Exploring with James
Detroit’s New Center
Published 2013-06-29 · By James Bursa
About 3 miles north of downtown Detroit is an area called New Center. The area has some notable buildings that you shouldn’t miss when visiting the city.
This mural is on a railway viaduct near the boundary between Midtown and New Center.
Just west of Woodward Avenue, on Grand Boulevard, are two impressive buildings by Albert Kahn. The first is the Fisher Building (1929).
Here’s the Art Deco facade of the 26 floor tower.
If you visit, be sure to go inside the 3 story lobby arcade. Huge chandeliers hang from above.
There are balconies, lots of marble, and intricately decorated ceilings.
The building is mainly offices, but also contains a theatre. When I went, on a weekend, it was almost empty, except for a security guard.
This is the main entrance. Reflected in the glass is the General Motors Building.
The General Motors Building (1922) is now used by the State of Michigan. There are four wings and a central spine set back from the street.
Here’s the main entrance. The building is now known as Cadillac Place.
The interior doesn’t seem that impressive after seeing the Fisher Building lobby, but it’s still grand and luxurious.
Heading a few blocks north, there are residential streets of big old detached houses in good condition. Here are some on Bethune Street.
A few more, with the Fisher Building in the background.
Just a few blocks away from those houses I found areas like this, with overgrown and almost empty lots. All my visits to Detroit have been in the Spring, so the abandoned lots look lush and green, and probably less depressing than at other times.
This colourful mural is back on Grand Boulevard, on the opposite side of Woodward Avenue from the Fisher and General Motors buildings.
Also nearby in New Center is one of the first Ford factories, the Piquette Plant. It’s now a museum, but I didn’t get a chance to look inside.
That’s all from New Center. Here are a few other Detroit discoveries I made.
The Dequindre Cut Greenway is a former railway line, now a park, which stretches from the river to Eastern Market. It was raining when I found it, so I’ll have to explore it next time I visit.
Just west of downtown is this building that I hardly noticed on my first two visits. From the outside, it’s just another slightly run-down industrial building.
It’s the John K King bookstore, and inside are four floors packed with used books. I spent at least an hour browsing and found several books I’d been looking for.
It’s the largest used bookstore I’ve ever seen, and I recommend a visit.
Finally, here I am eating at American Coney Island, one of the famous Detroit “Coneys”. A Coney or Coney Island is the Michigan name for a hot dog or hot dog restaurant, presumably after Coney Island in New York.
Look at my Detroit set on Flickr for many more photos of Detroit from my three visits there, or click on any of the photos in the article for more details or a larger view.
The Historic Detroit site has more information on these buildings.