Photo Journal: Shooting Up Detroit - April 2018

I was commissioned to photograph the city that launched modern day transportation. Many of the city's magnificent and iconic landmarks have long-since fallen or been replaced with parks and parking structures. But the remaining ones tie the city's modern renaissance to an industrial era juggernaut.  Some of Detroit's historic superlatives include tallest buildings (Renaissance Center), longest bridges (Ambassador), wealthiest people (Henry Ford), world's first paved highway (Davison) and second-oldest US Catholic church (St. Annes).  It was founded as a French fur trading post in 1701 and was recorded as the fourth largest city in the US by 1920.

Detroit's rich history is evident in its landmark structures. A few represented here...

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Transcending

In 2000 local Detroit artists David Barr and Sergio de Guisti won a design contest created by the Michigan Labor History Society to design and build a monument to Michigan's contribution to the labor movement. The result is 30 tons of steel in the form of two arcs and 14 granite boulders each over 6' high. The sculpture and surrounding plaques commemorate the achievements of the American labor movement including child labor prohibition, free public education and worker pensions and health care.

Not far from the sculptures location in Hart Plaza in Detroit Dr. Martin Luther King first gave his "I Have a Dream" speech on June 20, 1963.

Viewed through the sculpture in this photo are some of downtown Detroit's iconic buildings including The Guardian Building, The Penobscot Building, One Woodward Avenue, One Detroit Center and the First National Building.

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A Station in Life

The tallest railroad station in the world when erected in 1914 the Michigan Central Station has survived multiple owners, failed renovation plans and a resolution by the City Council in 2009 to demolish it. The latter was haulted when a Detroit resident sued the city to stop its demolition...and won.

The Detroit International Bridge Company purchased the building in 1996 and spent $12 million over the next ten years making structural improvements but to no end. Finally, on May 22 of this year (2018) ownership of the building was passed to the Ford Motor Company. Ford plans to use the building as a headquarters for its autonomous vehicle development program.

This photo was taken 19 days before the ownership transfer when it was still standing questionably idle as it had done since Amtrak's last train pulled out of the station 30 years earlier. One of the newest photos of the "old" station.

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Michigan and Trumbull

The ORIGINAL Tiger Stadium, also known as Navin Field and Briggs Stadium, was nicknamed "The Corner" for its famous location at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Avenue. The stadium at Michigan and Trumbull has been demolished but the playing field remains. There is a distinction that while it eventually became known as "Tiger Stadium" it had always been the Tiger's Stadium.

The new Tiger's stadium (being the stadium in which the Detroit Tigers play) is called Comerica Park and is named after Comerica Bank which, while being founded in Detroit, is now headquartered in Texas. The stadium's namesake has nothing to do with its location in the city (it's built on the original site of the Detroit College of Law) and everything to do with Comerica's donation of $66 million for 30-year naming rights.

The image's title is in honor of BOTH Detroit baseball stadiums; the current one residing on this corner of East Adams Avenue and Witherell Streets and the former on "The Corner" of Michigan and Trumbull.

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Shadow Spirit

Spirit of Detroit - Detroit, Michigan

When it was cast in Oslo, Norway in 1958 it was the largest bronze statue created since the Renaissance. The Detroit Historical Society's website describes the statue as "...a large seated human figure..." although when Marshall Fredricks was commissioned to create the piece in 1955 is was intended to represent, among other things, "the spirit of man".

The inscription on the wall behind the statue (included as part of the work) is from 2 Corinthians 3:17: "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty".

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US Ambassador to Canada

When the Ambassador Bridge was completed in 1929 it had the longest central span of any suspension bridge in the world (a title it held for just two years). It is the busiest international crossing in North America; responsible for commuting over 25% of all trade between the US and Canada. Though pedestrian traffic is strictly prohibited since September 2001, runners cross the span every October during the Detroit Free Press marathon.

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M-1 South

Detroit's Main Street, as it is known, was the location of the first mile of concrete-paved roadway in the US. It was platted in 1805 by Judge Augustus Woodward, the street's namesake. In its current form Woodward Avenue runs from Detroit's famous Hart Plaza north to Pontiac, Michigan. It follows the route of the original tribal Saginaw Trail that linked Detroit to Saginaw, MI via Pontiac and Flint and connected to the Mackinaw Trail extending to the tip of Michigan's lower penninsula.

Shot from the center of Woodward at Seldon Street looking south into the city this image is a day-in-the-life photograph of Detroit's main artery.

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The Fist

A monument to boxer Joe Louis. It is either celebrating his defeat of German fighter Max Schmeling in 1938 (Sports Illustrated Magazine commissioned the piece), symbolizing the fight for racial injustice, or both.

Detroit, Statue, Spirit of Detroit, photo

In The Spirit

Spirit of Detroit - Detroit, Michigan

When it was cast in Oslo, Norway in 1958 it was the largest bronze statue created since the Renaissance. The Detroit Historical Society's website describes the statue as "...a large seated human figure..." although when Marshall Fredricks was commissioned to create the piece in 1955 is was intended to represent, among other things, "the spirit of man".

The inscription on the wall behind the statue (included as part of the work) is from 2 Corinthians 3:17: "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty".

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RenCen

Conceived and financed by Henry Ford II and the Ford Motor Company, the Detroit Renaissance Center, or RenCen, has undergone many iterations since its completion in 1977 including the world headquarters for General Motors. Once the Detroit Plaza Hotel, then a Westin, now a Marriott; it is the tallest all-hotel skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere and still the tallest building in the state of Michigan.