Corktown, Detroit

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Corktown Historic District
Corktown Detroit.jpg
Bagley Street in Corktown
Location Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Coordinates 42°19′50″N 83°03′50″W / 42.33056°N 83.06389°W / 42.33056; -83.06389Coordinates: 42°19′50″N 83°03′50″W / 42.33056°N 83.06389°W / 42.33056; -83.06389
Architectural style Colonial Revival, Late Victorian, Federal
NRHP reference # 78001517[1]
Added to NRHP July 31, 1978

Corktown is a historic district located just west of Downtown Detroit, Michigan. It is the oldest extant neighborhood in the city.[2][3] The current boundaries of the district include I-75 to the north, the Lodge Freeway to the east, Bagley and Porter streets to the south, and Rosa Parks Boulevard (12th Street) to the west.[1] The neighborhood was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.[1]

The Corktown Historic District is largely residential, although some commercial properties along Michigan Avenue are included in the district.[4] The residential section is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as a City of Detroit Historic District. The neighborhood contains many newer homes and retains some original Irish businesses.[5]


The Great Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s resulted in extensive Irish migration to the United States and Canada. By the middle of the 19th century, they were the largest ethnic group settling in Detroit.[3] Many of these newcomers settled on the west side of the city; they were primarily from County Cork, and thus the neighborhood came to be known as Corktown. By the early 1850s, half of the population of the 8th Ward (which contained Corktown) were of Irish descent.[3] Historically, the neighborhood was roughly bounded by Third Street to the east, Grand River Avenue to the north, 12th Street to the west, and Jefferson Avenue/Detroit River to the south.[3]

By the Civil War, German immigrants had begun making inroads into the Corktown neighborhood.[5] Many immigrants had come from German provinces after the revolutions of 1848. By the turn of the century, the original Irish population had diffused through the city, and new immigrants, notably Mexican and Maltese, moved into this older housing.[5] As the century progressed, migrants from the American South, both black and white, were lured by the jobs in the automobile industry and also went to the city.[5] By the middle of the 20th century, the area of Corktown was reduced through urban renewal schemes, the building of light industrial facilities, and the creation of the Lodge Freeway and Fisher Freeway.[3]


Tiger Stadium was in Corktown at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Street until its demolition in 2009.
The UIS Irish Plaza is a park and memorial dedicated to honoring Metro Detroit's Irish immigrant community and their descendants.

On May 21, 2006 the United Irish Societies Irish Plaza was dedicated[6] as a "memorial for past and present members of the Irish community, and the starting point for the St. Patrick's Parade for present and future generations to come."[7]

On June 30, 2015, Quicken Loans announced the opening of its new state-of-the-art, 66,000-square-foot Technology Center in Corktown, at 1401 Rosa Parks Blvd. The new facility was to feature two 10,000-square-foot server rooms in addition to training, office, meeting, and technical support space. Half of the data center, including one server room, will be occupied by the Quicken Loans' technology team. An equal-sized 33,000 square foot portion of the building, including the second 10,000 square-foot server room, was to be available for lease. [8] [9]

On February 2, 2016, the Detroit Police Athletic League announced the development of its new headquarters and youth sports facility at the old Tiger Stadium site at Michigan and Trumbull avenues in Corktown, and plans to break ground there in early April. The new PAL facility will be an L-shaped building on the Cochrane and Michigan Avenue sides of the site, leaving the historic playing field open. PAL intends to install a synthetic surface at the site rather than maintain natural grass there, as artificial turf is cheaper to maintain and more adaptable for a multi-sport facility planned for daily use. Opposite the PAL facility across the playing field, a $37-million mixed-use development, The Corner, by Larson Realty which broke ground in early 2018. It will create residential, retail and commercial space along the Trumbull and Michigan Avenue sides of the property. Together these two projects will completely redevelop the 10-acre site of the old Tiger Stadium.[10]

On September 3, 2016, the new Trumbull & Porter boutique hotel, formerly known as the, Corktown Inn, opened after more than a $10 million renovation of the building.[11][12]

On May 8, 2017, Soave Enterprises broke ground on Elton Park, a $150 million, multi-phase, mixed-used development. The first phase will have 151 apartments, and 13,400 square feet of retail space, and is expected to be completed by late summer 2018. The project will include the redevelopment of the Checker Cab Building, and new construction. When completed Elton Park is planned to have 420 apartments and 30,000 square feet of retail space on a 4.5-acre site, at the northwest corner of Eighth and Elizabeth streets. [13]

Ford Corktown Campus[edit]

The historic, once abandoned Michigan Central Station was purchased by Ford Motor Company in May 2018 and is expected to undergo a significant four year renovation.

The Ford Motor Company began development on an urban campus in Corktown in 2017 with its purchase, renovation and occupation of The Factory building at Michigan and Rosa Parks.[14] Ford later began buying up other parcels of land in Corktown including a very high profile purchase of Michigan Central Station which is planned to become the hub of their Corktown campus, and the adjacent Roosevelt Warehouse.[15] Plans for the new $740 million Corktown campus include 1.2 million square feet of mixed-use development spread over multiple parcels. The focus of the campus will be on autonomous vehicles and electric vehicles. Ford expects to move 2,500 of its employees, roughly 5 percent of its southeast Michigan workforce, to the campus with space for an additional 2,500 entrepreneurs, technology companies and partners related to Ford's expansion into Autos 2.0.[16] Bill Ford said he envisions the first-floor concourse of the train station to be a gathering place, open to the public, filled with restaurants and retail.[17]

Ford's entire Corktown campus that encompass 1.2 million square feet, and spread across four buildings are:

  • Michigan Central Station (MCS), at 500,000 square feet, and installing more than 1.000 historically correct windows.[18]
  • The vacant Detroit Public Schools Book Depository, adjacent to, and with a tunnel connection to the MCS at
    2231 Dalzelle Street, originally known as the Roosevelt Warehouse.
  • The Factory building at 1907 Michigan Ave., which houses 220 advanced car technology workers.
  • The vacant brass factory building, known as "The Alchemy", at 2051 Rosa Park Blvd. that sits on nearly 3 acres of land, will be demolished, and build a new mixed-use 290,000-square-foot, four-story building, across from The Factory building.[19]
  • Ford also announced plans for two new parking structures, one would be located across from the former Tiger Stadium between Cochran and Harrison streets near Cherry Street, and the other would be built behind the train station.

Ford is also seeking $104 million in tax breaks from the city as part of the $250 million over 34 years through local, state, federal tax incentives that the company has said it will seek to offset the cost of the Corktown project. [20]


The original buildings in Corktown are Federal-style detached homes and rowhouses built by Irish settlers. A worker's row house circa 1840 is located on Sixth Street and is one of the oldest existing structures in the city of Detroit.[3] In later years, modestly sized Victorian townhouses with Italianate, Gothic, and Queen Anne elements were constructed in the district.[4]


Residents are zoned to Detroit Public Schools. Residents are zoned to Owen at Pelham and King High School.[21][22][23]

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit operates the Most Holy Trinity School in Corktown. It is one of the four remaining Catholic grade schools in the city.[24]

Notable residents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "Corktown". 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Greater Corktown Development Corporation". Archived from the original on 2010-12-03. 
  4. ^ a b Corktown Historic District, National Park Service, retrieved 8/6/09
  5. ^ a b c d Armando Delicato, Julie Demery, Detroit's Corktown, Arcadia Publishing, 2007, ISBN 0-7385-5155-4
  6. ^ Hayes, Dennis (May 16, 2006). "Plaza erected in Corktown to honor Irish heritage". Model D. Detroit, Michigan: Issue Media Group. Retrieved October 26, 2017. 
  7. ^ Delicato, Armando; Demery, Julie (October 22, 2007). Detroit's Corktown. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. p. 64. ISBN 0738551554. 
  8. ^ "Construction Underway On New Quicken Loans Technology Center"
  9. ^ Dan Gilbert unveils new Quicken Loans computer center, Detroit Free Press, 30 June 2015
  10. ^ "Detroit PAL to use artificial turf at stadium site". 
  11. ^ "Corktown hotel gets $7.85 million loan to complete renovations". 
  12. ^ "Red Dunn Kitchen opens in Corktown". 
  13. ^ "$150 million Elton Park project breaks ground in Corktown". May 8, 2017. 
  14. ^ "How Ford plans to use its new Corktown digs". Crain's Detroit Business. 2018-01-21. Retrieved 2018-06-19. 
  15. ^ "Ford's future: Train station to be part of new transportation model". Crain's Detroit Business. 2018-06-16. Retrieved 2018-06-19. 
  16. ^ "How Ford plans to resurrect the train station". Detroit News. Retrieved 2018-06-19. 
  17. ^ "A renaissance, new age of mobility moves into Corktown". June 19, 2018. 
  18. ^ "Say goodbye to Michigan Central Station's replacement windows". August 29, 2018. 
  19. ^ "Ford would demolish this vacant Detroit building". June 21, 2018. 
  20. ^ "Ford Motor Co. to spend $740 million on Corktown campus". August 14, 2018. 
  21. ^ "Interactive Map". Greater Corktown Development Corp Retrieved on April 24, 2009.
  22. ^ "Owen MS Attendance Area." Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved on April 24, 2009.
  23. ^ "M. L. King HS Attendance Area." Detroit Public Schools. Retrieved on April 24, 2009.
  24. ^ "Detroit area's Catholic schools shrink, but tradition endures"(Archive). Detroit Free Press. February 1, 2013. Retrieved on September 13, 2014.
  25. ^ "Detroit City Council Biography." Sheila Cockrel. Retrieved on April 25, 2009.

External links[edit]