Cass Corridor’s own Casey Kasem

Remember Casey Kasem? If you do, you’re probably among that group of us who mumbles our age when asked. But whether you actually remember the days of Casey Kasem, or know enough about music history to know the significance of the man who single-handedly revolutionized the music industry with his Top 40 format (some would say for the best, others not so much), perhaps not as many know that Kasem is from Detroit. But not just Detroit. The larger-than-life radio personality, who ruled the airwaves for more than 30 years from 1970 on with a worldwide listenership that at its peak reached nearly 8 million, was raised right here in the Cass Corridor (it definitely was not Midtown at the time). But not just in the Cass Corridor. Casey Kasem’s childhood home was located in the exact spot … [Read more...]

Ralph Rinaldi remembers a Cass Corridor in full dimensions – Part 1

If you closed your eyes and listened to Ralph Rinaldi reminisce about the Cass Corridor that surrounds the El Moore, the way it used to be before Midtown was barely an idea, you would see it at first, then you would hear it and smell it. Then suddenly you’re there, looking around at a very different place in time. It is a countercultural neighborhood, but also exceptionally tolerant. A diverse neighborhood of artists, students and professors as well as junkies, pimps and prostitutes. But there was room for them all, and somehow they made it work… Because that's what neighborhoods do. An Education for the People “I used to go there in the mid '60s and everything was rip snorting around then. The anti war movement was the most popular thing going around, if you wanna call it … [Read more...]

Voices of Detroit: Janet Webster Jones, Owner, Source Booksellers

With all of the recent discussions about the “new” businesses and residents now populating Detroit, often overlooked are the “old” businesses and business people that have been here in Detroit for decades, fighting, striving, surviving, and even thriving against great odds. Some of those odds have very little to do with Detroit per se, but are new national trends, such as the dearth and death of the traditional independent and corporate-owned bookstores due to the explosive growth of online options such as Amazon. But this IS Detroit, and as we all know by now, “Detroit Hustles Harder.” A Detroit business, an independent bookstore, no less, has been here for over twenty-five years, and is still here welcoming both “new” and “old” Detroiters to Midtown, and teaching the youngin’s how it’s … [Read more...]

Fred’s Key Shop: A Detroit Cass Corridor Institution

As a native Detroiter who grew up in the general West Grand Boulevard area near where the 1967 Detroit Rebellion began, I have deep and wonderful memories of those days in my beloved City. I remember all of the little stores and shops on 12th Street (now Rosa Parks Boulevard) and 14th Street and Linwood. Things have definitely changed over the years, and as we welcome the “new” businesses to Cass Corridor area (now called “Midtown”), we must always honor and remember that there were already a lot of businesses in Detroit. These “old school” businesses  usually started right after World War II when the population of Detroit was close to two million residents. The business owners worked hard, thrived, and some of the businesses died, were destroyed in the 1960s and beyond, or just plain … [Read more...]

Podcast: Stories of the El Moore – The Elevator Tower

The decisions leading to the elevator tower being built on the west side of the existing historic El Moore building is probably one of the most challenging design aspect of the entire renovation project.  This podcast shares our design thinking that lead to the eventual design.  It shows how triple bottom-line thinking can lead us to a more holistic design and new possibilities.   The picture shows the elevator tower still under construction; more to come.   Thanks for caring...thanks for listening.  Please share your thoughts with us....we're listening too. … [Read more...]

Who says Cass Corridor had to be saved? Postscript

Change is inevitable, even if it isn't always appreciated. But change in Midtown, celebrated by many as a good thing, can be an even better thing when neighbors work together to bring that change about. And when neighbors realize that it's going to take all of them to make the neighborhood reach its potential. The veterans as well as the new arrivals.  This is the last installment of a very eye-opening discussion about both Midtown and the old Cass Corridor with longtime residents Jim Carney and Bridget Tuohey. "On the other hand, I'm actually glad that there are people who have better expectations about safety and security," said Bridget. "I think that we really cannot err too much on that side. So it's a different wave, and it's a different approach than it was for us. A lot of us … [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...]

Marilyn Sundstrom tells how the North Cass Community Garden grew

When Marilyn Sundstrom was first presented with the idea for a community garden across the street from her home on Second Avenue, she wasn't exactly confident this was something that could work. In fact, let's just say she wasn't confident at all. "It was sort of interesting; Sue Mosey approached me one day - I've known Sue forever- and she said 'Do you think you'd be interested in a garden across the street?' And I said, 'Across the street there?' 'Yeah,' she said. 'Do you have any neighbors you think might be interested?' Because it was a derelict Texaco gas station. The building was still up, but it was nasty, and it had been closed for years. It was never a gas station since I've lived here. It was a taxi place where they stored cabs." So Marilyn talked to one of her neighbors, … [Read more...]