The Kern Block in Downtown Detroit

Today it's the Compuware Building but if you've ever looked at it from above, you may notice it seems to take the shape of a pentagon, reminiscent of the Chrysler logo, or the actual Pentagon. And you'd be right.

For 30+ years, the location just north of Campus Martius was green space called the Kern Block. In 1966, the pentagon-shaped greenspace was created in Downtown Detroit as a city park. The problem, however, was nobody really used it much.

From 1966 to 1999, the Kern Block sat mostly empty. It was rarely used because, like many Downtown parks, it lacked trees, monuments, or fountains. All we can tell from the above photo, which was snapped in 1968, was that it had five sidewalks that met in the middle.

The park got its name from Kern’s department store which expanded on the block from 1900 until its closing in 1959 and demolition in 1966. That closure and demolition foreshadowed what would happen to its neighbor, Hudson's, across Gratiot Avenue.

There is some good news in the demolition. The  widely-recognized clock on the exterior of Kern’s was saved and rededicated on the site where it can still be seen today.

So which came first: the Chrysler pentastar or the park? Chrysler. The car company first started using the logo in 1963 and the design may just be a coincidence, because of the shape the streets take around the park.

FOX 2 thanks the Detroit Historical Society for this and all of our Throwback Thursday posts. Click here for more from the Detroit Historical Society.


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