Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Trip Down Grand River Avenue

Eventually it is my plan to travel all of the major roads of Detroit.  So far, I've done Michigan Avenue from Detroit to Chicago, Jefferson Avenue from Monroe to New Baltimore (or Algonac, not quite sure which one), Grand Boulevard.  Since today was a nice enough day, I decided to tackle Grand River Avenue.
 Detroit's roads are on a spoke and hub system.   The spoke that goes towards the northwest is Grand River Avenue.  At one time it was known as US-16, prior to that it was M-16 but now it doesn't really have a highway designation.  For the most part it has been supplanted as a highway by I-96.

Basically it starts fairly close to Comerica Park but it was a one way at that point and it wasn't going in the right direction.  So I kind of had to skirt around it.  This is sort of a view of the beginning.
 One of the buildings along the way is the Book Tower and I've talked about this on this blog before.
 I've also mentioned this building.
 This is almost the point where it starts to head west, but I kind of wanted a picture for the sake of completeness.
 My journey west started at this point.  Immediately to my right is the Grand Army of the Republic Building.  Behind me is the next picture.
 Looking behind me on Grand River is a fairly nice view of the Detroit skyline.  The Book Tower stands fairly prominent.
 The Grand Army of the Republic building is one of the more prominent landmarks on Grand River Avenue.  It was built in 1899 and was restricted to veterans of the Union Army from the Civil War.  By the 1930's, it was abandoned and the city took ownership.   It was standing abandoned for a while but recently it was bought by Mike Ilitch and sold to Mindfield which plans to use it as its headquarters.
 It's a beautiful building and I'm glad it's not going to get bulldozed.
 The next prominent building is the Motor City Casino and Hotel.  It was built in 1999 and is one of three casinos in Detroit.  It was billed as a potential savior to the city but the verdict is still out on that.
 One of many abandoned factories in Detroit.  As a rule, I try not to cover the blight of Detroit on this blog but I make an exception when I'm doing one of these trips.  It's really hard to avoid the abandoned buildings.
 Looking in my rear view mirror at Downtown Detroit.
 And looking back down Grand River.
 Next up was a part of Grand River where a group decided that they could brighten it up with grafitti.  It actually looks kind of cool and I wish them luck.  I hope they can become as recognized as the Heidelburg Project.
 Some other paintings.
 I'm not sure if this is the headquarters, but I liked the grafitti.
 Both an abandoned building and grafitti.
 I kind of liked this painting too.
 As I was taking a picture of this building, someone came out and started talking to me.  He noticed my New York Central hat and asked if I was a railfan.  I said yes.  He mentioned that he was a conductor for Amtrak and now that I think about it, I may have seen him on the Wolverine once or twice.
 Another potential hope for Detroit is urban farming.  I don't think this is a farm thought.  It looks like a community garden, but that is kind of cool.
 Next up was an island of shops.  It kind of had that third world bazaar type feel to it though.  This was a shoe store, but I liked the reflective qualities.
 Looking down the street.
 Another view.  I almost wasn't going to include this, but I liked the reflections on the ceiling.
 I believe this was a church in Redford.
 I'm not quite sure where I was when I took this picture.  But I-96 was almost immediately behind the church.
 Farmington was located on three Native American trails.  One was the Orchard Lake trail (which is probably Orchard Lake Road now).  Another was the Shiawasee Trail and the third was the Grand River Trail (which I suspect is what Grand River Avenue follows).  It was founded in 1824 by Arthur Power who was a Quaker from New York.  Originally it was known as Quakertown but in 1826 it was changed to Farmington after Power's hometown in New York.
 Currently it has a population of a little over 10,000 and looks like a nice little community.
 The Masonic Hall in Farmington.
 There wasn't really much to speak of between Farmington and this point.  There was the strip mall portion of Novi and a few industrial parks but nothing I really wanted to take a picture of.
 Next up was Brighton, Michigan.  It was established in 1832, became a village in 1867 and a city in 1928.  Currently, it has a population of 7,500 roughly.
 Howell, Michigan is also along the Grand River Avenue.  It is the county seat of Livingston County.  This is the Howell Courthouse.
 It's amazing how similar many towns are.  It seems like every town has a memorial to its fallen veterans.  Howell has veterans from most of our nation's wars.
 And then there are some differences.
 Pretty much a standard downtown.
 But I still like these old buildings.
 The First Presbytarian Church of Howell celebrated it 175th Anniversary last year.  It is a pretty cool looking church.
 Across the street is a Carnegie Library.  I've mentioned these on this blog before.
 Next up is Fowlerville, Michigan.  It was founded by Ralph Fowler in 1836.  Originally it was named Cedar but that was changed to Fowlerville in 1853.  In 1871, it became a village.  It's most famous resident was Charlie Gehringer who played for the Detroit Tigers.  Currently it has a population of a little under 3,000.
 This game store caught my eye and I went inside.  They were holding some sort of gaming event and they had a decent selection of games.
 I kind of liked this sign.
 For the most part, Grand River Avenue is the home to many farms.  This one is pretty typical.  What is not typical is the concrete fence around it.
 I think I might have blinked and missed Webberville, so next up in my list of towns was Williamston.  Originally, this was the crossroads of the Grand River and Saginaw Indian trails.  It was first occupied by the Sagniaw tribe of the Chippewa people which used it as a summer village.  They used the area for planting their crops and burying their dead.
 It was first settled by Europeans when Hiram and Joseph Putnam moved up from Jackson, Michigan in 1834.  In 1839, they sold their land to Oswald, James and Horace Williams from New York.  They established a saw mill and grist mill here.  In 1845, it was named Williamstown (but the w was lost to history).  Because the trip from Detroit to Lansing took longer than a day by Horse and Buggy, it was a popular overnight stop for people making that trip.  It became a village in 1871 and a city in 1945.  Currently it has a little under 4,000 people.
 Next up was East Lansing....
 .....which serves as the home of Michigan State University.  I've covered its history on this blog in the past.  I thought this was a pretty neat looking building.
 Next up was Lansing itself.  Lansing serves as the Michigan state capital and was discovered in 1790 by Hugh Heward who was canoeing the Grand River.  It was surveyed as Township 4 North Range 2 West in 1827 but was not offered for sale unti 1830.  In 1835, two brothers from New York plotted the area and named it Biddle City.  It was later named Lansing township because many people came from the New York town of the same name.
 In 1847, Lansing would be named the state capital because it was roughly in the center of the state and because the State Legislature was tired of the bickering.  It beat out Ann Arbor (shocking, I know), Marshall and Jackson to get this honor.  It was shortly named "Town of Michigan" but officially became Lansing in 1848.   Currently it has a population of around 110,000 people.
 A spot where the Grand River crosses Grand River Avenue.
 Originally, the Michigan School for the Blind was in Flint, Michigan.  This site in Lansing was opened in 1880.  This building was closed in 1995 and stands dormant but apparently there is some interest in it.
 Next up is Portland, Michigan.  It has a population of around 4,000 people.  It was founded in 1869.
 One of the truss bridges in Portland.
 And another.  This truss bridge was built by the Groton Bridge Company of New York.  The company was founded in 1877 and survived until the 1920's.  This bridge was built in 1890.  I'm not sure if its like the bridges over the Huron that were brought in by trains but it is still pretty cool.
 Just a random horse.
 A barn.
 Another barn.
Grand River Avenue becomes Cascade Avenue around 10 miles east of Grand Rapids.  Theoretically, I could take that to Fulton Street in Grand Rapids, which in turn becomes Lake Michigan Drive (M-45) until it runs into the Lake.  But it was cool to go to its terminus.

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