Monday, February 18, 2019

(Photos) Downtown Flint in winter

I was on vacation last week so I hit the road to a city that was in the news a lot a few years ago, Flint, Michigan.

Saginaw Street is the main thoroughfare in downtown Flint.

Up above is a ghost sign for Ferris Brothers Furs.

The Capitol Theatre, which opened, like most great movie palaces, in the 1920s, closed in 1990. It re-opened in 2017.

The Flint Farmers' Market--I love the possessive plural--dates back to 1905.

Pictured here is a low-head dam, also known as a weir, on the Flint River.

Of course when you think of Flint the first thing that comes to mind is the Flint Water Crisis of 2014-2017. Flint's economy began a tailspin that dates back to the early 1970s as the economy slowed and American consumers bought more import cars, particularly those from Japan. I'll cover that side of Flint in a later post. Twice in this century Michigan governors declared a financial emergency in Flint. During the second one, municipal officials decided, in a cost-saving move, to end purchasing Lake Huron water from Detroit; instead, it would pump in its own water from that lake. But Detroit, itself under a financial emergency as well as bankruptcy protection, turned off the tap to Flint, which forced the smaller city to temporarily use the Flint River for its water.

But the engineers failed to include corrosion inhibitors in its water treatment, road salt, which I learned is only used on main streets in Flint--I'll cover that later too--ate into the aging pipes which led to dangerous amounts of lead in the drinking water. Flint quickly switched back to Detroit water. Until last spring Michigan supplied free bottled water to Flint residents.

Last year an old concrete bridge, known as the Hamilton Dam, was demolished, which led to many reports that the entire dam was gone. Wrong. Who writes this crap? Just the bridge is gone. What remains, the low-head dam, is a drowning hazard.

That's Saginaw Avenue at the Flint River. The tall building is the Northbank Center building, which is now owned by the University of Michigan-Flint. It's the former Industrial Savings Bank.

The "Flint Vehicle City" arches, with electric lights, were built in 1905 in honor of the city's 50th anniversary. Electric street lights were a new technology then. "Vehicle City" refers not to automobiles, which were still viewed as a novelty then, but to carriages for horses.

Like Detroit, Flint was a hub for Michigan's lumber industry. As carriages were made of wood, Flint was a major producer of carriages, so the transition from carriages to automobiles in the early 20th century was a natural one.

In 1908 General Motors was founded in Flint.

 Sometimes life is better in black and white. Oh, beneath the arch is a Chevy Silverado, the GM Flint Assembly builds that pickup.

That's Flint's tallest building, the top half of it at least, the 16-story Mott Foundation Building. Its neighbor, the slightly taller Genesee Towers, was imploded in 2013. In a complicated transaction compounded by a lawsuit the state appointed emergency manager paid $9 million for Genesee Towers and then sold it for $1 to a corporation that demolished it.

You can't blame all of Flint's problems on the auto industry woes.

As for the photo, it's the first one I've posted when I used my new zoom lens.


On the left is William C. Durant, the founder of General Motors. In 1904 he took control of Buick from the man on the right, David Dunbar Buick.

The tallest structure is the Old Genesee Bank Building.

It's been many years since I've seen a pipe shop--other than hookah joints that is.

At night the arches are lit.

Related post of mine from Da Tech Guy:

Review of Season One of Flint Town

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