Archives for December 2014

The Voice of Detroit Neighborhoods: Midtown as a Planned Mixed-Use Neighborhood

As Detroit once again rises and experiences growth, rebirth, and reconstruction in many areas of our City, including the near-completion of the El Moore , we are experiencing how Detroit is attempting to balance the maze of freeways that cut through our neighborhoods and the goal of many neighborhoods to become more walkable and pedestrian-friendly. While Detroit is still "Motown" and a city highly dependent on cars and freeways, the El Moore Community is part of the emerging pattern of neighborhoods in Detroit becoming mixed-use and diversity of income and demographics. The 2.9 square mile Midtown Detroit neighborhood is emerging as a vibrant walkable and bike-friendly area to live, work, and visit. Although the boundaries of Midtown are set by four separate yet linked freeways, … [Read more...]

The Voices of Detroit: Neighborhood Rising Summit

ARISE Detroit! is a coalition of community groups primary focused on improving the neighborhoods of the City of Detroit, including volunteers from the El Moore in Midtown. According to Luther Keith, Executive Director of ARISE Detroit!, the goal of the organization is to unite the entire volunteer efforts of our Detroit community, including nonprofit organizations, churches, schools, businesses, and the media to have a positive impact on the many issues that are causing troubles. There are many worthwhile programs and activities going on at all times; ARISE Detroit! works to bring the various groups and organizations together as part of a larger movement making personal commitments for change in Detroit. Every November, ARISE Detroit! holds its annual "Neighborhood Rising Summit" at the … [Read more...]

Silent Night: the El Moore reflects on its revival

I'm not quite sure why they chose me, but I'm glad they did. After all, I am hardly the only building in the neighborhood in need of some extra care and attention. There are quite a few of us who fall into that category, and over the past few decades those numbers have only grown. And that doesn't include those who have been reduced to rubble. I can still remember those early years just before the turn of the 19th century and for several decades afterward when I was considered something special - we all were - and the people who lived inside my rooms were special as well. There was always so much hustle and bustle. I miss those days quite a bit. Then again, perhaps 'special' is not the word I want to use. Because having a lot of money does not automatically define someone as special, … [Read more...]

A close-up look at Cass Farms

Local history and architecture nerds, rejoice! While doing some web research on A.C. Varney, the original architect of the El Moore (1898), we discovered a remarkably detailed document about the history of our neighborhood that we've never seen before. We thought you might like to have a look, too. The unassumingly titled Historic and Architectural Resources of the Cass Farm Survey Area, Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan is a treasure trove of information about "Cass Farms," more commonly known today as Midtown or the Cass Corridor, the storied Detroit district bounded by Warren to the north, Woodward to the east, MLK Blvd. to the south, and M-10 to the west.   The author of this meaty, "intensive level survey," one Gretchen Griner of local economic development firm … [Read more...]

Want a better Detroit? Build a better Detroit

When asked how long he has been involved with property development in Detroit's Midtown area, Bob Slattery relays a memory from when the native eastsider was a young man growing up in the city. "It's a funny story, my brother took me down here in 1974. He was a year ahead of me in school, and he went to Wayne State. He took me to the Wellington, which was on the corner of Cass and Willis, and he parked me out front and went into the co-op. And I was terrified. I got hurt when I was 16, so I was in a wheelchair. So I was in a car with all these strange people walking by. So five years later I owned the corner." So you could say that's one way to conquer one's fears; simply  buy them out. Because once you own your fears, they aren't quite so scary anymore. And ever since that time, as … [Read more...]

Where Did Everyone Go?

  It has been well publicized. Decades of severe loss of population, an under-performing public school system, an economy heavily dependent on just one industry, abandoned homes, crime out of control (including the infamous title of the nation's murder capital). Yes, I'm referring to Washington D.C. a few decades ago. OK, well, maybe it has not been well-publicized. Detroit is not the only city in transition. Several months ago, I had this concept of writing an article about the misconceptions and misinformation about the City of Detroit: this place that surrounds the El Moore. Internet searches would historically result in images of the El Moore as well as other buildings in various states of disrepair; lost and abandoned. Most of the connected world has seen these images … [Read more...]

What’s In a Name?

Well, apparently, a bit more than we thought. In an earlier post, we introduced readers to Charles W. Moore, the person who, for $24,000, funded the construction of the El Moore apartments in 1898.  After a bit more research, we discovered that there were, in fact, two Charles W. Moores who lived in Detroit during that time and that we were mistaken in connecting the Charles W. Moore who once served as the Director of the Detroit Art Museum with the El Moore project. After doing a little digging at the Detroit Public Library's Burton Historical Collection and on, I think we can safely say we have our man!  Born in New Hampshire in 1845, this Mr. Moore came to Detroit in 1880 to take over the Michigan branch of the New York Life Insurance Company. From city … [Read more...]

Bob Sestok – metal artist neighbor

Before the fresh, exuberant hipness of Midtown, there were the sharp edges of the Cass Corridor. And in the early days of the Cass Corridor, back in the ‘60s and’70s, there was the Cass Corridor Arts Movement, which became an internationally recognized movement. Local artist and native Detroiter Bob Sestok, who still lives in the Cass Corridor/Midtown neighborhood just several blocks from the El Moore, was a leading figure in that movement. From "It is no accident that the Cass Corridor phenomenon occurred during a time when the younger generations were attempting to reinvent politics, culture, and morality in America in a politically charged era that included the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X, the rise of drug guru Timothy … [Read more...]