[graphic header] Detroit: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary, National Park Service

Corktown Historic District

As the initial destination of many of Detroit's immigrant populations, the Corktown Historic District has been home to the people who built and worked in Detroit's industries during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Irish immigrants with enough money to take them beyond the crowded boroughs of New York City and Boston established "Corktown" in the 1830s. They built detached homes and rowhouses in the Federal style, a reflection of the architectural fashion of the time. As the area's population grew and the years passed, modest one and two story Victorian townhouses with Italianate, Gothic, and Queen Anne features joined the earlier buildings. Though by the 1890s an increasingly affluent Irish population was scattering throughout the city, Corktown would soon become the home of a second ethnic community. Around 1900, three men from the island of Malta had settled there, and a number of their countrymen followed. After World War I, letters home describing plentiful auto industry jobs turned a trickle of immigration into a flood, and most of them settled in Corktown. In the 1920s, Latino populations arriving from the Southwest and Mexico came to Corktown seeking work in Detroit's auto factories, adding another layer to Corktown's rich history. Corktown suffered in the 1950s and 60s, however, when "urban renewal", highway construction, and business district encroachment swallowed up or flattened dozens of blocks. Today the homes, businesses, and churches that form the Corktown Historic District offer a glimpse of the lives of generations of immigrants who helped build Detroit.

The Corktown Historic District is located directly south of Michigan Avenue, and directly west of Lodge Freeway (US 10). The buildings of the Corktown Historic District are largely private residences, although some Michigan Avenue commercial buildings are open to the public.

Corktown Historic District Leverette Street townhouses


Corktown Historic District Leverette Street Rowhouses
Photographs courtesy of the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office

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