The next couple of posts represent a bit of a departure for me but you have to lump the good in with the bad sometimes. I've made a pretty deliberate effort to avoid shooting pictures of the ruins of Detroit because for the most part I don't think it serves a real purpose. People know that there are parts of Detroit that are in disrepair and taking pictures of those areas wont help the situation much. However, when I'm doing a series about a street, it's kind of hard to avoid the ruins. But I feel that the story of this historic street needs to be told.
Also, I don't normally shoot in black and white but given the subject matter of these posts, I figured black and white would be a good departure. After seeing how some of these turned out, I may shoot in black and white more often. There is something about black and white.
Well at any rate, I bring you the beginning of Grand Boulevard.
As early as 1876, the citizens of Detroit were aware of Baron Geroges-Eugene Haussmann to make Paris into a city of beautiful parks, broad streets and grand boulevards. They wanted to make Detroit in a similar fashion by surrounding the city with a "Grand Boulevard". When Belle Isle was transferred from the state to the city (ironic given what's probably going to happen), a legislator put a rider calling for the construction of the route.
In 1891, the idea finally started to come to fruition with the support of then mayor Hazen S. Pingree. At the time it would represent the city limits but the rapid growth of the city in the 20th Century pushed past it. The route was finally completed in 1913 and was considered an attraction to the city as it was lined with trees, shrubbery and flowerbeds.
The streetcar that traveled along it was called the Grand Belt Line. The bus line retained the name "Grand Belt" but it was cut in 2009.
In 1902, the current boathouse was dedicated. The Detroit Boat Club has produced many successful athletes. The clubhouse was abandoned in 1996 and has since fallen into disrepair. There are some efforts to fix the building up but it sounds like it mostly in the planning stages.
Technically this is not the start of Grand Boulevard but it is close enough.
Stay Tuned for Part Two....