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Center Avenue

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1870–1929. Center Ave. between Madison and Green sts.

In the 1870s Bay City was a lumber boomtown with a citywide housing shortage. Wealthy businessmen needing housing for their families and an opportunity to display their fortunes sought a new area of town in which to build. Platted as a broad east–west thoroughfare linked with the commercial district along the east side of the Saginaw River, Center Avenue proved appealing. The avenue's history is associated closely with the families who pioneered the area's lumber, salt, coal, and sugar beet industries. Its sixty-year continuum of fine architecture includes examples of all the major Victorian and revival styles and illustrates that Bay City weathered the turn-of-the-twentieth-century economic upheaval, when lumber-based industries foundered and a new economy was born.

Writing Credits

Kathryn Bishop Eckert


What's Nearby


Kathryn Bishop Eckert, "Center Avenue", [Bay City, Michigan], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Michigan

Buildings of Michigan, Kathryn Bishop Eckert. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 326-326.

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