Sunday at Cass
April 26, 2015
A brief history of the Cass Corridor.
Detroit’s Cass Corridor is a strip of the city which is bordered on the east by Woodward Avenue, on the west by the M-10/Lodge Freeway, on the north by Warren Avenue, and on the south by I-75. Lewis Cass, Michigan’s Territory Governor from 1813 to 1831 and the Democratic Party presidential candidate in 1848, purchased the strip of land. In the late 1800’s, the industrial revolution transformed the area into a neighborhood for the wealthy, until the turn of the 20th Century when the automobile industry grew, drawing more people to the city. The upper class began building homes further from the heart of the bustling downtown. With the increase in population, the expansive homes in the Corridor became apartments for new Detroiters to rent. The area became more urban, and with Wayne State University at the northern section of the Corridor, the area transformed into the home of both poverty and art. The revolutionary period of the 1960’s made Cass Corridor the Greenwich Village of Detroit, where artists, musicians, and writers created and protests took place while urban decay spread.
Cass Park is near the southern base of the Corridor. On its southern border is Cass Tech High School. Cass Union was the first school established in the area in 1861. In 1919, the massive building was erected. The new building was constructed in 2004, just north on an adjacent plot. The old school was demolished after a 2007 fire damaged the vacated structure.
Cass Tech High School has an enrollment of just over 2,300 students, and is a Michigan Department of Education Reward School-Ranked in the top 5% of all high schools in the state of Michigan. It was also the home stadium for four years to Detroit City FC, the city’s fourth-tier professional soccer team which entered the National Premiere Soccer League in 2012.
On Cass Park’s western border is the Metropolitan Center for High Technology. Owned by Wayne State University, it provides aid to technological start-ups. It was originally constructed in the 1920’s and was the corporate headquarters for the S.S. Kresge Company until 1972 when it was donated to the Detroit Institute of Technology.
On the park’s northern border is the Masonic Temple, one of the architectural gems of Detroit. Construction began on the temple in 1920 and was completed in 1926. The sixteen-story building is host to concerts, shows, wedding receptions and graduations. It is the world’s largest Masonic Temple.
On the park’s eastern border is about to be the new Illitch development. You know, the one where the City of Detroit is providing corporate welfare to a billionaire so he can have a new hockey stadium, while the City files for bankruptcy, unable to pay pensions and debts. I won’t rant, because Dave Zirin sums it up here.
I stopped by this particular morning after Still Point’s Sunday service.
Images of America: Detroit’s Cass Corridor by Armando Delicato and Elias Khalil (Arcadia Publishing, 2012)
Cass Tech High School website