Downtown Detroit, 2013

This is one of America’s great architectural treasures, but in a precarious state. Buildings are coming down quickly, many are vacant, and you just never know what will exist tomorrow. Laid out on a unique grid of radiating spokes from Campus Martius Park, the blocks are irregular, with numerous hidden spaces, pocket-sized parks and squares, and unusual buildings. The bulk of the skyline has changed little over the past 60 years, and certain sections are a real window back to the heyday of Detroit in the first half of the 20th century.

A skyscraper straight out of Batman, Louis Kamper's Book Tower

A skyscraper straight out of Batman, Louis Kamper’s Book Tower

Despite Detroit’s 60-year streak of bad luck, declining population, and financial troubles, downtown is one of the success stories. Once derelict buildings are being converted into apartments, there is new construction (although at the expense of some distinguished buildings being torn down), and there is a feeling of cohesion between downtown and the New Center. The bad news continues to be in neighborhoods that have effectively emptied out.

Interior, Guardian Building

Interior, Guardian Building

Downtown skyline from Comerica Park

Downtown skyline from Comerica Park

H.H. Richardson's Bagley Memorial Fountain and John Portman's Renaissance Center

H.H. Richardson’s Bagley Memorial Fountain and John Portman’s Renaissance Center

Capitol Park

Capitol Park

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