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63 Lafayette Park Articles | Page: | Show All

Freep's Gallagher: A brief history of Black Bottom and I-375

Discussion and debate about whether I-375 should be replaced by a surface boulevard appears to heating up. John Gallagher of the Detroit Free weighs in with this commentary, excerpted here:

Named for the rich dark soil that French explorers first found there, the Black Bottom district in the 1940s and ’50s housed the city’s African-American entrepreneurial class, with dozens of thriving black-owned businesses and the Paradise Valley entertainment zone, where Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie performed.

But the builders of I-75 and I-375 plowed multilane highways right through Hastings Street, the commercial heart of Black Bottom, and projects such as Lafayette Park and the public housing projects to the north destroyed the rest in the name of progress.

Read the entire piece here.

Greenway construction begins on link from RiverWalk to Hamtramck

John Gallagher writes in the Detroit Free Press that "construction is under way on more than 10 miles of greenways that will link the RiverWalk to Eastern Market, Midtown and Hamtramck in about a year’s time."

Nice. We never get tired of hearing updates on the non-motorized trail that cuts up the near East Side.

More from Gallagher:

"The work includes an extension of the popular Dequindre Cut north into Eastern Market, as well as streetscape improvements in the market, work in Midtown and creation of the Hamtramck Connector bike lanes north from the market to that community."

Read the rest of the article here.

What's happening at Detroit Design Festival?

Those of you going to tonight's DDF opening party at the A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education no doubt know the answer to what's up from now until Sunday, Sept. 22, when six days of intense creativity and innovation in design comes to a close.

But not everyone knows. So here is your portal to the happenings for the week, including a design dash, a Mies van der Rohe walk in Lafayette Park, a John Cage show at the College for Creative Studies' Center Galleries, the grand opening of the Untitled Bottega and other super cool events.

Check it all out here.

Link Detroit, extension of Dequindre Cut, set to begin construction

Our friends at Mode Shift Move Together updated a story near and dear to us: the extension of the greenway that currently cuts through the near East Side from the riverfront to Gratiot, just south of Eastern Market.

An excerpt:

To start with, Eastern Market will be getting a major upgrade. The street curbs on Russell Street will be lined up in a consistent manner, and the area will be spruced up with trees and greenery. In addition, new bike parking structures will be installed at the district's main parking lot and at the corner of Russell and Wilkins.

The market will also feature easy access to the Dequindre Cut, a below-street level biking and walking path built on an old railroad line in downtown Detroit, which will be extended as part of the project. Currently, it runs from Woodbridge Street near the Milliken State Park at the riverfront to Gratiot Avenue. The extension will take it a mile north to Mack Avenue. Three bridges spanning the Cut will also be repaired and another taken down.

Read more here.

Surface road to replace I-375? We hope so

The history of I-375, and all it displaced (Detroit's Black Bottom-Paradise Valley, where jazz and blues thrived in the 1940s and 1950s, hosting greats like Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald regularly) is a long, twisted and wicked tale. There is growing talk of filling in the ditch and making it into a surface road. We are happy to hear it. Let's do it right and begin to develop the east side of downtown that does honor to the past and stimulates growth and prosperity for all in the future.

An excerpt:

"As it exists, 375 represents a barrier," said Faye Nelson, president and CEO of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy. "It separates the community east and west of Jefferson. We are really looking to gather with our chief stakeholders to have a conversation on whether this is the right time to evaluate 375, and what is the best approach to take with respect to this issue. Hopefully, we can come up with a solution on whether there will be any changes to the freeway, what they are, how they will be funded."

Sounds cautiously promising. Read more here.

Richard Florida reacts to 7.2 greater downtown study

In a piece last week in Atlantic Cities, Richard Florida tackles the recently released 7.2 study that shows greater downtown to be better educated and more diverse than the city at large. There is much complexity to this finding, such that we plan on following what it all means in a variety of ways in the near future.

Here's an excerpt from Florida's story:

The Greater Downtown corridor has a population of 36,550 people or 5,076 people per square mile. It might not be not downtown Manhattan, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, or Philadelphia, but it compares favorably to other Midwest city-centers, like downtown Minneapolis, with 3.4 square miles and 28,811 people; downtown Pittsburgh at 1.3 square miles and 4,064 people; and downtown Cleveland at 3.2 square miles and 9,523 people. Of these downtowns, only Minneapolis has greater density than Greater Downtown Detroit.

Read more here.

Study: Greater downtown growing in wealth, diversity

A report published today and to be shared with investors, developers and city planners, found that greater downtown residents are wealthier than Detroiters at large, but less affluent than the average for the full populations of cities such as Minneapolis and Pittsburgh, which some see as prime examples of successful urban rebirth.

John Gallagher of the Freep has the scoop. An excerpt:

(Data Driven Detroit's Kurt) Metzger pointed out that things are changing so rapidly in the areas that the report may already be slightly dated. For example, gains from the Live Downtown and Live Midtown incentive programs that have bought hundreds of new residents who work for participating businesses into the area in the last two years are not fully captured in this report.

Read the rest of the story (and the full reporthere.



Modernism with a human face in Lafayette Park

Nice to see the world re-discovering -- or discovering for the first time -- the simple residential charms of the Mies van der Rohe towers and townhomes. Fast Company's Co.Design noticed.

An excerpt:

Nestled in a leafy neighborhood adjacent to downtown, Lafayette Park is a collection of high rises and townhouses designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1962. As Detroit suffered the roller coaster of the 1970s and '80s, the community has remained conspicuously healthy and diverse--a mix of old and young, black and white, professional and creative. In short, it’s a holy grail of 20th-century Modern architecture.

Good stuff. Read on here.

Mies Detroit residential gems subject of new book

Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies, due out at the end of the month on Metropolis Books, gets a sneak preview in the New York Times. Yes, it's an architectural love story set in Lafayette Park; and, yes, as promised, we do have a dandy feature book review this week.

If you missed it, check this out. And another, a little bonus from the Design Observer Group.

Mode Shift links renderings of expanded D-Cut and Midtown Loop

Some of the best news we heard all last week was about the extention of the Dequindre Cut, from Gratiot to Mack Avenue, and the creation of the Midtown Loop, which will take the trail through the heart of Wayne State University and Brush Park. Also in the plans: a connector that will link Eastern Market with Hamtramck.

Pictures tell even a better story. Take a look at these accessed from the Mode Shift Move Together site.

'Urban Futures' provokes discussion in Lafayette Park

If an evening of exploring the role of large scale urban visions in post-industrial cities sounds like your cuppa tea -- as it is for us --- this is your weekend huckleberry.

The panel discussion "Urban Futures" in Lafayette Park will ask some pertinent questions about Detroit Modernism. Some of those questions include: Detroit’s Lafayette Park development has achieved many of the goals of Modernist planning and urban renewal, creating arguably one of the most vibrant and diverse neighborhoods in the city: does this speak to the unique conditions of Detroit? Does Detroit offer similar opportunities for avant-garde planning and large scale urban interventions today? What successes and sacrifices accompany the Modernist social agenda, and are there lessons to be learned as we seek to engage in equitable and sustainable redevelopment here and in other post-industrial cities? 

“Urban Futures" is April 21. Panel Discussion: 6 - 8 p.m. Reception: 8 - 9 p.m. At Lafayette Park Retail, 1565 East Lafayette, Detroit.

Video stars: DetroitUnspun tunes into Data Driven Detroit

The pictures say it all. Well, no: Data Driven Detroit's Kurt Metzger and his charts say it all during episode 11 of DetroitUnspunTV. Plan to spend a good half hour getting an education on proper council re-districting that manages to keep the integrity of neighborhoods intact. Metzger knows his stuff.

Watch the video, commercial free, here.

Visual regards: Freep editor and other Detroiters illustrate city life

A few months ago, the Free Press began asking its readers to share pictures that reflected their experiences in metro Detroit. The project took its cue from "Detroit Revealed: Photographs 2000-2010," an exhibit up through April 29 at the Detroit Institute of Arts that features local and international artists' photos of Detroit and Detroiters.

Editorial Page Editor Stephen Henderson contributed his own family snaps to the slideshow. Check it out here.

Detroit restaurant muralist lived fascinating history

Winged horses, Athenian temples, and color, color everywhere -- those were the trademarks of muralist Nick Kastrantas, whose paintings graced dozens of Detroit's Coney Islands and Greek restaurants. He died Aug. 31 at age 91, a World War II paratrooper who landed at D-Day, a multi-linguist equally adept creating fine art or commercial logos. To the metro area's Greek-American community, he was a celebrated figure, says Leo Stassinopoulos, founder of the Leo's Coney Island chain.

Excerpt:

"He was my hero. He told me all these stories in World War II, with the Germans and all. ... I asked him what he was doing now, and he said 'I'm painting,' and that's when I started doing the murals." The first one was in 1983 or '84; it was followed by about 22 others for Leo's alone.

Learn more about Kastrantas here.

A tribute to Mies, from the Torontoist

History buffs, architecture enthusiasts and savvy Detroiters know that Mies van der Rohe's Lafayette Park complex, built over the remains of Black Bottom, was one of the nation's first successful urban renewal projects (not to mention a pioneering example of modern design). But there's more to the story of Lafayette Park, as evidenced by this lengthy blog from Toronto writer Jamie Bradburn. He posits the development as an urban planning success story -- and an example on how landscapers and architects can help foster community through good design.

Excerpt:

Lafayette Park shows one way urban redevelopment projects could have enticed people to stay in cities rather than spread into the suburbs or made suburban developments more land-effective. The neighborhood demonstrates the role of careful thought during development--as opposed to some Toronto condos where it feels like buying the land to build upon was the only planning consideration. It shows that architectural and landscaping considerations play a large role in whether a planned neighborhood can develop into a community.

The rest of the article is available here.
63 Lafayette Park Articles | Page: | Show All
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