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Old 09-21-2012, 10:53 PM
 
Location: Macao
12,296 posts, read 18,120,028 times
Reputation: 5959
Quote:
Originally Posted by alleghenyangel View Post
Hamtramck is such a strange place. I remember going out to a club there once. The town seemed so dead and boarded up, but the club itself was beautiful, and there was a cute diner across the street. Hamtramck has so much potential. Why haven't the gentrifiers moved in?
Yeah, Hamtramck certainly seems on the decline. It does seem that downtown and midtown Detroit are attracting some gentrifiers. It sems like that's the first step anyways, to make Detroit somewhat liveable and interesting, otherwise no real reason to gentrify Hamtramck. But Hamtramck has such an interesting Polish heritage with so many Polish shops and such, it would be unfortunate for it to just fall apart and lose that.

Another area of Detroit that really struck me recently is Mexicantown. I'd never been there until recently, but it's really thriving with commercial areas, mexican restaurants, and a ton of people walking around their streets. Granted, it's predominately Mexican, but as its practically right across a bridge from Canada, I have noticed that Windsor people (as far as white people being around), seem to take advantage of it's vicinity and enjoy some great Mexican restaurants there.

Mexicantown, Detroit....seems to be one of those places that no one in Michigan even knows exists. I looked at a demographics map, and the Mexican population seems to be spreading out in that Mexicantown area, which would really revolutionize a part of the city into something besides dilipatation. I'm routinely surprised at how little recognition it gets, or even an awareness of it's existance at all.

I have routinely thought, however, that Windsor certainly gets the best of Detroit. One bridge right into downtown, and another bridge into what is now becoming a somewhat vibrant Mexicantown. They really don't see all the dilipitation that most MI people see as they head directly to downtown for a ballgame or whatnot.
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:00 AM
 
Location: Michigan
2,937 posts, read 2,382,965 times
Reputation: 2119
Quote:
Originally Posted by alleghenyangel View Post
Great post, Animatedmartian.

When I think of urban, I think of places with proper downtowns, conventional business districts, older or historic buildings and homes, sidewalks and walkability. From the pictures you've shown, Flint, Ann Arbor, Pontiac, etc. look relatively urban. Royal Oak looks more like a small town or streetcar suburb, but still has the urban character such as walkability, convential downtown, etc. I've been to Flint and Ann Arbor and they are definitely real cities and not just sprawl.

I was trying to figure out which of Detroit's outlying towns and suburbs we should consider as independent major cities of Michigan, and which should be defined as the suburbs of a larger city (in this case, Detroit). When I think of sprawl, I think of places like Novi, and not necessarily streetcar suburbs.
Yea, Novi would be sprawl. Actually, the easy way to notice is if the city limits are square in anyway. Because of the township thing and annexation laws, townships in Metro Detroit often incorporated in order to prevent the then villages and (independent?) cities from gobbling up all the tax revenue.

For example, Pontiac has squiqqly city limits. Pontiac, MI - Google Maps While Aurburn Hills (formerly Pontiac Township), is an L shape since it was the left over township that Pontiac never got to annex. Auburn Hills, MI - Google Maps

Is that what you might mean as independent cities? Because other than that, it just really varies on what you define as an historical city, I guess.
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Old 09-22-2012, 03:31 AM
 
Location: Sault Ste. Marie, MI
259 posts, read 196,978 times
Reputation: 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by animatedmartian View Post
Define 'urban'.

Rochester, Mt. Clemons, Utica, Birmingham, Clawson, Royal Oak, Dearborn (which used to be two separate cities), Hamtramck, Plymouth, Northville, Farmington (not hills), Wayne, Inkster, Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Park, and Trenton all used to be independent cities (and legally still are) and have downtown business district (although most are nothing more than 2 strips of city blocks with street lining businesses).

They're urban if you think of them as streetcar suburbs. But there's definitely a lot of grey area as I'll attempt to show.

On the one hand, here's what Pontiac looked like in the 1920s and 30s.

WSU Virtual Motor City Collection (Detroit News):*9063*9063

WSU Virtual Motor City Collection (Detroit News):*9064*9064

But then this is what Royal Oak looked like around the same time.

WSU Virtual Motor City Collection (Detroit News):*9085*9085

And Birmingham.

WSU Virtual Motor City Collection (Detroit News):*21185*21185

And Ann Arbor.

WSU Virtual Motor City Collection (Detroit News):*350*350

And Flint.

WSU Virtual Motor City Collection (Detroit News):*8956*8956

Yet pretty soon, all of these cites will be connected by sprawl in between them. Flint and Ann Arbor are both only an hour away from Detroit and it'll probably be 20 or something years before there's continuous development between either cities (there's already a debate on whether Ann Arbor is apart of Detroit). All of these cities have a lot in common at around the same time period; for instance each city is sprawling out from its downtown area and has at least one building over 5 stories. How can you tell if people are commuting to Detroit or working within the suburban downtowns? Obviously, Flint and Ann Arbor will less likely have had commuters to Detroit, but if Metro Detroit keeps on spreading, it might become more common.

Then of course, cities like Troy, Warren, and Southfield are major business centers, but have no proper downtowns, and have populations higher than most of Michigan's other cities. They also upset the whole commuting flow of the metro but you can't really consider them in the same category as the cities above, right?
Is having buildings over 5+ stories an important indicator of urbanness? Because Sault Ste. Marie has a few of those:


downtown 2 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


The Ojibwe II | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


The Tower of History III | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
(The Tower of History is kind of a strange case, but it sure is tall!)


Sault Ste. Marie, MI | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

We also have um, this gritty alley! Doesn't it just scream urban? :-p

Soo Alley | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
(I always thought it had a kind of weird charm.)


Downtown Sault Ste. Marie 2 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

I also feel like having all those high rise condos visible across the river in Soo Ontario makes Soo Michigan feel bigger then it actually is...

015 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

So yeah, if there is an "Urban small town" category, I feel like Sault Ste. Marie should qualify! :-p
Other then that, the only Michigan cities I've spent any amount of time in the downtown areas of are Kalamazoo and Ann Arbor... it seems like I've been to Pontiac a bunch of times, but never downtown. I've only ridden the bus through Battle Creek and Lansing (though just from that I could tell they both have their fair share of tall buildings), been driven through Detroit (not anywhere near downtown, unfortunately.) and dropped off at the bus station in Flint.
I love Kalamazoo and it's downtown, but it seems weirdly lacking in tall buildings compared to other cities in it's weight class, I feel. There was the 5/3rd building, the Radison, and um? I'm probably just forgetting some. (Why didn't I take pictures of downtown Kz when I had the chance?)
I found Ann Arbor to be suitably impressive. Their hospital reminded me of pictures of Casino resorts in Las Vegas!


158 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
( I didn't know what this is, but it was big so I took a picture! Maybe an apartment building?)
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Old 09-22-2012, 03:54 AM
 
Location: Macao
12,296 posts, read 18,120,028 times
Reputation: 5959
Lovely photos!!

Sault Ste. Marie is looking good too! Interesting Ann Arbor photo at the bottom, wonder if it's mostly university students living there. Looks interesting.

Pontiac. I was recently there for the Woodward Cruise on Woodward Avenue. Pontiac didn't look good at all. Just seemed like a lot of recent abandonment and recent boarding up houses. It looked very rough too, like it was recently declining rapidly, and in for some hard times ahead. (Whereas when I've driven around Detroit, it seems like it's already hit bottom, and a bit more interesting seeing some well-intentioned folks wanting to move in and make it better).
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Old 09-22-2012, 04:15 AM
 
Location: Sault Ste. Marie, MI
259 posts, read 196,978 times
Reputation: 345
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiger Beer View Post
Lovely photos!!

Sault Ste. Marie is looking good too! Interesting Ann Arbor photo at the bottom, wonder if it's mostly university students living there. Looks interesting.

Pontiac. I was recently there for the Woodward Cruise on Woodward Avenue. Pontiac didn't look good at all. Just seemed like a lot of recent abandonment and recent boarding up houses. It looked very rough too, like it was recently declining rapidly, and in for some hard times ahead. (Whereas when I've driven around Detroit, it seems like it's already hit bottom, and a bit more interesting seeing some well-intentioned folks wanting to move in and make it better).
Thanks!
Sault Ste. Marie is home to a lot of old and historic buildings that aren't widely appreciated I feel, even by a lot of people who live here.

Downtown | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


P9280047 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


Downtown Sault Ste. Marie 11 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
(The advertisements painted on the building here are from the 1920s!)


City Hall | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


Downtown Sault Ste. Marie 5 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!


Edison Sault Electric Hydro Plant 6 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

It makes me sad to hear about what's going on in Pontiac... most of my family is either from Waterford and born in Pontiac, or straight up from Pontiac (I'm the odd one out being born in Southfield. Sault Ste. Marie since age five though!) I feel like it's like the ancestral hometown or something! I remember coming downstate to visit my dad down in his Pontiac house every summer when I was a kid... now nobody will even take me to the downtown there when I'm in Waterford visiting. (err I don't have my own car... makes urban exploration difficult :-p) I've looked at it on google maps a few times, looks like there are some interesting buildings, like the Oakland town center. Hopefully things will start to turn around in Pontiac.
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Old 09-23-2012, 07:00 PM
 
Location: Lansing Metro
2,686 posts, read 2,752,077 times
Reputation: 3359
While we're on the subject, there are a couple of interesting projects happening in Lansing right now. It will be interesting to see how these turn out:

Knapp's building redevelopment:
http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/a...t-taking-shape



Davenport University downtown expansion:
Davenport University planning $10 million expansion into downtown Lansing | MLive.com

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Old 09-24-2012, 07:45 PM
 
Location: City of McKeesport
3,891 posts, read 3,699,375 times
Reputation: 2345
It's about time Lansing is getting around to renovating the Knapp's building. That should have happened eons ago.
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Old 09-25-2012, 07:56 AM
 
Location: Lansing Metro
2,686 posts, read 2,752,077 times
Reputation: 3359
Quote:
Originally Posted by alleghenyangel View Post
It's about time Lansing is getting around to renovating the Knapp's building. That should have happened eons ago.
Oh, and I forgot about this project. This will be huge for Lansing if it comes to fruition. This would be the start of making Lansing more attractive to the MSU community. I think the Michigan avenue corridor from East Lansing to Lansing has a lot of potential. Hopefully this will be the start of blending the two cities together more in that area.

City officials select plan to redevelop former Lansing golf course, would require selling more land to developer | MLive.com
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Old 09-25-2012, 08:34 AM
 
Location: NW Lower Michigan=Heaven!
3,839 posts, read 4,690,754 times
Reputation: 3035
I have seen a lot going on Lansing way recently. Seems like construction is everywhere.
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Old 09-25-2012, 12:45 PM
 
2 posts, read 1,266 times
Reputation: 10
Smile Lansing

Though I am bias as a Spartan, I think that Lansing has a lot of potential and is certainly on the cultural upswing. There are many respected IT companies sprouting up in the area and economically the quality of jobs is better than most other parts of Michigan. Places like Washington Square and Old Town have many different quality restaurants and activities happening throughout the month for all ages. Festival of the Sun and Moon are always a blast! The River Trail is great to bike, particularly in autumn when the leaves are changing. Treasures like the Lansing City Market boast fresh produce, a delicious cheese shop, a bakery, seasonal delights and much more. There is plenty to see and do in Lansing if you are looking for it. Even MSU has been making strides, with a world class modern art museum, the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, opening on campus in November 2012. Lansing is up and coming, and now is an exciting time to be a change agent in the community.
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