising his two daughters.