11 Most Endangered Historic Places

Historic Buildings of Downtown Detroit

Year Listed: 2005
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Threat: Development, Neglect, Poor Public Policy

Significance

Detroit's urban core boasts a rich array of architectural treasures reflecting its role as a major station on the Underground Railroad, an industrial powerhouse, the world-famous "Motor City," and the home of Motown-but today, many of these treasures are threatened by neglect and a lack of vision. The Statler Hilton Hotel is currently being demolished and the Madison-Lenox, a 2004 11 Most Endangered site, was demolished last month. Belle Isle, once a beautiful park, is now dotted with deteriorating facilities, and the once-grand Park Avenue neighborhood now lies dormant. While individual developers, property owners, and neighborhood groups have forged policies and used available tools to restore some areas, the city administration has been slow to embrace these opportunities and has failed to grasp the lesson that preservation can be a key to revitalization. In fact, a "hit list" recently issued by the city calls for the demolition of more than 100 buildings in preparation for the 2006 Super Bowl. The city is at a crossroads. Detroit's leaders can continue their demolition campaign, or they can work with developers and preservationists to breathe new life into old buildings and save the history of one of America's great cities.