#TBT: The history of Woodward Ave and Michigan Ave

The corner of Michigan and Woodward has changed a lot since Detroit was founded. The small, oddly shaped section of Downtown Detroit is today office buildings and anchor near Campus Martius but it was once city hall and then a park dedicated to President John F. Kennedy.

With Michigan Ave on the north, Woodwardave to the east, and Grisowld Street to the west, One Kennedy Square is a bustling and busy part of the city, as it's been for almost 150 years.

The site was originally home to City Hall. It was built on that spot in 1871 and stood there until 1961 before it was torn down. After the demolition, a small park was in its place, right next to Campus Martius, where President Kennedy had kicked off his presidential campaign in 1960.

After JFK was assassinated in 1963, the small park was redeveloped and named Kennedy Square. That's how we see the picture in this week's Throwback Thursday.

The year was 1966 and pedestrians populated the area in and around the fountain as we look south. With Woodward in the foreground, Fort Street interesect on the left side and Michigan Avenue is visible on the right. Located behind the fountain in the back ground is the Bank of the Commonwealth, located in the Dime Building; right of the Dime is Lawyers Title Insurance Corporation, and on the far right side of the block is the Burton Abstract and Title Company. Other visible businesses include United Shirt, Kinsel Drugs, Manufactures Bank, and People’s Outfitting Company.

In the 1970s, leaks, maintenance costs, and safety issues lead the city to turn off the water to the fountain. Then the fountain fell into disrepair for roughly 30 years. In

In 2005, the prime location was redeveloped into One Kennedy Square, the current home of Ernst and Young and other businesses.

FOX 2 thanks the Detroit Historical Society for providing this and all of our Throwback Thursdays.

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