Profile of Historic Detroit Landmarks and Buildings
Detroit’s rich history is reflected in its landmarks and buildings. While some of the city’s historic buildings are preserved only in photos, memories or deteriorating limbo, others remain, illustrating the history and legacy of “The Motor City.”
The 18-story train station, Michigan Central Depot, was designed in part by the architects who designed New York’s Grand Central Station. These days, it sits abandoned two miles southwest of downtown. While plans have been proposed over the years to save the building and put it to use, no plans have come to fruition.
2. John K. King Used and Rare Books Building
After operating for years out of storefronts in Dearborn and Detroit, John K. King bought the Advance Glove factory building in 1983 at the western edge of downtown Detroit. King wrote his name in big bold letters across the four-story building’s façade and filled all four floors of the former factory with books. Eventually the volume of books outgrew even the former factory, literally overflowing into the adjacent Otis Elevator Building. And it didn’t stop there; King now has multiple stores in the Detroit Metro Area, as well as a virtual storefront on the Internet.
3. GM Renaissance Center
The GM Renaissance Center, or the “RenCen” as it is known by Detroiters, is a group of seven skyscrapers built in the 1970s and 80s. Conceived by Henry Ford II and financed in large part by Ford Motor Company, the RenCen was built in an effort to revitalize Detroit after the turbulent 1960s. Big enough to rate its own zip code, the RenCen consists of a central, circular tower surrounded by four 39-story towers. Two additional towers were added in 1981 in the second phase of the project. In an ironic twist of ownership, the RenCen was purchased by General Motors in 1996 for use as its global headquarters.
Considered the symbol of Detroit, the 26-foot statue sculpted by Marshall Fredericks in the 1950s depicts a seated man holding a sphere in one hand and a family group in the other. Located by the City-County Building at the base of Woodward Avenue, the statue’s plaque reads, “Through the spirit of man is manifested in the family, the noblest human relationship.”
5. Comerica Park9
Comerica Park is the successor to Tiger Stadium as home to Tigers baseball. Taking over from a legend is never easy, but Comerica’s brick exterior, sunken field, architectural finesse and view of the Detroit skyline eventually won over most Detroiters. The stadium also hosted the 2005 All-Star Game and served as a concert venue for Bruce Springsteen and The E-Street Band, The Rolling Stones and The Dave Matthews Band.
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