Corktown Historic District

This neighborhood is just southeast of downtown Detroit, bounded by Rosa Parks Boulevard, Michigan Avenue, the John Lodge Expressway, Porter Street, Trumbell and Bagley.

Two of the nearby landmarks are Tiger Stadium and the now empty Michigan Central Station.

The Irish were the first European immigrant group to come to Detroit in substantial numbers. They arrived in the early 1830s after the Erie Canal and steamboats on Lake Erie reduced the cost of transportation to the remote Midwest. These Irish arrived almost one-half a generation before the potato famine induced a massive migration of Ireland's population to England, Canada and the United States. Many of the Irish who came to the US were so impoverished that they lacked the funds needed to move beyond their ports of entry. Those Irish who sailed to Boston, Montreal or New York and then came to Detroit likely had more economic resources than the typical Irish immigrant did.

Irish immigrants, primarily from the southern port of Cork, settled in this area of Detroit, and hence, it is the oldest ethnic neighborhood in the city. The workingmen's homes in this area date from a variety of eras beginning in the mid- to late-19th century. By the end of the 19th century, the Irish moved to more expensive areas of Detroit. A small population of immigrants from Malta arrived in the 20th century making this, at least for some time, one of the few Maltese neighborhoods in this nation.

After World War II, city planners proposed demolishing homes in this area so that manufacturing plants could be located here. That plan was never put into effect, but neither were there any major plans for redevelopment of this old neighborhood. By the 1990s, urban revivalists realized that the old homes in this area might be quite attractive since they were located close to the downtown. Thus, there has been a modest revival. As you walk around this neighborhood of approximately 300 buildings, you will see a variety of types of homes dating from several different eras in Detroit's history. A few of the workingmen's cottages from the late 19th century survive, including a few in the attractive Queen Anne style. The single most important structure is Most Holy Trinity Church.

Michigan Historical Register: P34985
National Register of Historical Places: Listed July 31, 1978
Photo: Ren Farley; April 2012


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