New Center, Detroit
|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
|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 Ford Freeway on the south, John R. Street on the east and the Lodge Freeway on the west.
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. 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 boutique Hotel St. Regis, the Henry Ford Hospital, restaurants, and residential areas.
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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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. A the time, the area was a residential district of private homes and small apartment buildings.
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". 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.
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. 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. 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. In 1940 Saks Fifth Avenue opened their fourth full-line department store in this building. The store closed in 1978 and relocated to Fairlane Town Center in Dearborn.
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. In 1992, Henry Ford purchased the old Burroughs headquarters to the south and renamed it One Ford Place. 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. 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.
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. 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. Additional loft renovation (as well as the TechTown research incubator) 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. The old General Motors Building—now called Cadillac Place—is occupied by the State of Michigan.
|Arden Park-East Boston Historic District||Arden Park and E. Boston Aves. between Woodward and Oakland Aves.
||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.|
|Atkinson Avenue Historic District||Atkinson Avenue between the Lodge Freeway and Linwood Avenue||South of Boston-Edison, it contains approximately 225 homes built from 1915 to 1925.|
|Boston-Edison Historic District||Roughly bounded by Edison St., Woodward and Linwood Aves. and Glynn Ct.
||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. 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||435, 450 Amsterdam;440, 41-47 Burroughs; 5911-5919, 6050-6160 Cass; 6100-6200 Second; 425 York
||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||7430 2nd Ave. and 3011 W. Grand Boulevard
||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||Roughly bounded by Woodward, Harper, Hastings and the Grand Trunk Western Railroad Line
||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||Both sides of Virginia Park From Woodward Ave. to John Lodge Service Dr.
||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.|
- Argonaut Building (College for Creative Studies)
- Cadillac Place (state office complex)
- Detroit (Amtrak station)
- Fisher Building
- Henry Ford Health System
- Henry Ford Hospital
- Hitsville U.S.A.
- Hotel St. Regis, Detroit
- Metropolitan United Methodist Church
- New Center Building
- New Center One
- New Center Park
Culture and contemporary life
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. 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. The boutique Hotel St. Regis, Detroit is adjacent to the Fisher Theatre.
Grand Boulevard, along its entire extent, became an attractive residential address at the beginning of the 20th century. 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. 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.
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
New Center is within the Detroit Public Schools district. DPS has its headquarters in the Fisher Building. The district paid the owner of the Fisher Building $24.1 million in 2002 so the district could occupy five floors in the building. 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.
Three schools, Golightly K-8, Loving Elementary, and Thirkell Elementary, serve sections of New Center for elementary school. Golightly K-8 and Durfee K-8 serve sections of New Center for middle school. All residents are zoned to Northwestern High School.
Previously Sherhard K-8 served sections of New Center for elementary and middle school. Previously Hutchins Middle School served sections of New Center for middle school. 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.
- Randall Fogelman, Detroit's New Center, Arcadia Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0-7385-3271-1.
- Richard Bak, Detroit Across Three Centuries, Sleeping Bear Press, 2001, ISBN 1-58536-001-5, p. 60.]
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- Fogelman, pp. 57-66.
- Fogelman, pp. 9-20
- Fogelman, pp. 22-23.
- Fogelman, p.32.
- Fogelman, pp. 37-48.
- Fogelman, p. 84-85.
- Fogelman, p. 35.
- Fogelman, pp. 87-100
- The Detroit Historic District Commission
- Arden Park East Boston from Boston-Edison
- Cityscape Detroit - see neighborhoods
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- New Center Park
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