Oldest And Newest Buildings In Detroit Side By Side In Corktown


In the Corktown district downtown, the old and new Detroit sit side by side.

Quicken Loans Inc. opened a high-tech new server center in Corktown at the end of June. Inside, the building is home to 400 servers, two power generators creating 2.5 megawatts of energy, and modern amenities like sleeping pods. Outside, the building features large panes of glass walls and refurbished metal siding.

“We’re still connected to downtown and it’s in Detroit, where we made a commitment to,” said Adam McLaughlin, Quicken director of IT.

But around the corner you’ll find one of the oldest structures in all of Detroit — a plain, over-sized shed that once played a humble role in the birth of the labor movement. In modern times, 77% of Americans just use sheds for storing garden tools, but in the 1840s this Corktown building housed Irish immigrants and laborers. As many as 10 laborers were stuffed into a single room in this rundown shed.

In the mornings, they would go to work to one of Detroit’s many factories. Now, more than 150 years later, a neighborhood group called the Corktown Experience is working to save the historic building as a cultural site.

“We are dedicated to making it respectful of the neighborhood, to enhance education about the neighborhood’s history and make it a gathering place for the community,” said Tim McKay, president of the Corktown Experience. “We have the opportunity to do this project right, without it being dull…It’s an economic development tool that will utilize the history of Corktown to attract business and tourists.”

Corktown has been undergoing a sudden surge in redevelopment and interest over the past few years, attracting both businesses like Quicken and hip young residents to its cultural scene, a far cry from its origins as a home for factory workers.

“This neighborhood is getting its time to shine again,” said Socrates Apallas, board member of the Corktown Residents and Business Association. “A rebirth, almost.”

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