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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think that Detroit is one of the most architecturally significant yet often overlooked cities in the United States. In the 1920's, the top 3 cities in the U.S. were New York, Chicago and then Detroit and the building boom during that time reflects this. Unfortunately, now upwards of 50% of office space downtown is vacant and much of the architecture from that time is being razed and demolished. This thread shows just a few of the older buildings (mostly designed by renowned architect Albert Kahn) from that time - many of which are vacant now....what does everyone think (good or bad)



Originally intended to be the northern anchor of Detroit's greater downtown, the New Center area is situated about 3 miles north of downtown and is the ex-home of General Motors



The ex-GM headquarters...when first built in the 1920's, it was the 2nd largest office building in the world.



The original plans for the Fisher Building called for 2 28-story towers flanking a larger 60 story tower that would have rivaled the Empire State building in height and grandeur. Due to the Depression, only one of the smaller towers was built



Once one of the grandest hotels in the country, it is now vacant



This is one of my favorite buildings in Detroit. It is often criticized architecturally for having too many contrasting details but I like it...



This building is occupied now but has a very high vacancy rate and is in danger of going into disrepair..



A very unique building, it is constructed in an S shape to match the footprint of the city block it sits on...



Another abandoned hotel in danger of being demolished...



The old headquarters of the Detroit Free Press, it reminds me of a building out of Gotham City - it is vacant and abandoned now...



Once a first class retail district, most of the buildings in this photo are vacant now...
 

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Personally I think these buildings are extremely beautifull. Eventhough you say most of them are vacant, I would never notice that. They all look like someone's taking care of. It would be a shame to demolish any of these!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
To clarify, the Fisher Building, Cadillac Building (ex GM HQ), Book Tower (5th and 6th pics) and the First National Bank Building (S-shaped building) are NOT completely vacant. However, there are most of the others and many more that are. Some of this can be attributed to the race riots in the 60's when many people fled downtown. Also, the decline of the US auto industry and the fact that many people are just plain scared of Detroit now. It is a real shame because many amazing buildings have already been razed for parking lots (or in many cases, just empty lots). Just last week, a building in a nationally designated historic district downtown (and also on the National Trust's 11 most endangered buildings in America) was illegally and secretly demolished by the city despite a ruling against it by the Historic District Commission. When an emergency injunction stopping demolition was presented, the building was already too far gone to save. The plan for the site now is a surface parking lot....
 

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Detroit should be up there with Chicago and NYC. Those deco towers are incredible and Detroit has quite the collection from that period. Louis Kahn was from Philadelphia.

Detroit's history is mostly overlooked by its city leaders. I mean how can the historic preservation commitee live with themselves? By knocking down old deco classics it lessens Detroit's value as an architectural tourism mecca. The city claims to have no money yet seems to fork it out for demolition.

It is unfortunate that Detroit fell on hard times but c,mon arent there enough vacant lots to work with? Detroit's glorious architecture was the result of a booming wealth unseen before. Sadly many of Detroit's architectural features were looted and lifted and now they can be found anywhere from suburban Connecticut gardens to Chicago highrise lobbies.

Anyway it would be exciting see Detroit put an end to the madness and surprise us all by becoming great once more.
 

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"Some of this can be attributed to the race riots in the 60's when many people fled downtown."

Every big city had terrible riots in the 60's why is it that Detroit was the one city not to bounce back? LA had riots more recenly and has recovered quite nicely. Why are the white folk in Detroit such wimps? What are they afraid of? Highways are way more dangerous than the most crime ridden part of any US city yet the fear mongers don't think twice about being mobile. I blame Detroit's demise on fear expressed by coddled cushy suburbanites and for being a "one" industry town. Mixed industry is always more comforting. Also the psychology of living beyong 7-mile road doesn't help. That moat needs to go.
 

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The second biggest tourist destination in the state of Illinois (after Chicago) is charming Galena, in the n.w. corner of the state. Galena is a gem, a throw back to another era. An old mining time, it went into decline about 1850 when the mines dried up.

Virtually no new building was built in the city's core. During the late 1950's the town was rediscovered by artists and became a center for antiquing. The beautiful city, frozen in time, became a historical gem that drew people from Chicago and Illinois and other midwestern regions. Speciality shopping, more artists, restaurants, resorts enhanced the area. Galena priceless.

So, what does this have to do with Detroit? We rightfully lament the decline the city experienced. Part of that decline kept a tremous numbers of quality, older building, loaded with craftsmenship still standing. How ironic. The very lack of value of the land under these quality older structures saved them from being torn down the way that similiar buildings have been torn down in other cities.

The possible result? A Detroit renaissance will be able to offer a special environment that could not be found in other places.
 

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Very nice pictures. It's a shame that these beautiful buildings have to be torn down. Too bad you can't pick up buildings and take them somewhere else. Im sure any city would love to have some of those buildings.
 

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antonyj11 said:
I think that Detroit is one of the most architecturally significant yet often overlooked cities in the United States. In the 1920's, the top 3 cities in the U.S. were New York, Chicago and then Detroit and the building boom during that time reflects this.

Great old buildings but I think you forgot about Philadelphia back in 1920, nearly twice the size of Detroit. It is sad to see a city with great history fall on such hard times.
 

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sad man. i hope they save 'em. there's other buildings i've seen pics of from detroit that are sadly vacant, like an old train station.

thankfully here in birmingham, we're getting more loft conversions of our old, vacant towers. city federal, 27 stories and built in 1913, just started rehab work, and now has lights on at night for the first time in 8 years. the cabana hotel, 20 stories and built in 1919, is pending conversion to lofts.

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