Civic Center/Riverfront

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In 1890 Mayor Hazen S. Pingree (1840–1901) proposed placing a civic center on the Detroit River at the end of Woodward Avenue. Commissioned by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Eliel Saarinen drew up a design in 1924, but lack of funds prevented its execution. After World War II, Saarinen, Saarinen and Associates developed a new plan that included a city-county building, a circular convention hall, an auditorium and music hall, and four government buildings grouped around a landscaped riverfront plaza. Today, Detroit's civic center appears much as Saarinen envisioned, with public buildings arranged around Philip A. Hart Plaza ( WN1). It parallels the Detroit River and extends to the GM Renaissance Center ( WN7) on the east and to the Riverfront Apartments on the west. The plaza is the central point for the even more extensive Riverfront, which links complexes with parks and runs to Belle Isle on the east and to the Ambassador Bridge ( WN45) on the west.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Kathryn Bishop Eckert

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