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Exploring Broderick Tower

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Over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to explore the tallest abandoned building in Detroit, Broderick Tower. With the exception of a bar located on the ground floor, the building is entirely vacant. Completed in 1928, the tower rises 371 feet over the city. The building's 34 floors were home to many doctors' and dentists' offices, among other things. The building was originally named Eaton Tower, but in the 1940s, David Broderick, an insurance man, bought the building and named it after himself.

Like the other buildings downtown, Broderick Tower struggled to attract tenants in the 1970s and early 1980s. By 1983, almost all of the tenants had moved out. The building was purchased by Mike Higgins after David Broderick's death. Mike managed to lease space to a few tenants, but by late 1985, they had moved out as well. For the next ten years, Mike lived alone in the building's penthouse apartment. In 1995, the city told him that it was dangerous and that he could no longer live there. In 1996, Wyland paid Mike $3 Million to paint a whale mural on the side of the building. Mike intended to put this money towards new windows, so at least the building would be protected from the elements. However, as soon as he got the money, the city slapped him with fines. The building sat for years, with nothing but a bar operating out of the first floor. Mike had run out of money, and costs to insure the building were skyrocketing. Meanwhile, the city was getting angry with the building's condition, and continued to fine Mike.

Recently, Mike had planned to put an electronic advertisement over the whale mural. When it was on, the advertisement would have shown, but when it was off, the mural would have been clearly visible. GM would have paid Mike $2 Million, which would've gone immediately into securing the building. However,the artist threatened to sue, so they backed down on the plans.

Finally, Mike hired Hines, Inc. to redevelop the building into loft apartments. The city, however, wants the building torn down because of the symbolism regarding the whaling wall. They are willing to work with Mike in the redevelopment, but if the bar on the first floor gets shut down by the health department again, the city has said that they will take the building from Mike & tear it down. Provided that the bar remains open, the renovation should start in about one year. The renovation was supposed to start in 2000, but two members of city council hold up every development that comes to the table. You've got to love all the red tape!

NOTE:Urban exploration is not only dangerous, but it is also against the law. Trespassing is a misdemeanor, and carries a penalty of a $50 fine and/or 30 days in jail. I received legal permission to explore the building. Anyone caught in Broderick Tower without permission will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

That said, enjoy the tour!

Broderick Tower from Grand Circus Park



The whale mural


Upon entering the building from the revolving door on Witherell Street, you would come upon the lobby.


To the right, along the ceiling, are mosaic squares.


The lobby ceiling was restored in the late 1970s. It is still in pretty good condition.


The elevator doors are on the left. There are a total of five passenger elevators and one service elevator. The Christmas lights by the door pn the right are left over from some idiots who decided to try to string 16,000 Christmas lights around the top of the tower in hopes of lighting the building like it was lit in the 1920s.


This hole is where kids broke in over the summer to steal liquor from the bar on the first floor.


This door is the only way to get to the upper floors now. Until recently one of the elevators worked; however, the kids who stole the liquor thought it would be a good idea to throw the elevator motor onto the roof of the building next door.


Jay-Ryan, Inc. took up the entire 29th floor. They were among the last tenants to leave.


The 29th floor elevator lobby


This room was once a sample room for the architectural firm.


They left a whole bunch of paperwork behind, including renderings and plans for several projects around metro Detroit.


Plans for the Holiday Inn in Highland Park, which was just demolished last summer.


On the 15th floor was the Tower Dental Laboratory, one of the many dentist's offices in the building


The 17th floor housed a dance studio.


Also on the 17th floor was this room, which appears to be part of some sort of doctor's or dentist's office.


A common theme throughout much of the building is piles of paperwork that have been strewn all over the floor.


The elevator call buttons


An interesting corner room with wide open windows


Please continue on to Part Two

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Allan thanks again for the tour. It is great we have UrbanPlanet where people can post wonderful photos such as this without childish criticism that seems to accompany "other" sites. LOL

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