Sunday, June 15, 2014

Diggin Detroit

Detroit was once a vibrant, growing, wealthy city. The morning of us leaving on our trip we watched Detropia, which focused on the decline of the city from changes going on in the automobile city. One can find this on Netflix Streaming and I am sure other places If you are into history this is a very interesting documentary. Another one I watched was Rollin' about the  decline of the auto industry and the rise of the drugs and gangs in Detroit from the 60's, 70's, 80's.  Another good watch and on You Tube.

Whether traveling on motorcycle or car I specifically route myself to National Historic Landmarks and Places for photo ops and subsequent reading. Detroit was no different. We have just finished the Henry Ford Museum and there is plenty of light and time left in the day. So we headed into downtown Detroit via Michigan Ave.

First stop is Penn Station or better know as Michigan Central Station. This was built in 1912 and was in service until 1988. It is on the register. It is Beaux Arts in style and the main floor was modeled after a Roman bathhouse. The tower was built for office and retail space and was never fully occupied when it was still in use. At the time of construction it was the tallest rail station in the world. Since being abandoned, the building has undergone various proposals, however nothing has come of them as of yet. It is one of the most photographed buildings as an example of urban decay and ruins.

DSC_3890_1_2_tonemapped EStC

DSC_3881_2_3TM ES

Driving straight into the heart of Detroit on Griswold St is the Guardian Building, a National Historic Landmark. Construction began in 1928 and was completed in 1929. It was then known as the Union Trust Building and a perfect example of Art Deco architecture. It is 36 stories high capped by 2 asymmetrical spires. The interior is a combination of brickwork and tile, limestone and terra cotta.

MeAsWe protects the car a lot of times when I drive to somewhere to take picture. After spending probably 15 to 20 minutes inside I told she really really needed to go inside and look for herself. She said I can just look at your photographs. To which I said this is one you have to see for yourself, don't rely on my hack skills. When she came out the first words were WOW.

Guardian Building

Guardian Building

DSC_3941_001And3more 2TM ESSt

Guardian Building

DSC_3983_046_4_047_5_048Enhancer ES

From there we headed to the Fox Theater on Woodward Ave. This is also a Landmark. It opened in 1928 as a flagship movie theater for the Fox Theatres chain. It has 5,048 seats and is the largest surviving movie palace from the 1920's. It was acquired in 1988 by the Llitch's (founders for Little Caesars Pizza), who fully restored it at a cost of $12,000,000. Right across the street is Comerica Park where the Tigers play.

Fox Theater

Fox Theater

Comerica Park

Just down the street, hang a right and you will be at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant (a Landmark of course). It was the second home to the Ford Motor Company. It was built by Ford in 1904, where the Models B, C, F, N, R, S, and T were assembled. It was also in this building where Ford and his engineers developed the Model T. The first production "T" was built in 1908. After assembling 12,000 Model T's here, the factory was moved to Ford's new complex in Highland Park. The plant was sold to Studebaker in 1910 and we manufactured here until 1933.

Ford Piquette St Plant

Less than a mile away is the Fischer Building and the General Motors Building. When I pulled up, it was Sunday, right around 6:30 or so. As I hung a right off 2nd Ave onto W Grand Blvd I saw what looked like to me parking places for buses. I thought to myself what a strange place to have bus parking, but what the heck, traffic is almost (note I say almost) non-existent, so I pull into the first one, put the MINI in neutral, pull the handbrake, say to MeAsWe be back in a sec (which was more like 20 minutes), I am just gonna get a few pictures. When I came out of the GM Building I noticed a car pull up right behind the MINI. I busted out laughing, there was MeAsWe sitting in a running car, in the middle of a traffic intersection at a red light. I then see the car behind us, back up, pull up in the next, what I call bus parking spots, and wait for the light to turn green. When I finally got back to the car (I didn't dare go over while there were OTHER CARS there ), MeAsWe said I just slouched further and further into the seat and I didn't dare make any eye contact with anyone.(actually MeAsWe's account was I just played dead....which would not be all the unusual for Detroit and the other people just didn't give any notice) I did get some good pictures thou. See the map and the Green Arrow where I was parked.

GM Fisher Bldg

Holding up Traffic

The Fisher Building ( a Landmark) was built in 1928, located on West Grand Boulevard. It is designed in Art Deco style, of limestone, granite and marble. The building was built by the Fisher family after they sold Fisher Body to GM and was office and retail space. One of the tenants is the Detrott Public Schools.

Fisher Building

Fisher Building

Right across the street is the General Motors Building, now called Cadillac Place. Built between 1919 and 1926 it houses the Government of Michigan under a 20 year lease. They get to buy the joint for a buck at the end, if they so desire. Before that it served as GM's world headquarters from 1923 to 2001. Now you might think it was named after the car, but it was for the founder of Detroit, Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac. When completed it was the second largerst office building in the world. When I was inside the guard take all the pictures you want but not of the elevators. Hmmm?

General Motors Building

General Motors Building

General Motors Building
If you watched Mad Men, this was the lobby when they went to get GM as a contract.

So the list was complete, but I started reviewing the waymarks on the GPS and saw one not too far away, which was the Ford Highland Park Plant. We headed for it and this took us into more of the Detroit ruins. I passed the point that was marked as the plant, however it just didn't look right, so we didn't stop. We are about 1/2 way between downtown Detroit and the road called 8 Mile, culturally the dividing line between poor blacks and wealthier white suburbs. The trip was not wasted because now we had a view of the opulent area and not so opulent area of Detroit. As I write this the waymark was spot on and we were there. I just didn't look it right.

DSC_4184_5_6Enhancer ES

DSC_4046_7_8Enhancer ESC

Piquetter St Church

Lots more picture inside CLICK HERE

No comments: