Another One Bites the Dust

Discussion of the demolition of the Park Avenue Hotel, as published by Deadline Detroit

View of the Park Avenue Hotel through the construction fence, shortly before it was demolished
View of the Park Avenue Hotel through the construction fence, shortly before it was demolished

“So devastating, but so controlled.” That was the eloquent observation of Uncle Nate, a homeless man and self-professed Detroit historian who summarized the demolition of the once-beautiful Italian Renaissance, Park Avenue Hotel Saturday morning. To him, the instantaneous obliteration of the massive, 13-story structure at 2643 Park Avenue in the Cass Corridor was a clear reminder of how much easier it is to destroy than to build. This is a truth that Detroit must reckon with every day, which is why it is so important to carefully consider what we allow to be taken away.

New York used to be the city with no past– beautiful edifices were sacrificed with minimal controversy to make way for the new and the better. New Yorkers who disagreed with such practices lamented the loses, but ultimately surrendered to their powerlessness to stop the forces of progress and change, the loss of something so irretrievable as a demolished building. That was, until, the original Penn Station was destroyed and replaced by the current iteration, which is to the old station what cardboard is to marble. Not coincidentally, the removal of Penn Station also made way for the construction of Madison Square Garden, the stale arena which is architecturally stale.

This was the final straw– New Yorkers, historians and architects organized to create the landmark preservation act, which was immediately used to protect Grand Central Station. It has been responsible for saving hundreds of historical structures since. It also paved the way for national preservationist movements of the same form.
Continue reading “Another One Bites the Dust”