Sunday, February 27, 2005

St. Josephat Catholic Church

St. Josaphat Catholic Church

Highly visible from I-75, the Victorian-styled St. Josaphat Church has been a staple on East Canfeld and since 1893.

Constructed during the late 1800s for the vastly emerging Polish population within the area, the church was replaced in 1901 with a new church, rectory, and convent - all whih were designed by Detroit architects Joseph Kastler and William E.N. Hunter.

At one point while driving down I-75 southbound, the main spire
of the church lines up perfectly with the tall tower of the Renaissance Center

The church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and proclaimed as a Michigan historic landmark in 1985.

In 2004, Cardinal Adam Maida allowed St. Josaphat's priests to begin performing the Tridentine, a pre-Vatican II mass in which everything is cited in Latin and the priests conduct the mass with their backs to the audience.

The authorization of this rare, traditional Latin mass by Cardinal Maida was a last-ditch effort to save St. Josaphat's, which was in danger of closing. As of today, the beautiful church is still open and is thriving.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Detroit featured in new game by 'Grand Theft Auto' makers

When "Midnight Club Three" debuts on April 12, Detroiters may be surprised to see that scenes from their own backyards are featured in the game.

According to, downtown streets and popular local landmarks like Comerica Park serve as backdrops for the game, which is the newest edition to the Grand Theft Auto series.

Although the Grand Theft's have all been criticized for high levels of violence, states that "Midnight Club Three" is surprisingly non-violent.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

It's Cold, but the Sun Helps

View of Detroit from Belle Isle

Although it was frighteningly cold today, I couldn't help but take a quick jaunt over to Belle Isle to take a few pictures. Enjoy!

A View of Detroit's East Riverfront

The Renaissance Center from Belle Isle

Monday, February 21, 2005

Greektown Casino to Add More Parking

Greektown Casino

Gamblers going to Greektown Casino may have a pleasant surprise in store for them if the casino gets permission to build a new $10 million parking garage within a half-block of the structure.

Greektown Casino, the last of the three Detroit Casinos to be built, has no central parking structure; instead, its spots are scattered in a variety of lots, each a few blocks away. Compared to Motor City and MGM, who each have structures adjacent to their facilities, Greektown gamblers are forced to either park and walk to the building or to valet park, both of which are time-consuming and inconvenient for casino-goers.

Lagging behind Detroit's two other casinos in revenue for 2004, this article in the Detroit News stated that Greektown execs believe that the only way for the casino to stop losing marketshare is to provide more convenient parking for its customers.

If approved, Greektown's developers want to build a 650-space garage at the corners of Beaubien and East Fort. While the parking spaces will only be used for valet services of Greektown, its execs believe that it will drastically shorten the length of time customers wait for their vehicles. In addition, more customers will be able to utilize the casino's valet service.

Greektown currently has 4,550 parking spaces, but they are not all located in the same place.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Opera House Garage Demolition Going Smoothly

On my way into the Detroit Opera House for a dance production last Tuesday night, I noticed that the demolition of the once-hazardous Detroit Opera House Garage appears to be moving along quite nicely.

Don't get me wrong - I am all for preserving those buildings that are preservable. If you had been in the O.H. Garage before its demolition began, though, you and I know both know that this was a structure that could not be saved. The last time I was in it - which was early-December of 2003 - I felt like it might begin crumbling at any moment. Not to mention the fact that the garage's ramps were incredibly narrow and came down so low they seemed as though they would rip off the roof of your car!

Originally named the Hudson's Shoppers' Garage when it was constructed in 1950, the building's usefulness and safety factors have been outdated for a long time. Thanks to the wonderful Dr. David DiChiera, the man behind the Detroit Opera House, the new Detroit Opera House Parking Structure will feature seven levels, and will actually have entrance and corresponding exit points at both John R. Road and Grand River Avenue.

The new structure is set to open in Fall 2005. Until then, I would suggest parking right across the street from the DOH, in the lot to the left of the Madison Building. It is well-lit and reasonably priced (depending on when you are there).

For more information on the parking structure or the Detroit Opera House, please visit:

Saturday, February 19, 2005

8 Mile Rocks on VH-1 Today

The Real 8 Mile Road

As the newest addition to VH-1's clever "Movies that Rock" campaign, 8 Mile - starring the ever-controversial, musical genius, Eminem - will make its network television debut this afternoon.

Having personally seen the movie four or five times, it's hard to believe that I uncover new Detroit nuances and scenery each time I watch it. Remember those picture games you used to play as a kid where you had to pick out the hidden items? That's what it's like for me when I watch
8 Mile. Here is a list of physical places in Detroit that are featured in the movie:

1. Michigan Theater parking structure: The site of the night-time rap battles amongst Rabbit and the evil players in the movie - known as the Leaders of the Free World - this once-beautiful building that used to be the Michigan Theater is located near Grand River and Bagley.

2. Intermezzo Restaurant: The place where Brittany Murphy's character, Alex, waitresses is actually an eatery in Detroit's historic Harmonie Park district.

3. Chin Tiki: The old Polynesian club located on Cass Avenue is featured in the movie as a latenight hangout, although it hasn't been open for 20 years.

4. Penobscot Building: Rabbit's character enters the Detroit architectural wonder on his way to the WJLB studio, which is one of the most popular radiostations in Detroit.

5. St. Andrew's Hall/the Shelter: Although the main rap-battle venue in the movie is called the Shelter, it was actually based on Detroit's St. Andrews Hall (which contains an area called the Shelter) which is located downtown. St. Andrews was once an Irish church, but now serves as a club and concert venue.

The Real St. Andrews Hall, where the Shelter is located

6. New Center Stamping: Called the Detroit Stamping Plant in 8 Mile, New Center Stamping is a metal plant located in Detroit's New Center area at East Milwaukee and Hastings.

7. 19th Hole Penthouse Golf Club: Seen from the bus window as Rabbit goes to work, the 19th Hole is located on Chene between Garfield and Warren. As depicted in the movie, the 19th Hole is abandoned and in shambles.

If you're at all familiar with Detroit, I highly suggest seeing 8 Mile (or viewing it again) and looking for other local items that are discreetly weaved into the entire movie. VH-1 will be showing an encore presentation tonight at 9:00 pm.

Friday, February 18, 2005

New Sequencing Plant Opened in Detroit

Yesterday, Crown Enterprises, Inc., and TDS/US., Inc., opened a new sequencing plant in Detroit.

The new 365,000-square foot facility - which was developed and is owned by Warren-based Crown Enterprises - is located across the street from Detroit-based Chrysler Jefferson North plant.

Operated by TDS/US, the new plant will employ 210 workers, who will assist in the production of 1100 Jeep Cherokees per day.

DaimlerChrysler's Jefferson North Assembly Plant was built in 1991 and produced the first Grand Cherokee in 1992. The plant currently employs more than 2,400 people.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Unique Car Art Set to Display in Detroit and Windsor this Spring

Side view of a CarTunes Sculpture

If you had a chance to visit the North American International Auto Show last month, chances are that you saw many unique and different vehicles, and were also exposed to the automakers' visions for the future.

Surprisingly, my favorite future car wasn't the sleek silver Chrysler concept, or the new H3; instead, I was most drawn to the cute little red car pictured above.

What is this mystery mobile, you ask? It's a CarTune and it and many like it will be popping up all over the landscape of Detroit and Windsor this Spring.

What are CarTunes, exactly? They are seven-foot long pieces of fiberglass that will be molded into cartoonish-looking automobiles. From there, each one will be given to a local artist, who will then design the sculpture in a creative and fun way using the underlying theme of cars and music as the focal point of imagination. We are sure to see some that are representative of the classic Motown sound. Maybe they'll even give some props to the local and always-controversial sons of Detroit, Eminem and Kid Rock.

A CarTune on display at the NAIAS

As we wait in anticipation for the unveiling of the fiberglass masterpieces, here are some firm details about the event:

- Expect about 200 different sculptures on the streets of Windsor and Detroit during the months of May through September

-The unique art display will be the first of its kind for both Detroit and Windsor

-At the end of the public showing period, each CarTune will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Proceeds will be split three ways: one-third will go to the Metro Detroit YMCA or the Windsor Endowment for the Arts (depending on the location of the piece); one-third will go to the artist; and, one-third will go to the buyer's charity of choice

-In addition to raising money for charitable causes, CarTunes was designed to motivate the people of both Detroit and Windsor to explore their own cities, as well as each other's

-Although several other cities have partaken in a similar type of event (Chicago had cows, Toronto had moose) CarTunes on Parade will be the first international event of its kind

For more information on CarTunes on Parade, visit

Monday, February 14, 2005

Touting the Positive Side of the D - Hey, That's What I'm Talkin' 'bout!

This Thursday, Detroit Synergy and the Tourism Economic Development Council will pair up to offer a happy hour event at Detroit's ultra-cool Elysium Lounge.

Designed to increase awareness of the city's public information campaign, "The World is Coming - Get in the Game", the two groups have invited Metro Detroit residents, business people, and community leaders to take part in the post-workday event, which begins at 5 pm.

Free hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar will be available at the get-together, which is located at
625 Shelby Avenue in Detroit.

Detroit Synergy is a non-profit organization that aims to bring Detroit-lovers together to assist in touting its greatness, while using positive promotion to enlighten those who misunderstand it. Hey, that's my kind of organization!

For more information on upcoming meetings, scheduled events and projects of Detroit Synergy, visit

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Detroit's Role in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre

Although the infamous 1929 massacre didn't occur in Detroit (it happened in Chicago), most historians and researchers still believe that a small group of Detroiters were responsible for the seven killings that occurred that day.

Several websites, as well as the book, "The Detroit Almanac", say that Detroit's Purple Gang - the mob organization that ruled the D's streets from 1925 to 1930 - was involved in a highly secretive plan staged by mob lord Al Capone, who wanted fellow mobster George "Bugs" Moran "out of the picture".

According to legend, the scenario was as follows:
At Capone's request, a member of Detroit's Purple Gang contacted Bugs Moran and arranged to deliver some liquor to Moran. The liquor - which was the property of one of Moran's establishments, but had been stolen in route to its destination - was to be delivered to him at a garage located at 2122 North Clark Street in Chicago. Instead of delivering the hooch on that fateful Valentine's Day, however, the contracted members of the Purple Gang illegally acquired a paddy wagon and some police uniforms, and went inside the establishment pretending to be police on a raid. Upon entering the small garage on Clark Street in their officer's garb, the Purple Gang members ordered Bugs' men to face the wall; but, instead of performing a frisk of the alleged wrongdoers, they pulled out machine guns and fired round after round of shots. Just minutes later, all seven men were dead.

Ironically, Capone and the hit members of the Purple Gang later discovered that their target of the event, Bugs Moran, had not been inside the garage. Many speculate that Bugs saw the paddy wagon outside of the dropoff location and immediately headed in the other direction. Capone, who was vacationing in Florida at the time of the massacre, claimed he had no involvement in it. Bugs Moran later lost much of his power within his own gang, the Northsiders, and eventually moved to Ohio. He was later arrested for bank robbery, and died in prison in 1957.

Capone died in 1947 of pneumonia and the aftermath of a stroke, both of which were brought on by syphilis, a disease that took over his body and mind during a seven-year sentence in prison.

Detroit's Purples were suspected as the hitmen in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre, but it was never proven. The Purples fizzled out after its leaders were imprisoned for the Collingwood Massacre, which occurred in Detroit in 1931. The shootout at Collingwood Avenue pitted the Purples against their hometown rivals, the Little Navy Gang.

Thursday, February 10, 2005


WDIV-Channel 4 reported this afternoon that the Detroit Historic District Commission has again denied the request of Olympia Entertainment to raze the historic Madison-Lenox in downtown Detroit.

For more information on the hotel or the information behind the DHDC's protection of the hotel, please see my post from yesterday.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Fate of Historic Hotel to be Decided Upon Tonight

Initially, tonight's meeting between the owner of the Madison-Lenox hotel and the Detroit Historic District Commission was designed to address some unanswered questions that arose last month when the Commission tabled a request by the property's owner to demolish the historic building. In light of an announcement by a Birmingham developer made this morning, though, tonight's hearing is likely to take on a much different turn.

In case you are not familiar with what is going on with the Madison-Lenox, let me step back and give you a brief synopsis:

The Madison-Lenox Hotel is a 105-year old property that was designed by A.C. Varney, an architect that masterminded many of the buildings in the historic Harmonie Park district (most of which have been demolished). Constructed in 1900, the Madison Hotel was joined by the Lenox three years later and, eventually, a two-story dining area was constructed as a connection between the structures. The beautiful French-gothic styled structures served Detroit's rich and famous, as well as out-of-towners for decades, until the cycle of suburbanization, a decreasing city tax base, and blight put the Madison-Lenox out of business in the 1990s.

Sold to a private company - Olympia Entertainment, a subsidiary of Ilitch Holdings - soon after its closure, the original redevelopment plans for the structures indicated that they would be used as office space. If you've driven down Madison Avenue lately, however, you know that the Madison-Lenox hasn't been used for anything, except perhaps as a haven for birds and bugs.

During the latter 1990s, concern about the beautiful historic buildings that had been left to deteriorate quickly mounted on both local and state levels. Although numerous citations were issued to the property owner about the dangerously decaying state of the Madison-Lenox, the notices were continually ignored. As a result, the mid-size double structure has continued to erode. With nearly all of its windows broken and its inherent inability to fend off natural elements, the Madison-Lenox has gone from grand to grotesque.

As Detroit struggles to prepare itself for the 2006 SuperBowl, many people - including Detroit's Economic Growth Corporation - believe that the Madison-Lenox has become nothing but an eyesore. Located in an area of Detroit that has seen an enormous commercial revival in the past five years, the decaying M-L is a reminder of the historic property negligence that many growth-supporters of Detroit want to forget. Their solution? Tear the building down.

The situation is not that simple, though. Although the Madison-Lenox has been under investigation since 2001 under the body's demolition by neglect rules, the structure cannot be torn down by its owner without the approval of the Detroit Historic District Commission, the same organization that tabled the demolition request back in January. According to the fabulous website of The Friends of the Book-Cadillac Hotel, a group of Detroiters that saved the famous BC from demolition in 2003, the current owner of the Madison-Lenox has no solid information to back its request for demolition. In fact, the website has a number of items available in .pdf format - such as a 2003 environmental feasibility study whose findings indicated that the structure can be soundly redeveloped - that counter the financial, economical, and social constraints that Olympia Entertainment has relied on to back its demolition request. Adding further strength to the anti-demolition arsenal is the fact that the Madison-Lenox was added to the National Trust for Historic Preservation last year, a label that surely strengthened its barricade against demolition.

Until this morning, however, the fate of the M-L was frighteningly unknown. The struggle - which pitted the preservationists against the capitalists - could have gone either way, especially considering that no alternative buyer had entered the picture.

But then, like an 11th hour bargaining moment, the tides quickly turned: a developer in Metro Detroit came forward, announcing a $24 million redevelopment initiative for the structure.

According to The Detroit News, Kathy Sinclair of Bimingham's Downtown Development Co. proposed a $24 million infill development of the structure that would keep the facade details and original architecture intact while renovating and restoring the entire property. Sinclair provided an artist's rendition, which is viewable on the site of the article noted above, and noted that the hotel would be turned into condominium units and a 40-room hotel.

With this new development, it will be very interesting to see what the decision of the DHDC will be tonight.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Old Newsboys' Goodfellow Fund Ensures There Is 'No Kiddies Without a Christmas'

For 90 years, the Old Newsboys' Goodfellow Fund of Detroit has worked painstakingly hard to maintain and live up to the organization's sole purpose: 'No Kiddie Without a Christmas'. And, according to a press release that came out this morning, it appears that they have done it again.

Yes, that's right. This valiant and giving organization announced today that by meeting its 2004 goal of $1.7 million, it was able to provide 40,000 Christmas packages to underprivileged boys and girls throughout the cities of Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck.

In addition to the Christmas packages, which contained items such as warm clothing, underwear, socks, books and art supplies, Detroit's Old Newsboys' Goodfellows also gave 14,000 dolls to each of its girl recipients, aged 7-10.

Along with its large Christmas donations, the non-profit organization also provides essential services to the needy children of Detroit throughout the entire year, such as emergency dental care and a shoe-donation program, which is facilitated in conjunction with Mr. Alan's. The organization, which was founded 1914 by James J. Brady, also provides seven Wayne State University scholarships each year to graduates of the Detroit Public School System.

Donations to the Detroit Old Newsboys' Goodfellow Fund are tax-deductible and accepted year-round. To make a donation, please click here. The organization kicks off its fundraising efforts every year on the Monday after Thanksgiving with its annual parade, when its members march down the streets and then disperse across the city selling special editions of The Detroit News, which can be purchased with any donation amount.

According to its website, the Detroit Old Newsboys' Goodfellow Fund is the original, as well as the oldest organization of its kind. It is not affiliated with any other Goodfellow group.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Celebrate Black History Through Dance

For six days next week, some of the most talented contemporary dance companies in the United States will be performing at the Detroit Opera Theater to honor African American contemporary dance.

The performances begin on Tuesday, February 15, at 7:30 pm with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, an organization that will pay homage to the late Sir Warren Spears, an international choreographer who was born and raised in Detroit. Dayton will perform four works on Tuesday, and will do a repeat performance on Wednesday night.

On Thursday and Friday nights, February 17 and 18, The Philadelphia Dance Company - founded in 1970 - will grace Detroit Opera House's stage with five pieces, ranging from the all-male, "Blue", to the all-female "Gatekeepers". The Thursday night show begins at 7:30 pm and the Friday night show begins at 8:00 pm.

The final two shows, courtesy of Alonzo King's LINES ballet, are scheduled for the evening of Saturday, February 19, at 8:00 pm and the afternoon of Sunday, February 20, at 2:00 pm. The San Francisco-based LINES company is world-renowned for its modern, sophisticated and contemporary styles.

Tickets for any of the shows are available through

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Detroit "Zips" to Top of SE MI Home Appreciation List

Think Detroit home values are in the dumps? Think again.

Yesterday, the Detroit Free Press reported on the rapidly increasing home valuations in certain Detroit zip codes, with some areas rising as much as 43% since 1999.

The 48227, 48223, 48235 and 48219 zip codes ranked fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth, respectively, in a Top Ten list of Southeast Michigan's most-rapidly appreciating homes according to a recent report by the real estate firm Fiserv, Case Schiller Weiss. The company, based in Massachusetts, provides home price valuations to many leading financial institutions through its extensive database technology and collected research in the area of real estate and home valuations.

Click here for the complete Top Ten list of cities, as well as each city's respective home appreciation percentage increase since 1999.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Detroit Hockey Fans Can Get a Small Fix This Weekend

The NHL and its players haven't solved their salary-cap woes yet, but Detroiters suffering from a hockey-less season have two small treats in store for them this weekend.

Local news stations have been abuzz with excitement since the announcement came from three Red Wings - Hatcher, Chelios, and Draper - that they would be joining Detroit's Minor League Hockey Team, the Motor City Mechanics, for an undisclosed number of games. Although it still has not been determined whether Draper can play tonight due to contract issues, Chelios and Hatcher will be on the ice. The first game is tonight at The Garage in Fraser.

In addition to finally being able to see some of The Wings' players on the ice, The Joe will host the state's oldest college rivals - the University of Michigan and Michigan State - tomorrow night, offering yet another opportunity for Detroiters to get their hockey fixes. The rivals will battle it out at 7:30 pm. Tickets are between $10-28.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Celebrate Black History Month in Detroit

Today marks the beginning of Black History Month, a nationwide celebration commerating historic black leaders and reflecting upon black culture and its history in the United States.

According to, Black History Month began not as a month but, actually, as the second week in February. Originally termed Negro History Week by its creator - prominent black scholar Carter G. Woodson - in 1926, Woodson chose the second week of the second month of the year to celebrate black history because of two significant dates related to black freedom: the birthday of President Abraham Lincoln on the 12th, and the birthday of abolitionist Frederick Douglass on the 14th.

Designed to educate both blacks and whites about historic black figures and the black culture, the week-long event was eventually expanded to include the entire month of February, a decision that is reflective of more important dates in black history, including:

-The first Woolworth sit-in demonstration by black students in North Carolina (Feb. 1, 1960)
-Birth of poet Langston Hughes (Feb 1, 1902)
-Birth of Rosa Parks (Feb 4, 1913)
-Founding of the NAACP (Feb. 9, 1909)
-Nelson Mandela Released from 27-year prison sentence (Feb 11, 1990)
-Abraham Lincoln's birthdate (Feb. 12, 1809)
-Frederick Douglass' birthdate (Feb. 14, 1817)
-Assassination of Malcolm X (Feb. 21, 1965)
-Ordainment of Martin Luther King, Jr., as Baptist minister (Feb. 25, 1948)
-First female African American lawyer graduates from Harvard Law School (Feb. 27, 1872)

This article from the January 28, 2005, online edition of the Free Press includes a variety of Black History Month events in and around Metro Detroit during the month of February. Take some time to enjoy an appreciate the struggles and triumphs of African Americans in America's history.