Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Schizophrenic Weather Day in Detroit

I had a little time to kill before I would see my ship, so I decided to do a brief wandering around Detroit.  Well at least the area around Comerica Park and Campus Martius.  This is a fairly nice area of Detroit.
 My first stop was the Hazen S. Pingree statue.  He was a fairly influential figure in Detroit history.

He was born in Denmark, Maine in 1840.  At the age of 14, he moved to Saco, Maine where he worked in a cotton factory.  Two years later, he would move to Hopkinton, MA where he worked in shoe factory.

In 1862, he enlisted in the Union Army and served in 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Regiment.  He fought in the Northern Virginia Campaign and the Second Battle of Bull Run.  In 1864, his regiment was ordered to defend Washington D.C.  This lasted until May 15, 1864 when his unit fought in the battles near Fredericksburg.  Later in May, his unit was captured by the Confederates.  He escaped in November of 1864.  His regiment was present at the surrender at Appomattox.  It was mustered out in August of 1865.

Later in the year, he moved to Detroit where he worked as cobbler for the H.P. Baldwin Shoe Company.  In 1866, he was able to buy the company and renamed it the Pingree and Smith Company.  He retired from the company in 1883 and his son took over.  By 1886, it was the second largest shoe company in the United States.  In 1887, the factory caught fire but it was able to be recovered.

He was never a politician until he ran for the Mayor of Detroit in 1889 as a citizen-reformer.  His platform was to expose and end corruption in the city's paving contracts, sewer contracts and school boards.  It's funny how some things never seem to change.  He then turned to fighting privately owned utility monopolies by forming municipally owned utility companies.   His biggest struggle was against the Streetcar Company but was barred from forming a municipally owned company by the State's Constitution.

During the Depression of 1893, he put people back to work by building parks, new schools and public baths.  He also eased famine by allowing people to grow potatoes on vacant lands within the city.  He was also an advocate of a the single tax plan.  He was re-elected in 1891, 1893 and 1895.

In 1897, he set his sites on Lansing and became Michigan's 24th Governor.  During his four years in office, he promoted the regulation of railroad rates, equal taxation and municipal ownership of public untilies.  He also supported many other progressive causes but was blocked by Democrats and business-oriented Republicans.  He expressed the fear of corporate power by saying, "I do not condemn corporations nad rich men, but I would keep them within their proper spheres.  It is not safe to entrust the government of the country to the influence of Wall Street."  Sadly, these words ring true these days.

In 1901, he died in London after being struck with peritonitis.  He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetary in Detroit.  The above statue was made by Rudolph Schwarz.  I don't normally delve into politics on this blog but it's amazing how we keep having to fight the same fights after all of these years.  We really could use a man like Pingree again.
 The David Broderick building stands at 34 stories and was built in 1928.  It's surface is limestone and is an example of neo-classical architecture.  It was originally known as the Eaton Tower after Theodore Eaton who was an importer of dyes and chemicals.  In 1945, it was re-named the David Broderick building after it was bought by the man of the same name.  He was an insurance broker.  It is currently under renovations.
 I believe this is the Whitney Building and is named after David Whitny who made his fortune as a lumber baron.  It is a 19 floor building and was constructed in 1914.  Currently it is under renovation to become a hotel next year.
 I'm not sure what this building was originally known as but currently it is being renovated to become apartments.
 A shot of the People Mover as it goes over Woodward.
 Another shot of the Fyfe Apartments with Hazen staring at it.
 William Cotter Maybury was the man who was elected to office after Pingree left office.  He continued many of the programs that Pingree started and was re-elected 4 times.  He was responsible for creating the Belle Isle Aquarium.  After his last term as Mayor, he returned to private industry.  He died in 1909 and is buried at Elmwood Cemetary.
 The Central United Methodist Church is also located on Woodward next to Comerica Park.  The current church was built in 1866 and has long been known as the Peace and Justic Church.  In 1830, the Sheriff was a member of the Church and decided that he would rather resign than perform a hanging.  Memebers of the church threw a flogging post into the river as part of this and demanded an end to capital punishment.  This was the last execution in Michigan and Michigan would later become the first English speaking territory to abolish the death penalty.
 Another view of the Fyfe Apartments.
 The former Wayne County Building.  It's a shame that this is now another abandoned building in Detroit.  Evidently, it's for sale.
 I'm not sure what this building is called but it reminds me of the Flatiron Building.
 The Soldier's and Sailor's Memorial which is a commemoration to the folks that fought in the Civil War.
 A Civil War Sailor.
 An Artilleryman.
 I kind of liked the way the shadow of the artilleryman hit this tent.
 A cavalryman.
 And an infantryman.
 The Guardian Building.  This is definately one of the neater buildings in Detroit and I'm glad it isn't a member of the abandoned buildings of Detroit club.
 Another shot of the People Mover.
 The Spirit of Detroit Statue.
 The Comerica Tower.
 Looking up at the Comerica Tower.  Actually, I don't think it is called the Comerica Tower as the Comerica Headquarters was moved to Texas (although the bank maintains a large presence in Detroit).
 I'm not sure what building this is.
 I think it is a little too early for Christmas trees but I'd imagine putting up something like this one is a pretty major undertaking.
 Looking at the Ren Cen through the trees.
 As I was leaving Detroit, it started to rain again.  I kind of liked the way it was shining on the pavement.
 Looking down Woodward.
 A little closer to downtown on Woodward.
At the intersection of Grand River and Woodward.  One of these days, I will do the Grand River trip.

No comments: