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.
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