Driving change : a look at Detroit's oldest neighborhood in the face of the redevelopment of the Michigan Central Station

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2020-05-09

Authors

Lynch, Tess Maura

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Abstract

Detroit’s oldest neighborhood is Corktown, founded in the early 1800s by Irish immigrants. It is also the site of the Michigan Central Station, a once-opulent train station that was often where new Detroiters first arrived in the city, many of whom went on to work in the automotive industry. Following declining usage, the station was abandoned in 1988 and left to fall into disrepair. The station became a symbol for Detroit’s spectacular fall from grace, and for three decades it fell victim to scrappers and became covered in graffiti. In 2018, the Ford Motor Company announced that they had purchased the station and intended to turn it into a new campus for the development of autonomous vehicles. This paper seeks to look at the history of the Corktown neighborhood up to the modern day, tracing its founding by the Irish and its current demographics and prominent culture, as well as the history of the train station itself. This paper also will investigate the concerns and hopes of Corktown stakeholders through a series of interviews conducted in the summer of 2019. These interviews sought to determine what aspects of the redevelopment locals were concerned about, as well as the perceived level of outreach and communication from the city of Detroit and the Ford Motor Company itself. Through these discussions, the aim is to find areas in which the process could be improved and learn about the current strengths of the neighborhood, and what things people do not want to see change as a result of the development.

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