Washington Boulevard Historic District

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Washington Boulevard Historic District
Macomb standing guard over Washington Blvd., Detroit.jpg
Washington Boulevard looking north from Michigan Ave.
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Location Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Coordinates 42°20′22″N83°01′55″W / 42.3394°N 83.0319°W / 42.3394; -83.0319 Coordinates: 42°20′22″N83°01′55″W / 42.3394°N 83.0319°W / 42.3394; -83.0319
Architect Edward H. Bennett
Louis Kamper
Hamilton Anderson Associates
Architectural style City Beautiful
Renaissance Revival
NRHP reference # 82002914 [1]
Added to NRHPJuly 15, 1982

Washington Boulevard Historic District is a multi-block area of downtown Detroit, Michigan. It consists of structures facing Washington Boulevard between State and Clifford Streets. In 1982, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. It includes the Book-Cadillac Hotel, the Book Tower, the Industrial Building, and Detroit City Apartments among other architecturally significant buildings. Washington Boulevard is one of the city's main boulevards and part of Augustus Woodward's 1807-design for the city. Because Woodward's plan was never completed, the boulevard contains a sharp curve south of Michigan Avenue where it was connected to an existing street. [2]

Downtown Detroit Place in Michigan

Downtown Detroit is the central business district and a residential area of the city of Detroit, Michigan, United States. Detroit is the major city in the larger Metro Detroit region. Downtown Detroit is bordered by M-10 to the west, Interstate 75 to the north, I-375 to the east, and the Detroit River to the south. The city's main thoroughfare M-1 links Downtown to Midtown, New Center, and the North End.

Michigan U.S. state in the United States

Michigan is a state in the Great Lakes and Midwestern regions of the United States. The state's name, Michigan, originates from the Ojibwe word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake". With a population of about 10 million, Michigan is the tenth most populous of the 50 United States, with the 11th most extensive total area, and is the largest state by total area east of the Mississippi River. Its capital is Lansing, and its largest city is Detroit. Metro Detroit is among the nation's most populous and largest metropolitan economies.

National Register of Historic Places Federal list of historic sites in the United States

The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) is the United States federal government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance. A property listed in the National Register, or located within a National Register Historic District, may qualify for tax incentives derived from the total value of expenses incurred in preserving the property.


The street was broadened and ornamented in the early part of the 20th century. The development was inspired by the City Beautiful movement and financed by J. Burgess Book Jr. and designed by Louis Kamper. It was to resemble New York's Fifth Avenue and European boulevards. A sculpture lined park between two one-way streets decorated a shopping district and upscale residential neighborhood Edward H. Bennett, a well known master planner, turned Washington Boulevard into a Beaux-Arts streetscape. [3]

Louis Kamper American architect

Louis Kamper was an American architect, active in and around Detroit and Wayne County, Michigan, in the United States.

Fifth Avenue North-south avenue in Manhattan, New York

Fifth Avenue is a major thoroughfare in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. It stretches north from Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village to West 143rd Street in Harlem. It is considered one of the most expensive and elegant streets in the world.

Edward H. Bennett American architect

Edward Herbert Bennett (1874–1954) was an architect and city planner best known for his co-authorship of the 1909 Plan of Chicago.

In the late 1970s, Washington Boulevard was redesigned with an urban pedestrian mall that included new sculptures and an amphitheater. It has since been restored to its original plan.


This list below shows the information on the buildings located along Washington Boulevard. This list starts at the Detroit River (south end), and heads northbound, terminating at Grand Circus Park.

Detroit River river

The Detroit River flows for 24 nautical miles from Lake St. Clair west and south to Lake Erie as a strait in the Great Lakes system and forms part of the border between Canada and the United States. The river divides the metropolitan areas of Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario—an area referred to as Detroit–Windsor. The Ambassador Bridge, the Detroit–Windsor Tunnel, and the Michigan Central Railway Tunnel connect the cities.

AddressBuilding nameBuilding useYear builtArchitectural styleFloorsNotes
West side of streetEast side of street
Detroit River
Civic Center Drive
1 Washington Boulevard Cobo Center Convention center 1960 modern 5Expanded 1989, 2012 (expected completion 2015)
2 Washington Boulevard Crowne Plaza Detroit Downtown Riverfront Hotel1965 Modern 25Stands on the site of Fort Pontchartrain and originally known as the Hotel Pontchartrain; a second tower remains unbuilt
West Larned Street
250 West LarnedDetroit Fire Department HeadquartersGovernment (Fire Department)19295Former Detroit Fire Department headquarters, which relocated in 2013 to the nearby Detroit Public Safety Headquarters in a building that formerly housed the temporary MGM Grand Detroit casino.
243 West Congress Street Marquette Building Government and commercial1905 Chicago school 10Houses offices for the Michigan Secretary of State
West Congress Street
211 West Fort Street 211 West Fort Street Office building1963 Modern 27Constructed as headquarters for Detroit Bank and Trust, later Comerica Bank
West Fort Street
231 West Lafayette Street Theodore Levin United States Courthouse Court House 1934 Art Deco/Art Moderne 10
321 West Lafayette Boulevard Detroit Free Press Building newspaper1924 Art Deco 16Connected via a walkway on the third and fourth floors to the adjacent Detroit Club
West Lafayette Boulevard
1020 Washington Boulevard Holiday Inn Express Detroit - Downtown Hotel1965 Modern 17Stands at the site of "219 Michigan Avenue", one of Detroit's first high-rise skyscrapers.
305 Michigan Avenue Gabriel Richard Building offices1915 Chicago school 10Offices for the Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit
Michigan Avenue
1114 Washington Boulevard Westin Book Cadillac Hotel Hotel1928 Neo-Renaissance 29Reopened in October 2008
State Street
234 State Street Washington Boulevard Building Apartment building 1922 Chicago school 23Constructed as offices and converted to apartments in the 1980s
1234 Washington Boulevard St. Aloysius Catholic Church and Chancery Buildingchurch and office building1924 Romanesque Revival/Gothic Revival 7Offices for the Archdiocese of Detroit
1265 Washington Boulevard Book Tower Offices1926 Academic classicism 40
35 West Grand River Avenue Clark Tower Lofts Apartment building 1922 Chicago school 10
Grand River Avenue
1410 Washington Boulevard Industrial Building Apartments1929 Art Deco/Art Moderne 22Constructed as office and converted into apartments in the 1980s
1420 Washington BoulevardJulian C. Madison BuildingOffices1906 Chicago school 6Home to the Gardner and Schumaker Furniture Store for many years and known as the Gardner-Shumaker Building
1431 Washington Boulevard Detroit City Apartments Apartment building with parking garage1981 Modern 23Constructed as Trolley Plaza Apartments because of the adjacent trolley line
Clifford Street
1514 Washington Boulevard Claridge Apartments Apartment building1906Modern7Constructed as the Michigan State Telephone Building and later renovated into apartments and refaced
1545 Woodward Avenue Himelhoch Apartments Apartment building 1901 Neo-Renaissance 8The structure was originally built as an office and retail building and was later leased to upscale women's department store Himelhoch Brothers from 1923 to 1977
1539 Washington Boulevard Detroit Statler Hotel Hotel (demolished)1915 Georgian architecture, a subset of English Renaissance Revival 18Razed in 2005
1553 Woodward Avenue David Whitney Building Office tower1915 Neo-Renaissance 19 Aloft Hotels branded hotel and apartments
Park Avenue
Grand Circus Park
Westin Book Cadillac Hotel United States historic place

The Westin Book Cadillac Detroit is a historic skyscraper hotel located at 1114 Washington Boulevard in Downtown Detroit, Michigan, within the Washington Boulevard Historic District. Designed in the Neo-Renaissance style, and constructed as the Book-Cadillac, it is part of Westin Hotels and embodies Neo-Classical elements and building sculpture, incorporating brick and limestone. Among its notable features are the sculptures of notable figures from Detroit's history—General Anthony Wayne, Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, Chief Pontiac, and Robert Navarre along the ornate Michigan Avenue façade and copper-covered roof elements. The flagship hotel is 349 ft (106 m) tall with 31 floors, and includes 67 exclusive luxury condominiums and penthouses on the top eight floors. It reopened in October 2008 after completing a $200-million reconstruction project and contains the Roast restaurant and 24 Grille.

Baroque cultural movement, starting around 1600

The Baroque is a highly ornate and often extravagant style of architecture, music, dance, painting, sculpture and other arts that flourished in Europe from the early 17th until the mid-18th century. It followed Renaissance art and Mannerism and preceded the Rococo and Neoclassical styles. It was encouraged by the Catholic Church as a means to counter the simplicity and austerity of Protestant architecture, art and music, though Lutheran Baroque art developed in parts of Europe as well.

Avenue (landscape) straight route with a line of trees or large shrubs running along each side

In landscaping, an avenue, or allée, is traditionally a straight path or road with a line of trees or large shrubs running along each side, which is used, as its Latin source venire indicates, to emphasize the "coming to," or arrival at a landscape or architectural feature. In most cases, the trees planted in an avenue will be all of the same species or cultivar, so as to give uniform appearance along the full length of the avenue.

See also

References and further reading

  1. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
  2. Washington Boulevard Historic District, Detroit Historical Society
  3. Washington Boulevard Historic District, Detroit1701

Eric J. Hill, Ph.D., FAIA, is a Professor of Practice in Architecture at the University of Michigan. He earned his bachelor's degree in Architecture in 1970 from the University of Pennsylvania, a Masters in Architecture from Harvard in 1972, and a Ph.D in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania in 1976. He was a Marshall Research Fellow at Denmark's Royal Academy of Fine Arts from 1972 to 1973. He is the co-author, along with John Gallagher, of AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture. He has served as a Director of Urban Planning and Design at the Detroit firm of Albert Kahn Associates. He has participated in projects such as the promenade on the Detroit International Riverfront, the Detroit Opera House restoration, and the Cadillac Place redevelopment. He has received numerous awards from the American Institute of Architects.

International Standard Book Number Unique numeric book identifier

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.

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Campus Martius Park

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Cadillac Place United States historic place

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Grand Circus Park Historic District United States historic place

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Detroit City Apartments is a high-rise in downtown Detroit, Michigan. Built in 1981 and named Trolley Plaza for nearby Washington Boulevard trolley line, the residential building stands 28 stories tall. The building is located at 1431 Washington Boulevard and occupies the block bordered by Clifford Street, Grand River Avenue and Washington Boulevard. In 2009, Village Green purchased the building and changed the name of the high-rise apartments to Washington Square. In 2013, Washington Square became the Detroit City Apartments.

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East Grand Boulevard Historic District United States historic place

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Grand Circus Park station

Grand Circus Park station is a public transit station in Downtown Detroit, Michigan that services both the Detroit People Mover and the QLine. The station takes its name from the adjacent Grand circus park.

National Register of Historic Places listings in Downtown and Midtown Detroit

This is a list of the National Register of Historic Places listings in Downtown and Midtown Detroit, Michigan. It is intended to be a complete list of the properties and districts on the National Register of Historic Places in Downtown and Midtown neighborhoods in Detroit, Michigan, United States. Latitude and longitude coordinates are provided for many National Register properties and districts; these locations may be seen together in online maps.