Greek town is a historic district with good Greek food, a casino, and a historic Catholic church. Most visitors will find time to appreciate one narrow block of Monroe street, where the restaurants and bakery are located. Unfortunately, the city hasn't seen fit to simply close the street down and pave it with bricks for a pedestrian mall. It's a fun part of Detroit, and a great place to stop for lunch.
The Wayne County building is within Bricktown, but then so is St Peter and Paul's Church, the oldest church building in Detroit. The People Mover has a Bricktown Station in it's loop, which is located between the Renaissance Center staton and the Greek Town station. What I like most about Bricktown is the historic brick commercial buildings that stand so opposed to the shiny futuristic look of the Renaissance Center Complex. Jacoby's is the oldest pub in town, by the way. Live music is common here.
One of the most impressive county buildings in the country is actually privately owned, and the government has moved to another building! Thus, the massive 5 story structure, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and therefore can't be bulldozed, is nevertheless in doubt as to its purpose.
Designed by Detroit architect John Scott, and built between 1897 and 1902, is argued by Wikipedia author(s) to be the finest surviving example of Roman Baroque architecture, with a blend of Beaux-Arts and some elements of the neo-classical architectural style. Any lay aficionado or urban architecture would love this building for its combination of copper, granite, and stone, and for it's wealth of bronze ornamentation.
The exterior architectural sculpture, including the Anthony Wayne pediment was executed by Detroit sculptor Edward Wagner. The bronze sculpture, two quadrigas, Victory and Progress and four figures on the tower, Law, Commerce, Agriculture, and Mechanics, were made by New York sculptor J. Massey Rhind.
Today Cadillac Square is a small park with the Bagley Memorial Fountain, but until 2007 it was occupied by a bus transfer station constructed in the 1960s. During an earlier epoch, from 1841 until 1891, Cadillac Square was the site of the Detroit Farmer's Market.
There are two tall buildings a block east from Campus Martius Park, facing the small and otherwise diminutive Cadillac Square. Both buildings were built in 1927, and by the same owner, John J. Barlum, who lost them during the Great Depression. The taller 40 story Cadillac Tower was once the tallest building in Detroit, and comparable with the tallest of the time in Chicago and New York. The Cadillac Apartments was originally a hotel, but with ownership problems, the building fell into the hands of the city in 1941 due to unpaid taxes. Recently, the building has been renovated into studio and one bedroom apartments, as there is a website interested in letting out one or more of the 221 apartments now available.
The Civil War monument, formally known as the Michigan Soldiers and Sailors Monument was dedicated in 1872, and in attendance were, among others, Generals George Armstrong Custer, Philip H. Sheridan and Ambrose E. Burnside.
According to Wikipedia, in 2005 a re-dedication ceremony was held following the completion of the new Campus Martius plaza in downtown Detroit. The time capsule contained in the monument was opened, and the list of Michigan War Dead was updated to reflect all those killed from the Civil War up to April 2005 in Iraq and Afghanistan. Civil War re-enactors, members of the Grand Army of the Republic and associate organizations, representatives from the Detroit City Council, the Michigan National Guard, and the Second Baptist Church men's choir participated in the ceremony.
The monument features a four sided stone structure on which bronze plates dedicated to President Lincoln, Generals Grant and Sherman, and Admiral Farragut. Bronze figures representing the Navy, Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery are featured. Above these are four female allegorical figures, resting on pedestals, representing Victory, History, Emancipation, and Union. At the top is the towering bronze female Amazon, Michigania who wields a sword in one hand and a shield in the other. The monument is full of symbolic value that would take hours to decode.
At one corner, at the lowest level is a fountain. This is the work of Randolph Rogers who had previously created Civil War commemorative monuments in Ohio and Rhode Island.
During ceremonial dedication in late 1910, a time capsule was placed in the pedestal of this statue, but it was found missing when the statue was moved in late 1987. The bust and its base originally sat at the north end of Washington Boulevard at Grand Circus Park, but after restoration was moved to the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Randolph Street. The bust was re-dedicated in 1988. This work was a donation by the Italian sculptor Augusto Rivalta. Note the distinctive ship's prows in the base.
The 1849 Mariners church, which not only served sailors but also runaway slaves via the Underground Railroad was actually dragged some 900 feet east over a 21 day moving process in 1955, so that the original location could be used for other development. The current location remains an awkward one because it's very close to the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel Entrance, as well as the towering General Motors Rennaissance Center. This is an Anglican Church now incorporated by the state, but originally built according to the 1842 will of Julia Anderson. She had specified that on the site of her mansion would be built a stone building for the mariners who she observed had been so marginalized as outsiders to the city. So, the financial support for the church is independent from other parishes and congregations because during the 1800's the standard practice was to charge pew rentals–a practice that marginalized transients and common laborers to the rear of the church.
Wikipedia notes that the gothic style church is made with Lannon from Wisconsin. 1849 pipe organ was installed by the Garret House Organ Company of Buffalo, but was replaced in 1966 by an organ donated by architect Ralph Calder in memory of his wife, Helen. In 2007, D. F. Pilzecker & Company installed an organ with 78 ranks of pipes to replace the 1966 instrument. The stained glass windows were created by the J&R Lamb Studios of New York City in 1955. The rose window on the west facade contains symbols relevant to Christianity as well as those to represent the church's mission to serve sailors. The windows on the side walls contain scenes from the history of Detroit and the Bible, according to Wikipedia.
Also, note that behind the building is a bronze statue of George Washington, which was dedicated in 1966, shows the first president wearing a stone mason's apron. This is the work of prominent American sculptor Donald De Lue, whose wax mold was used to produce versions of this statue first in New Orleans, LA (1960), then later in Wallingford, CT (1965), Alexandria, VA (1966), Flushing, NY (1967), Lansing, MI (1982), and Indianapolis, IN (1987).
The Michigan Labor History Society organized a tribute to the labor movement within the automobile industry, and so built this large and impressive broken arch in Hart Plaza. Local artist David Barr designed and built the 30 ton and 63 foot tall twin stainless steel arcs that nearly meet at the top. This gap fills with light at night. Around the base are numerous granite stones with bas relief bronze plate tributes designed by Italian sculptor Sergio de Guisti, who was living locally at the time of this work .
Built in 1929, the 7,500 foot long single span Ambassador Bridge once was the longest suspension bridge in the world. The web link below provides a great deal of additional technical data and architectural features of the bridge, much of which is very observant. The bridge links Detroit with Windsor, Canada across the Detroit River. Below the Bridge is a rather run-down park on the waterfront.
The I-96 and I-75 interchanges cut-off Mexican Town from Downtown. Since Mexican Town is a popular tourist area, the Bagley Pedestrian Bridge was built to re-connect downtown to this uptown area. The single tower suspension bridge design is architecturally significant, as are several sculptures and murals.
Quite near the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge is a small commercial district and surrounding neighborhood known as Mexican Town. Wikipedia defines the boundaries of this neighborhood as from Clark St. along W. Vernor Hwy. to Ste. Ann St., one block north of the Ambassador Bridge, Porter and Bagley, excluding the area within known as Hubbard farms. Naturally, a majority of the residents here are Hispanic, and this area is one of the more prosperous districts of the city. Canadians like to travel north across the Ambassador bridge for dining at one of the numerous Mexican restaurants, or shop for Mexican souvenirs. For those on foot, walk across the Bagley Pedestrian Bridge to see St Anne Basilica and the old Michigan Central Train Station building. Walk the other way, and you run into some not-so-nice residential areas.
Mostly concrete with little landscaping at this point, the riverfront at the Rennaissance Center is still worthwhile because of the sculptures on display there. This is a great place to take a sunset shot on the river. The People Mover track goes very close to the river in this area.
There is a non-profit effort to develop five and a half miles of riverfront from the Ambassador Bridge to just east of the MacArthur (Belle Isle) Bridge. Reportedly, some 3 miles have already been completed, mostly from near the Ambassador Bridge to the William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor, of which I hiked about 2 miles. I also visited a park on the other side of the Ambassador Bridge which is in dire need of redevelopment, but I'll write about that elsewhere. The stretch of waterfront at the William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor, includes a new light house tower and yacht harbor. The park included historical signs describing the Jewish and Black Heritage of Detroit, as well as, signs describing the wildlife and fish of the Detroit River ecosystem. This is a good area to fish, but an even better place to jog or walk the dog within view of the Rennaissance Center Buildings.
This is the smallest of the downtown churches but as the images show, it is both venerable and beautiful. Despite the exquisite ornamentation and it's location directly across from the nude figuring roofline of the Book Building, I found little on the history of this building. But I did find in Yelp, the following interesting description by Richard P.:
...Having attended old churches in Detroit for three years, and worked downtown for a year and a half, I thought that I had become familiar with most of the major institutions. And, while they are all unique, both inside and out, they all seem to be large, long, rectangular cathedral style buildings. St. Aloysius is very different.
...Rather than having its own lot, and sitting apart from other buildings, it is part of a row of buildings on Washington, just down from the Book Cadillac Building - much more subdued from the outside than your typical urban church...
...It is quite small, and more square or circular - not long and rectangular, like most others. In some ways, it feels more like a chapel than a church...
The more interesting aspect of the interior is that the church consists of three levels. The first level, the basement, has its own nave and altar - I had never seen a church with an altar in the basement before. The second level, which is street level, and where the main nave and altar are, has a large opening in the middle of the floor - between the altar and the first row of pews - where you can see down into the first level. The third level consists of a balcony, which basically wraps around the outside above the second level. So, the opening of space in the middle increases up through the levels.
This creates contrasting feelings of space. During the liturgy, readings, and homily, when the Priest is on the pew side of the opening in the middle of the floor, it seemed to be much more intimate, and up close than I have experienced before. Then, when the Priest stands behind the altar for the Eucharist, everything seems much farther away, since he is on the other side of the opening in the middle of the floor.
Worth checking out - but not if you are the type of person that likes to sneak in and out and sit in the back. There's no hiding here! Also, since I'm a pretty big guy, the pews - like at every other old Catholic church - were much too small.
The distinctive green copper roofline of the Book Tower make it one of the most recognizable skyscrapers in Detroit. Though now unoccupied and with an uncertain future, this 38 story Italian Rennaissance style building occupies a strategic location adjacent to the Rosa Parks Transit Center and principal People Mover station on one side and beautifully landscaped Washington Avenue pedestrian mall other. Grand River Avenue is the main entrance side of the tower itself, which is actually one of two planned tower additions to the much shorter Book Building, which has the nude figurines along the roofline facade. The other tower planned for the opposite end of the Book Building was never built due to the Great Depression. The tower was originally built in 1916, and was the tallest building in Detroit until 1928 when the Penobscot Building was completed.
Ownership and use have been a major concern only since the 1980's, for it was a prestigious Detroit address for many years. Unfortunately, recent signs of hope for restoration seem fleeting. Nevertheless, this building is ultimately assured preservation not only because it's outstanding architectural design, but also because it is with the Washington Boulevard Historic District, part of the original 1807 circular design of the city. Note the roof ornamentation...
84 E. Ferry St., Detroit, Michigan, 48202, United States
Good for: Families
I was not too sure about staying at this hotel as it was rated only 3 stars- but I was pleasantly...more
Traveling with my mother on a morning flight, so decided to stay at the Westin at DTW. Chipped...more