Reading the Sunday paper – January 4, 2009

I will confess I’ve got one or two things going today and am not sitting down with the whole thing, so feel free to add your own must reads.

The only thing that caught my eye is a syndicated opinion piece on the Detroit abandoned train depot. Here’s a site with several photos.

I will never understand how something this beautiful becomes junk in America.


  1. The Lorax says:

    Sad isn’t it? I’m glad you linked this page, it’s certainly interesting.

    Why does it happen? White flight was responsible for a big part of the decay in Detroit particularly as I understand it.

  2. I spent alot of time in the Detroit area as my father was a GM exec and we got transfered in and out of the area many times. I spent high school living in Birmingham, MI a suburb. We climed this Depot station as it has been abandoned for 50+ years. My grandfather said that they never finished the top floors as WWII broke out. It’s in a terrible area, close to another closed down place in Detroit- Tiger Stadium. Most people don’t realize that Detroit is the oldest of the Great Lakes major cities and also has the most pre-Depression era skyscrapers of any other city. The sad part is the majority of the rest of the city is pretty close to what Beirut looked like in 1985. There are many reasons for Detroit’s downfall. The major factors in order: Auto Industry, Freeways ( first is in Detroit, hence commuting by auto essentially started in Detroit), Riots. After the Riots in the late 60’s, those that could get out left. Then you had Mayor Coleman Young who basically said screw the suburbs; but that’s where all the money was so business never located in the city. This is the admin that actuallly built a wall seperating Ferndale, Mi @ 8 mile road and Detroit. There’s a little background for ya

  3. Detroit has a lot of great buildings, including many by Kahn and both Saarinens, and the Detroit Institute of Arts has an amazing collection. Check out the Fisher Building:

    Steve, I think you have to include ‘urban renewal’ in the list–though it would be fair to connect that with the riots. Acres of buildings were torn down, and nothing replaced them. Downtown Pontiac was decimated; taking the freeway through there was eerie.

  4. Did you mean you climbed the outside of the building?

  5. Building a freeway and dividing a community has been historically used to “put people in their place” by those politicians holding the power.

    It’s a lot like widening Calhoun Road and continuing to study new interchange ramps in Brookfield. I wonder if the results with be the same for this community in 50 years?

  6. The Lorax says:

    Milwaukee owes much to Mayor Norquist for dismantling the Stadium South Freeway and holding the line against more roadways.

    Not surprisingly, the life of cars is not compatible with successful communities. Cindy, you’re right… but i’m not quite sure who is being put in their place by the Calhoun project? I haven’t followed it all to closely.

  7. Calhoun is dividing Brookfield into east and west. East will lose. It’s older, it already incurs the cost of MMSD, it will eventually incur the cost of Lake Michigan water. It’s also being packed with apartments. (I know, water is technically not on the books, but neither is the I-94 ramp and it keeps showing up.) Sooner or later the West will stop wanting to pay for the “one Brookfield” expenses and revolt. Then the eastern, older half of Brookfield will look like the eastern half of Wauwatosa.

  8. Hi Kathryn- actually before the train depot was fenced off about 10 years ago, you used to be able to literally drive into the lobby. It was a huge marble floor room. From there we would climb the staircases to the roof and climb the ladders on the smokestacks. Not too smart, but we were young and bored !

  9. It is on land near freeway access that you see the most development. If it were the opposite the land, where the Park East freeway used to exist, would be a magnet for development in the Milwaukeee area.

  10. Or maybe the eastern half will revolt because the western half is built in a swamp and the infrastructure is too costly. More likely we’ll just get along. Calhoun is hardly a freeway, even in its new-and-improved state. July 4th, we’ll all be there.

  11. Thought maybe you were a Cranie, Steve. I remember people rappelling down the tower over there. Glad you lived to tell the tale!

  12. “Calhoun is hardly a freeway…”

    I bet those now living with said non-freeway in their front yard might argue otherwise.

  13. True, true.