Detroit's top 10 urban planning blunders (and 10 successes) 

Page 10 of 21

  • Courtesy Walter Reuther Library, Wayne State University

Blunder: Old City Hall demolition
Debates over what to do with Detroit's Old City Hall, completed in 1871, had raged long before Detroit's mayor and common council moved into the new, modernist City-County Building in July 1955. Although many wanted to demolish Old City Hall, Mayor Albert Cobo vowed to preserve it. The building continued to be the "official" seat of government and hosted ceremonial civic functions. After Cobo's sudden death in 1957, Old City Hall's foes could not be stopped, and the wreckers finally came in 1961 after a protracted legal battle. The site was a modest patch of grass and a few ornamental plantings until 1965, when an underground parking garage was built. This was topped by a fountain that developed a leak that city workers could not locate, so it was permanently shut off in 1976. The site remained vacant until the One Kennedy Square building was constructed here in 2005.


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