Parking lots. As is the Detroit and Downtown way, much of the city’s cultural heritage was razed for car infrastructure – be it freeways or parking lots.
The discussion of Chinatown in Detroit is usually limited to the decorative marker at Cass and Peterboro that disappeared and then a new one was installed reminding us that Chinatown once existed. However, the Chinatown we think we know was a failed attempt at relocation after the original Chinatown was condemned and demolished for the Lodge Freeway project.
I had always heard or been told that the original Chinatown was at the intersection of Third and Michigan Ave and/or the site of the MGM Grand Casino. After some digging into the photo archives at the Reuther Library and combing through Sanborn Digital Maps, I was able to locate the original locations of the Chinese Cultural Building and the famed Chung’s Chop Suey.
There should, in the least, be a historic marker on the lawn of the Detroit Public Safety HQ to mark Detroit’s original Chinatown.