New Center, Detroit

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New Center, Detroit, Michigan
Cultural enclave and neighborhoods
Grand Boulevard looking west through New Center. The National Historic Landmarks Cadillac Place (left) and the Fisher Building in the background, with the Hotel St. Regis on the right
Grand Boulevard looking west through New Center. The National Historic Landmarks Cadillac Place (left) and the Fisher Building in the background, with the Hotel St. Regis on the right
Country United States
State Michigan
County Wayne
City Detroit
Time zone Eastern Standard Time (North America) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern Daylight Time (North America) (UTC-4)

New Center is a prominent commercial and residential historic district located uptown in Detroit, Michigan, adjacent to Midtown, one mile (1.6 km) north of the Cultural Center, and approximately three miles (5 km) north of Downtown. The area is centered just west of the intersection of Woodward Avenue and Grand Boulevard, and is approximately bounded by the Virginia Park Historic District on the north, the Edsel Ford Freeway (I-94) on the south, John R. Street on the east and the Lodge Freeway on the west.[1] New Center, and the surrounding areas north of I-94, are often referred to simply as the North End.

The heart of New Center was developed in the 1920s as a business hub that would offer convenient access to both downtown resources and outlying factories. Some historians believe that New Center may be the original edge city—a sub-center remote from, but related to, a main urban core.[1] The descriptor "New Center" derived its name from the New Center News, an automotive-focused free newspaper begun in 1933 that continues to operate under the name Detroit Auto Scene. From 1923 to 1996, General Motors maintained its world headquarters in New Center (in what is now Cadillac Place) before relocating downtown to the Renaissance Center; before becoming a division of GM, Fisher Body was headquartered in the Fisher Building. Both Cadillac Place and the Fisher Building are National Historic Landmarks. In addition to the government and commercial offices along Woodward and Grand Boulevard, New Center contains the Fisher Theatre, the Hotel St. Regis, the Henry Ford Hospital, restaurants, and residential areas.


Streetscape on Cass, looking north, in the New Amsterdam Historic District

In 1891, Detroit mayor Hazen S. Pingree broke ground on the construction of Grand Boulevard, a ring road that wrapped around the city of Detroit.[2] The Boulevard ran for 12 miles (19 km), curving from the Detroit River on the west to the river on the east and crossing Woodward Avenue at a point approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) from downtown.[2] The Boulevard was originally thought to represent the absolute limit of the city's expansion, although tremendous growth at the beginning of the 20th century quickly pushed the city limits far beyond Grand Boulevard.[2]

In the 1890s, major railroad infrastructure known as the Milwaukee Junction was built just south of Grand Boulevard to facilitate industrial expansion in the city of Detroit.[3] To take advantage of the rail line, industrial plants were built in this area on both sides of Woodward Avenue, with the automotive industry prominently involved. Part of this area east of Woodward is now the Piquette Avenue Industrial Historic District, while the area west of Woodward and south of the railroad tracks is the New Amsterdam Historic District. Most notably, in 1904, Burroughs Adding Machine Company built a large factory on Third, and the following year Cadillac built an assembly plant just to the east of Burroughs.[4]

In 1915, Henry Ford bought the financially struggling Detroit General Hospital and its lands on Grand Boulevard and Hamilton (just west of Woodward) and reopened it as Henry Ford Hospital with 48 beds.[5] Soon after, Ford broke ground on a 50,000-square-foot (4,600 m2) facility at the same location; the larger hospital opened in 1921.[5]


The Fisher Building, which has the headquarters of Detroit Public Schools

In the late 1910s and early 1920s, the automobile industry in Detroit grew rapidly. The economic surge made land in downtown Detroit difficult to obtain.[1] The lack of suitable parcels frustrated William C. Durant in his search for the optimum location for his planned General Motors headquarters. Durant looked to the north, and settled on a location just west of Woodward Avenue on Grand Boulevard.[1] A the time, the area was a residential district of private homes and small apartment buildings.[6]

Woodward Avenue looking north past Grand Boulevard

Durant hired Albert Kahn to design his building, and ground was broken in 1919. The building was originally to be called the "Durant Building", but Durant left the company before the building was completed, so when it opened in 1922, the building was called the "General Motors Building" [6] (now the Cadillac Place). As General Motors continued to grow, the company required more space. In the later 1920s, they built a second building, the General Motors Research Laboratory (also known as the Argonaut Building), also designed by Kahn, directly south of their headquarters. The building was built in two phases, and was completed in 1930.[7]

Around the same time, the Fisher Brothers of Fisher Body followed General Motors to the area. They broke ground on their eponymous Fisher Building in 1927, located across Grand Boulevard from the General Motors Building.[1] The Fisher Brothers also hired Kahn, and spared no expense to construct their headquarters building. The followed this up with the construction of New Center Building (now the Albert Kahn Building), completed in 1932.[8] The Great Depression, however, forced the Fishers to break off their plans to construct a complex of buildings in New Center, including a grandiose three-towered version of the Fisher building.[8] In 1940 Saks Fifth Avenue opened their fourth full-line department store in this building.[9] The store closed in 1978 and relocated to Fairlane Town Center in Dearborn.

New Center townhomes on Pallister

Henry Ford Hospital has continued to expand. The hospital has built numerous additions to their campus since its inception by Henry Ford, from the Clara Ford Nursing Home in 1925 to their high-rise clinic in 1955 to hospital apartments in 1976.[5] In 1992, Henry Ford purchased the old Burroughs headquarters to the south and renamed it One Ford Place.[5] The building is now the Henry Ford Hospital corporate headquarters.

In 1966, the Hotel St. Regis was built on the north side of Grand Boulevard near General Motors' headquarters. In 1988, the hotel was doubled in size.[10] In 1980, General Motors built another addition to the heart of New Center, New Center One, located across Grand Boulevard from their headquarters. The new eight-story building housed retail stores, offices, and some divisions of General Motors.[11]

In 1977, General Motors began refurbishing some of the residential neighborhoods north of Grand Boulevard. The result was the "New Center Commons", a collection of refurbished single-family homes on the north side of New Center.[12] With the revitalization of Virginia Park, New Center has two distinct historic residential neighborhhods within its boundaries. General Motors also facilitated the rehabilitation of some multi-family dwellings. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, new townhomes and condominiums were constructed in what had been empty areas of New Center, including a section along Woodward just north of Grand Boulevard.[12] Additional loft renovation (as well as TechTown, the research and business incubator hub) took place at the same time within the New Amsterdam Historic District.

New Center served as a kind of corporate campus for GM for 70 years. However, the company left the area in the 1990s, moving their headquarters to the Renaissance Center downtown.[1] The old General Motors Building—now called Cadillac Place—is occupied by the State of Michigan. The economy of the New Center area is largely dominated by the Henry Ford Health System, the Detroit Public School system with their headquarters in the Fisher Building, and over 2,000 State of Michigan employees in the high-rise office complex Cadillac Place.


Name Image Location Summary
Arden Park-East Boston Historic District Street scene in Arden Park-East Boston.jpg Arden Park and E. Boston Aves. between Woodward and Oakland Aves.
42°23′19″N 83°4′49″W / 42.38861°N 83.08028°W / 42.38861; -83.08028 (Arden Park-East Boston Historic District)
The Arden Park-East Boston Historic District was platted in the 1890s east of Woodward in what was then the far northern reaches of Detroit. The neighborhood was platted with large lots which feature richly planted trees and flowers, and attracts wealthier residents; some of the neighborhood's first residents included Frederick Fisher, John Dodge, and J.L. Hudson. The neighborhood, along with nearby Boston-Edison (also on the register), remained a premier address for residential living in Detroit with about 92 large homes and mansions.[13][14][15]
Atkinson Avenue Historic District Atkinson avenue historic district.JPG Atkinson Avenue between the Lodge Freeway and Linwood Avenue South of Boston-Edison, it contains approximately 225 homes built from 1915 to 1925.[15]
Boston-Edison Historic District Street scape in Boston-Edison.jpg Roughly bounded by Edison St., Woodward and Linwood Aves. and Glynn Ct.
42°22′54″N 83°5′50″W / 42.38167°N 83.09722°W / 42.38167; -83.09722 (Boston-Edison Historic District)
The Boston-Edison Historic District is a historic neighborhood consisting of over 900 homes, primarily built from 1905 to 1925 which makes it the largest residential historic district in the nation.[15] Historically significant residents include Henry Ford, James J. Couzens, Horace Rackham, Charles T. Fisher, Peter E. Martin, C. Harold Wills, Clarence W. Avery, Sebastian S. Kresge, and Clarence Burton. It is one of the largest residential historic district in the nation.
New Amsterdam Historic District New Amsterdam streetscape - Detroit Michigan.jpg 435, 450 Amsterdam;440, 41-47 Burroughs; 5911-5919, 6050-6160 Cass; 6100-6200 Second; 425 York
42°21′56″N 83°4′21″W / 42.36556°N 83.07250°W / 42.36556; -83.07250 (New Amsterdam Historic District)
The New Amsterdam Historic District contains a mix of industrial, commercial, and government/utility buildings constructed primarily near the turn of the century. Industry in the district was enabled by the construction of major railroad infrastructure, known as the Milwaukee Junction, in the 1890s. The district includes the original Cadillac assembly plant.
New Center GrandBoulevardNewCenterDetroit.jpg 7430 2nd Ave. and 3011 W. Grand Boulevard
42°22′11″N 83°4′39″W / 42.36972°N 83.07750°W / 42.36972; -83.07750 (Fisher and New Center Buildings)
Cadillac Place and the Fisher Building are National Historic Landmarks in the New Center area. The significant complex demonstrates some of the finest craftsmanship and artistry in Art Deco style buildings. Both were funded by the Fisher brothers (of Fisher Body) and designed by Albert Kahn. New Center is a vibrant residential community. The Hotel St. Regis in 2016 will be another Historic Landmark in the New Center Area.
Piquette Avenue Industrial Historic District Piquette Avenue looking east from Woodward. Fisher Body Plant 23 and the Ford Piquette Avenue plant are on the left; Fisher Body Plant 21 is on the right. Roughly bounded by Woodward, Harper, Hastings and the Grand Trunk Western Railroad Line
42°22′5″N 83°3′57″W / 42.36806°N 83.06583°W / 42.36806; -83.06583 (Piquette Avenue Industrial Historic District)
The area along Piquette was an important center for automobile production in the early 20th century. Ford Motor Company, Studebaker, Cadillac, Dodge, and Regal Motor Car had plants in the area, as well as suppliers such as Fisher Body. In 1911, the two largest automobile producers in the world, Studebaker and Ford, were located next door to each other on Piquette. The district includes the National Historic Landmark Ford Piquette Avenue Plant.
Virginia Park Historic District Virginia Park Streetscape.jpg Both sides of Virginia Park From Woodward Ave. to John Lodge Service Dr.
42°22′29″N 83°4′54″W / 42.37472°N 83.08167°W / 42.37472; -83.08167 (Virginia Park Historic District)
In 1893, Virginia Park was platted with 92 relatively small lots. Requirements ensured that only well-to-do businessmen and professionals could afford to erect a home in the neighborhood. Most of the homes were built between 1893 and 1915, in Tudor, Neo-Georgian, Bungalow and Arts and Crafts architectural styles.


The Henry Ford Health System Headquarters in New Center

Culture and contemporary life[edit]

New Center has a retail section, primarily along the Woodward and Grand Boulevard corridors. The Cadillac Place state office complex and the Fisher Building are National Historic Landmarks in the area.[16][17] An area south of Grand Boulevard along Woodward contains some retail stores in the district which have existed at their present location since the 1920s.[17][18] The boutique Hotel St. Regis, Detroit is adjacent to the Fisher Theatre.

On April 15, 2012, Wayne State University started construction in New Center, on a new $93 million, 200,000-square-foot, Multidisciplinary Biomedical Research Building. The MBRB will provide space for about 500 researchers and staff and 68 principal investigators. The building will occupy an entire city block bounded by Amsterdam, Cass, Burroughs, and face Woodward Avenue. [19]

On May 30, 2012, Henry Ford Health System officially announced the beginning steps of a $500 million revitalization effort of 300 acres, on the western edge of New Center, into a mixed-use development area bounded by Rose Parks, Marquette, Commonwealth, and railroad tracks to the south. The goal is to draw medical users, R&D labs, distribution facilities, and light assembly centers for medical equipment to an area largely overrun by blight. Health system's Chief Operating Officer Robert Riney said the plan will start with building a $30 million, 275,000-square-foot, 24-acre medical equipment, pharmaceutical distribution, and warehouse facility for Ohio-based medical supply company Cardinal Health. He believes the project will then attract an additional $500 million in outside development over time. [20] [21]

The Consulate-General of Lebanon in Detroit is located in Suite 560 in the New Center One Building.[22][23]

New Center hosts the annual summer-long series of events in New Center Park and includes a 1,000 person outdoor concert venue with a center stage capable of hosting national acts.[24]

Homes on Pallister, a pedestrian street in this block.
Apartment buildings on Seward on the north side of New Center.

Grand Boulevard, along its entire extent, became an attractive residential address at the beginning of the 20th century.[2] This was also true in the area that was to become New Center. At the turn of the century, a number of private homes were built along Grand Boulevard and in the neighborhoods to the north, notably including what is now the Virginia Park Historic District on the northern edge of New Center.[12] Interspersed in the area were small apartment buildings. Larger apartment buildings were constructed in the area in the 1920s to serve the population of workers and visitors to the area after larger office buildings had been built on Grand Boulevard.

In June 2014, the six-story, 64,000-square-foot addition, built in 1984, that’s annexed to the Hotel St. Regis in New Center was sold. A $4 million conversion is underway, that will renovate the St Regis annex into a residential building with 60 apartments, along with valet service and rooftop terrace amenities. The ground floor space that was once used as a restaurant and banquet center, will now offer further services for the residents. Occupancy is expected in the fourth quarter of 2015. The building will be renamed the St. Regis House. [25] [26]

According to the New Center Profile market study paid for by the New Center Council, Inc.:

  • Population: 3,185
  • Housing Units: 2,346
  • Employees: 20,962
  • Size: 60 blocks/500 acres

On December 1, 2014, Michigan Humane Society reported that construction was underway on a new state-of-the-art animal care campus on the eastern edge of New Center. It’s a $15.5 million, 34,000-square-foot facility at 7887 Chrysler Service Drive near Clay Street. A community dog park will be available to the public on the more than 4-acre campus site. The larger shelter will enable the society to expand its teaching and training opportunities with Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, the society said on its website. Construction is scheduled to be completed in early 2016. [27] [28]

On February 15, 2015, M-1 Rail reported that the Penske Tech Center was under construction in New Center. It’s a $6.9 million, 19,000-square-foot structure that will serve as M-1 Rail headquarters, the operations center, and the streetcar maintenance facility. The tech center building will be sited close to Woodward Avenue, and located between E. Bethune and Custer streets north and east of Grand Boulevard with the streetcar storage yard behind. The exterior will be made of reddish brick to mimic the historical look and feel of the surrounding neighborhood, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2015.[29]


Previously WTVS (Detroit Public Television) had its studios in New Center.[30][31]


New Center is within the Detroit Public Schools district. DPS has its headquarters in the Fisher Building.[32] The district paid the owner of the Fisher Building $24.1 million in 2002 so the district could occupy five floors in the building.[33] Officials claimed leasing the Fisher Building as its headquarters was more economical than a remodel of the Maccabees Building in Midtown where the district previously had its headquarters.[34][35]

Three schools, Golightly K-8, Loving Elementary, and Thirkell Elementary, serve sections of New Center for elementary school.[36] Golightly K-8 and Durfee K-8 serve sections of New Center for middle school.[37] All residents are zoned to Northwestern High School.[38]

Previously Sherhard K-8 served sections of New Center for elementary and middle school.[39][40] Previously Hutchins Middle School served sections of New Center for middle school.[41] Previously Murray-Wright High School and Northern High School served sections of New Center, while at the time Northwestern High School did not serve New Center.[42]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Randall Fogelman, Detroit's New Center, Arcadia Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0-7385-3271-1.
  2. ^ a b c d Richard Bak, Detroit Across Three Centuries, Sleeping Bear Press, 2001, ISBN 1-58536-001-5, p. 60.]
  3. ^ Eric J. Hill, John Gallagher, and the American Institute of Architects Detroit Chapter, AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 2002, ISBN 0-8143-3120-3. pp. 168-169.
  4. ^ Fogelman, pp. 57-66.
  5. ^ a b c d Fogelman, pp. 9-20
  6. ^ a b Fogelman, pp. 22-23.
  7. ^ Fogelman, p.32.
  8. ^ a b Fogelman, pp. 37-48.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Fogelman, p. 84-85.
  11. ^ Fogelman, p. 35.
  12. ^ a b c Fogelman, pp. 87-100
  13. ^ The Detroit Historic District Commission
  14. ^ Arden Park East Boston from Boston-Edison
  15. ^ a b c Cityscape Detroit - see neighborhoods
  16. ^ "Workers begin recount of Detroit mayoral race." The Detroit News. December 9, 2005. Retrieved on August 15, 2010. "The day got off to a slow start in 1 Cadillac Place, the former GM headquarters on West Grand Boulevard,"
  17. ^ a b Fogelman, pp. 67-71
  18. ^ New Center. Retrieved on July 8, 2009.
  19. ^ Henderson, Tom (April 15, 2012).WSU to build $93M biotech hub. Crains Detroit Business. Retrieved on March 7, 2015.
  20. ^ "Henry Ford Health System Plans $500 Million, 300-Acre Detroit Development". 
  21. ^ "Blight removal in Detroit isn’t impossible, but it is difficult". 
  22. ^ Home page. Consulate-General of Lebanon in Detroit. Retrieved on February 1, 2009.
  23. ^ "Contact Us." Consulate-General of Lebanon in Detroit. January 10, 2006. Retrieved on November 7, 2009.
  24. ^ New Center Park
  25. ^ "Barbat builds his portfolio of downtown real estate". 
  26. ^ "Barbat set to turn St. Regis House into a success". 
  27. ^ "Humane Society building space for animals in Detroit". 
  28. ^ "New MHS Detroit Animal Care Campus". 
  29. ^ Gallagher, John (February 15, 2015). "M-1 Rail's Tech Center Under Construction". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved February 15, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Driving Directions." WTVS. Retrieved on December 8, 2012.
  31. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions." WTVS. February 4, 2005. Retrieved on December 8, 2012. "Detroit Public Television 7441 Second Avenue Detroit, MI 48202"
  32. ^ "School Location Map." Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved on November 7, 2009.
  33. ^ Oosting, Jonathan. "Audit: Detroit Public Schools overpaid millions for real estate after middle-man markups." September 24, 2009. Retrieved on November 7, 2009.
  34. ^ Duggan, Daniel. "Freman Hendrix asked about Detroit Public Schools’ $13 million lease in 2001." Crain's Detroit Business. November 4, 2009. Retrieved on November 7, 2009.
  35. ^ Duggan, Daniel. "Construction profits for Detroit Public Schools’ projects excessive, Bobb says." Crain's Detroit Business. October 28, 2009. Retrieved on November 7, 2009.
  36. ^ "Elementary Boundaries - 2012/13 School Year." (Archive) Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved on November 1, 2012.
  37. ^ "Middle School Boundaries - 2012/13 School Year." (Archive) Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved on November 1, 2012.
  38. ^ "High School Boundaries - 2012/13 School Year." (Archive) Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved on November 1, 2012.
  39. ^ "Elementary Attendance Areas." Detroit Public Schools. July 10, 2003. Retrieved on November 3, 2012.
  40. ^ "Middle School Attendance Areas." Detroit Public Schools. July 10, 2003. Retrieved on November 3, 2012.
  41. ^ "Middle School Boundary Map." Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved on November 7, 2009.
  42. ^ "High School Attendance Areas." Detroit Public Schools. July 10, 2003. Retrieved on November 3, 2012.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°22′09″N 83°04′37″W / 42.3693°N 83.077°W / 42.3693; -83.077