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Allan

Flint, MI (9/14/03)

18 posts in this topic

Here are some pics I took of my hometown, Flint, on Saturday. It was devoid of life, since it was a Saturday afternoon. Downtown is a Monday-Friday, 9AM-5PM place. There's not much activity outside of those times. I think I saw only like 10 people in the four hours I was taking pics.

Population (2000): 124,943

Metro Population (2000): 436,141

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The Citizens Bank Building

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Clock near the Citizens Bank Building

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The Dryden Building. This building is going to be renovated to include ground floor retail, and loft apartments on the other 4 floors.

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Looking down Saginaw Street to the north

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Looking down Saginaw Street to the South

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Mural on the Flint Journal Building.

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Flint's 2 tallest: Genesee Towers & the Mott Foundation Building

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Genesee Towers. This building was a product of urban renewal in the 70s. The lower floors contain a parking garage, while the upper floors are offices. It is currently abandoned, and literally falling apart - chunks of concrete have been falling onto the sidewalk from the building

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Industrial Savings Bank Building. It was built in 1920.

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Riverfront Park. These are overflow areas in case the river overflows. They are filled with trash, & smell really bad. They really need to do something about the riverfront - it's downright pathetic

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Downtown from across the river

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Newer Annex to the Citizens Bank Building

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Old Genesee Bank Building

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The facades of these buildings were redone in the 50s to make them look "modern". Some of these buildings are getting these facades removed, revealing the original detail.

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Republic Bank Building

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In front of Genesee Towers.

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This is as close as I got to a skyline shot. Next time I'll try to find a good view of the skyline, but that's difficult since there aren't many tall buildings, and those that are tall get hidden behind trees.

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Looking down Brush Alley

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Old Apartments. There are a few of these still around - most were demolished in the name of "progress"

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I saw this old pic in a storefront. This is how Saginaw Street looked in its the 1910s. I have no idea where on the street this was taken - it has changed too much to tell. An old streetcar is visible on the left.

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Paterson Building

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Downtown Church

I am going to go back sometime to take pics of the half of downtown I didn't get pics of - the batteries in my camera ran out before I got done. Later I plan to go back and take pics of the various neighborhoods. There are a lot of interesting neighborhoods - good & bad in the city.

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All I see a red "x", instead of pics. Too bad, because Flint is one of those cities that always interested me. especially since the auto industry, in Michigan, originally had a larger presence there, then it had in Detroit.

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Well, you don't know much about Flint, so I'll post this little mini history lesson of the city...at least I'll try to keep it short: I have a tendency to ramble.

Flint was originally a lumber settlement along the Flint River, but eventually became prominant in the carriage building industry. This is why a lot of Flint's history has to do with cars. After all, the first cars were nothing more than carriages with motors. There were at least a dozen various car maufacturers in Flint in the early 1900s. GM ended up buying most of them out, making GM the sole auto company here. You could say that GM built Flint, because it did. Some of the neighborhoods were built by GM as housing for factory workers. As the auto industry prospered, so did Flint.

Flint is the birthplace of labor unions. The famous sitdown strike is what prompted the formation of the United Auto Workers (UAW). The UAW still plays a huge role in the city today.

At the height of the auto industry, the city had nearly 200,000 people. With the 1960s & 70s, people started moving out to the suburbs. Schools began to decline, so more and more people left the city. During the 1980s GM decided to move thousands of jobs to Mexico, boosting the city's unemployment rate to nearly 20%. This caused a massive decrease in the metro area's population - from 450,449 at the begining of the 80s, to 430,459 in 1990. The metro area's population is still only 436,000...even with all the metro Detroiters moving up here.

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The city has tried many efforts to revitalize itself over the years, none of which have worked. It tried to reserect itself as a tourist destination, by putting a downtown hotel, and an Automotive museum, AutoWorld near downtown. AutoWorld was a complete failure - it closed less than 2 years after opening. The hotel has been opened and closed since its construction. Most recently, it has been bought & renamed the Flint Character Inn & Conference Center.

In 2001, former gov. John Engler appointed a financial manager to balance the city's budget. The city was at least $40,000,000 in debt, although some estimates ran as high as $60,000,000. The city recalled their mayor, placing a new mayor into office, although because of the financial manager, he is simply a figurehead, having no real mayoral power.

Yet despite all this, Flint has its strong points. It is home to Kettering University (formerly GMI), one of the top engineering schools in the country. It is also home to the University of Michigan - Flint, as well as 2 community colleges: Baker College & Mott College. Flint also has a very large cultural center for a city of its size.

I find downtown to be a very interesting place. There is a mix of architectural styles, and a good portion of it is old - 1920s & 30s. Many of the early 1900s buildings still have their original details in tact behind facades put up to modernize downtown in the 50s. These facades are coming off, and the original facades are being restored on many buildings. And about downtown being dead, you hit the nail right on the head. There is no place to live down there at all. Many buildings are vacant, and the restaurants close when the office crowd leaves. I was so hungry when I left because I could not find a single place to eat. The good news is that projects are occuring downtown right now, some of which are residential in nature....hopefully that will bring more businesses there too. I'm working on a Flint development update, which I'm hoping to have done soon...unfortuately I don't think much progress has been made since the last Flint development thread was posted at SSP.

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I was looking online, & found some old pics of Flint. I always like old pics, because then I can compare the same areas then & now. I find it interesting that sometimes cities look nearly identical to what they looked like in the 20s, yet other places are totally unrecognizable 50 or 100 years later. Flint has really changed when compared with what you saw above. Almost all of the buildings visible in these pics have been either demolished or altered beyond recognition.

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The vehicle city arches. These were in place between 1899 & June of 1919. Next year replicas of the original arches will be put up on Saginaw Street...and once again Flint will be the Vehicle City.

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Night view of the arches

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A 1901 parade passes the Bryant Hotel at 303-307 S Saginaw Street.

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Foote & Sachse shoe store in 1901. 409 S Saginaw Street

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Pettis & Sons Druge Store in 1903. 427 S Saginaw Street

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1905 Parade celebrating the 50th anniversary of Flint

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1908 View down Saginaw Street from the intersection of MLK & Saginaw Street. You can see that Flint is still a small town - no skyscrapers yet!

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1909 View of Saginaw Street looking north. Flint's 2nd city hall is on the left.

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Kobackers Furniture Store in 1910. The Flint River has flooded downtown. 218-220 South Saginaw Street

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Artesian well at the corner of S Saginaw & First in 1910. In 1930 it was removed b/c it was a traffic hazard.

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Saginaw Street in 1918

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1923 Flint Skyline. This was taken from the top of the Durant Hotel, which I believe is shown in these 2 pics I took, although I do not know for sure:

Durant Hotel?

Durant Hotel?

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1927 Traffic Tower. The Kobacker's Furniture Building is under construction on the left.

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Parade celebrating the 50th anniversary of GM. The building is the S.S. Kresge Building, which was demolished to make way for yet another surface parking lot :angry:

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Parade passes in front of the S.S. Kresge Building (on the left). This whole block is now that giant surface parking lot where I took this pic from. Hopefully U of M- Flint's plans to build student dorms here will go through, eliminating this eyesore.

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Vintage Cars in the GM parade

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I am getting very frustrated here. I spent 4 hours taking pics for everyone here to see, yet all anyone is seeing is a bunch of red X's :angry:. The pics show fine on my computer, but when I switch to my other computer I cannot see them. What gives? If this continues much longer I will have to search for a new host, since hostultra seems to be having problems lately. I guess I can't complain too much though - it is a free service.

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I am getting very frustrated here. I spent 4 hours taking pics for everyone here to see, yet all anyone is seeing is a bunch of red X's :angry:. The pics show fine on my computer, but when I switch to my other computer I cannot see them. What gives? If this continues much longer I will have to search for a new host, since hostultra seems to be having problems lately. I guess I can't complain too much though - it is a free service.

I've been using Host Ultra too, and all my photo threads aren't working now either. As has been the case so many times in the past, they obviously discovered that their free accounts were being used for hotlinking to other websites rather than for creating webpages on their server to be viewed by the public. So, they must have banned hotlinking. Not sure where to go next. ImageStation still allows hotlinking for free, but only if you use their reduced-size, compressed version of the photos you upload. I want a free site that will allow me to post original, uncompressed images here in the forum!!!

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For everyone that was having problems viewing my pics, go to my Flint Architecture Website. Then click on "downtown". There I have most of the pics that I posted here, plus a few more. The site is still under construction, but someday I'll put information about the various neighborhoods on too.

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Many buildings are vacant, and the restaurants close when the office crowd leaves. I was so hungry when I left because I could not find a single place to eat.

Is it really that bad? Is there no McDonald's? No Subway?

Anyways, your photos were working on your computer because they were loading from your cache (your computer's memory). If you go to internet options (assuming you're using Internet Explorer), and clear your cache, you'll see the pics won't work for you either until you load them again seperately.

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I just saw the pics on your site. As I expected, Flint has some quality historic architecture. However, it seems that urban renewal really took out the urban environment, because most of the buildings seem to face parking lots. Is the city or any local economic agency doing anything to promote downtown?

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There are a lot of surface lots downtown. There is only one huge lot though, and that is going to be developed. Actually very few of the lots are owned by the city. The gigantic parking lot that is in front of Genesee Towers & The Mott Foundation Building is owned by the University of Michigan - Flint. They are strongly considering building student housing on at half of the lot, since there is currently NO student housing available. Because of the large funding cuts education has taken in Michgan, UM-Flint is looking for a private company to run the dorms. I'm not sure what (if any) plans exist for the other half of the lot. I'll email them to see what plans they have.

There is a downtown investment group, called Uptown Reinvestment Corporation. It buys & renovates underused & abandoned buildings downtown. There are 2 main websites showing additional pictures & developments in Flint:

http://www.whatsupdowntown.com/

Uptown Reinvestment Corporation

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Hi, this is another Flint native. I just found this place the same day this thread started.

Lakelander:

I'd have to disagree with you. While there are a lot of surface parking lots, only 3 different ones were shown in FA's pics. One was at the bus station, another was for the Flint Journal (local newpaper), and the other was the big surface lot owned by UofM - Flint. The big lot is the only one with buildings facing it, and that's only because it used to be full of buildings that were eventually demolished.

All in all, I do agree that there are still too many surface parking lots, though (mainly because of the ones that aren't shown).

And to add on to what FA said, there's a streetscape project in progress on the main street downtown, Saginaw St. But, other than that the city can't do much because it's currently in a defecit.

Future Architect:

I'm worried about the UM-Flint dorms. I heard enrollment was down this year, and I'm not sure how it will effect the plan for student housing. Hopefully it'll push the University to hurry and build dorms to compete with other area universities and colleges. I think a small park was planned for the rest of the block.

I'm pretty sure the abandoned hotel is the Durant Hotel, and the "random" building is the State of Michigan building. ;)

Anyway, great pics!

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The Token Canadian:

No, there are no McDonalds. There are one or 2 sit down restaurants, but not much in the way of fast food. There is a Subway inside the University Pavillion, but that is closed on weekends (and is whenever I'm downtown).

Also I tried clearing my cache. I still got the pics to load for me. I emailed the link to this thread to about 10 of my friends, & none of them had any problems seeing them. And the pics wouldn't be in their caches since they never visit this site, & had never seen those pics before. Oh well...I'll just find a new host anyway...although those are hard to come by (at least free ones w/lots of space & good quality large pics).

dnast:

Good...another Flint native :). Yea, I heard that enrollment was down at UM-Flint. I know that they still want the student housing though...it's just a question of getting the funds. They claim they want the housing done by 2005...so they must be starting soon. Are there any renderings? It's good that they want to put a park there. I still wish they'd redevloped the buildings that were there before though...even though they were demolished before I was even born. That lot makes downtown look very un-urban, although it is good for taking pics of the various buildings.

Also...thanks for confirming that the unknown building was the Durant Hotel And that the "random building" was the state of Michigan Building. They really should turn the Durant Hotel into condos.

Do you know about the status of the Dryden Building Lofts, Republic Bank Lofts, & the Ferris Fur Building Lofts? Have any of these projects started yet? They'll help bring the residential component to Downtown. Downtown needs a lot more residential developments than those, but it is a start, considering there is no residential downtown right now.

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I haven't seen any renderings nor heard anything new about the dorms except that the president was still strongly in favor of it. I never saw a rendering of the new Flint Journal building either, so there's no telling how far along this thing is.

My guess is that the various loft projects are still a go since they are a part of the "What's Up Downtown" tour. Personally, I've seen no evidence of any work on those buildings. And speaking of the tour, one of the stops is "Manhattan Place" which is supposedly a former warehouse converted into lofts and condos. I had never heard of it until the tours were announced. Do you know anything about it or what building on First Street it could be?

EDIT: Nevermind about Manhattan Place. I found a picture of it 5 minutes after I posted this. Funny thing is I don't recall ever seeing this building before.

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There was a rendering of the Flint Journal Building in The Flint Journal when the project first started construction. I saved the article because it had the rendering. I'll scan the rendering and post it here if I can find it. I have so many renderings & building designs in my desk that I'll probably never see it again, but I'll look anyway. Construction is supposed to be done by the end of the year.

I believe that construction on the 352 Building has started. Last weekend they were working on the entry to the building. Also, it looks like the Ferris Fur building has new windows, so the renovation has apparently started. I'm not sure about the Dryden Building. I didn't see any evidence of construction inside, and the Dryden Building lofts are supposed to be completed by the end of this year.

I heard about the tours, but I can't take one since there was only one in the evening & I'm in school all day. If they set up more evening tours I'd take one.

Which building on first street? I don't get downtown much. I'll look next time I go downtown, which I'm hoping to do this weekend or on Monday, since I don't have school...it all depends on the weather though.

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Manhattan Place is the name of the new lofts on First. I found a small pic at www.whatsupdowntown.com . It's not big at all, but still interesting.

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I drove through downtown today, but I didn't have time to go look for it. If you find it let me know :lol:

That's good news about the 352 and Ferris Fur. The only thing I've noticed about the Dryden is the new windows, but they were replaced sometime last year. I guess I'll have to take some time to really look around since I missed my only chance at the tours as well (I wonder why they chose 8:30 am for the rest of the tours???).

Even though the new Flint Journal building is almost done, it'd be great to see the rendering!

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I wonder why they chose 8:30 am for the rest of the tours???

I have no idea. Probably because they figure that the only reason anyone would go is because they are bored during the day. They probably don't want people to go on the tours or something. I'm hoping that sometime they'll have tours again...at a convient time. There was one evening tour, but I had too much homework to even think about going...although that tour was probably full anyway, being the only evening tour.

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