Mr. Midtown Risin

While out and about on foot in the New Center area late one night, I was arrested by the sight of something I did not expect. Through a storefront window my girl and I noticed that a recently gutted building had been hiding a secret...

It sorta looked like an old ballroom or theater used to be in here, but Sanborn maps of the area from 1921 just show a row of unnamed storefronts here. The old address used to be 1508-1510 Woodward (current address is 6534-6536 Woodward). Local architecture guru Benjamin Gravel says that the c.1920 Polk's Detroit City Directory lists Woodward Trunk & Bag Co. as the occupant.

A lot of the buildings in this strip have been purchased by a California investor, heralding the gentrification of New Center, and the northern expansion of Midtown™. Since 2007 (which is as far back as Google Streetview goes) this storefront housed a string of businesses on either side, including Angeles Fashion, Rock-N-Soul (Fashion That Rocks!), Celebrity Apparel, Instant Tax Service, and Hilal Books & Imports...pretty much in that order.

Hilal Books is still in the area, having moved a few blocks west to the basement of an apartment building next to that one French restaurant.

My girl was getting wound up to do a triple-roundhouse karate kick to blow out the front window so that we could go in and have our way with the place, but just then a busload of nuns pulled up to the stop light and shamed us out of it with some very stern finger-wagging. Our innate Catholic guilt kicked in and we decided to behave.

Just a reminder, everything you read here on is totally 100% factual ;)

For what it's worth, my girl handles most of the B&E and kung-fu needs pursuant to, as well as making a pecan pie so damn good it'll make you slap ya momma...two times. I'm just The Hand That Writes and Quickly Moves Away.

Sanborn Map Vol. 3, Sheet 111 (1921)
Google Streetview


  1. Long time follower, first time commenting: When I read "I was arrested [by]" in the first paragraph I was anticipating a wholly different story.

    Have you at all considered one of the pay-for tours they're conducting for Eloise later this month/into August?

    1. Thanks for reading!
      No, I'm good on Eloise, I've been there plenty of times. I'll let other people get a chance.

    2. I admire that. My fiancee and I have made it a point to visit every former state hospital site in Michigan, but the ones that meant the most to me (Ypsilanti, Pontiac, and Northville) are all long gone, with Ypsilanti's site being totally inaccessible due to the presence Toyota's testing facility. Although the main campus for Pontiac's Clinton Valley Center is now a quaint suburban landscape, we did find a few oddities in the dozered remains of the Fairlawn Center. I was still in grade school when folks like yourself were exploring these places-- I admit I'm envious. We both live history vicariously through blogs like this.


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