Word games: Is it Midtown or Cass Corridor? And when?

For the last 10 years, many a longtime Detroiter had joked about the “Midtown” moniker the Cass Corridor has been rebranded with. And they have some good points. The term "Cass Corridor" has traction: It's a parcel of land, with actual, historical boundaries, that was owned by Lewis Cass, and inspired an art movement that bears its name. In comparison, “Midtown” is a slick new label that’s been slapped on a neighborhood to obscure its history and culture, and to chart a very different future for the spunky little neighborhood. Or so goes one side of the argument.

We’ve probed that boundary between what’s considered Cass Corridor and what’s considered Midtown before. That’s when we first brought up the joke, “When they build a condo, they say it happened in a place called Midtown. When there’s a shooting, they say it happened in Cass Corridor!” That double-standard is especially hard to challenge because Midtown doesn’t have any hard and fast physical borders. There’s even talk that Tech Town, Milwaukee Junction, and New Center are part of “Midtown” — at least if there’s any investment involved.

There’s another way of looking at things, one adopted by Google Maps, that the Cass Corridor is simply part of “Midtown,” a designation that runs from the Fisher Freeway up to I-94 (for now). And we might be willing to give credence to that new way of looking at things if more crime were identified as taking place in Midtown. For instance, a few months ago, we saw a news item that described a shooting taking place in Midtown. That wouldn’t have happened in the old days!

This is all introduction to today, when we saw the Detroit Free Press story by Robert Allen and Katrease Stafford about the two EMTs attacked by a knife-wielding homeless man “in the Cass Corridor.”

On Twitter, Patrick Cooper-McCann leaped into action, tweeting:

Robert Allen, one of the story’s authors, followed up:

So, you see, the story finally did mention Midtown, but it’s “that bad part of Midtown called Cass Corridor!”

We’re of two minds on this latest identity crisis. While it’s irritating to see a press reluctant to label a crime as taking place in “Midtown,” the slashing took place in an area that is about as old Cass Co’do’ as you can get, a vacant block that sometimes fills up with people getting help at the nearby shelters and service organizations. If that “hobo jungle” doesn’t have more than its quota of Corridor grit, you can bury us headfirst in an elevator shaft.

Then again, if they planted several high-rises on that block and shooed away the riff-raff, where would that transformative event take place?

We’re guessing the area’s name wouldn’t begin with ‘C’ at all.

About The Author

Michael Jackman

Born in 1969 at Mount Carmel hospital in Detroit, Jackman grew up just 100 yards from the Detroit city line in east Dearborn. Jackman has attended New York University, the School of Visual Arts, Northwestern University and Wayne State University, though he never got a degree. He has worked as a bar back, busboy,...
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