Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Washington Boulevard Historic District

The Washington Boulevard Historic District consists of a multi-block area in downtown Detroit, Michigan. Washington Boulevard is one of Detroit’s main boulevards, and was part of Augustus Woodward’s 1807-design for the city of Detroit. Consisting of buildings facing Washington Boulevard between State and Clifford streets, this district was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The buildings in the district line Washington Boulevard beginning at the south end of the Detroit River, and ending to the north at Grand Circus Park. Some of the most significant buildings in the Washington Boulevard Historic District include the Book-Cadillac Hotel, the Book Tower, the Industrial-Stevens Apartments, and Washington Square (Trolley Plaza). The initial construction of the buildings in this district began in 1901 with the Himmelhoch Apartments, and continued until 1930, with the majority of buildings being erected during the 1920s.

In the early part of the twentieth century, Washington Boulevard was broadened and refurbished as part of the City Beautiful movement. The new development was financed by J. Burgess Book Jr. and designed by Louis Kamper in an attempt to resemble New York City’s Fifth Avenue. Edward H. Bennett, a distinguished master planner, led the transformation of Washington Boulevard into a Beaux-Arts streetscape, complete with a sculpture-lined park between two one-way streets. The Washington Boulevard Historic District was redesigned in the late 1970s to include an urban pedestrian mall, adding new sculptures and an amphitheater, but has since been restored to its original style.

Edited by Julia Teran


Book-Cadillac Hotel postcard, 1930s - 1945.070.001

View down Washington postcard, showing the Book Tower, 1930 - 2011.036.042

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