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Tyler Firestone's Senior Capstone Project

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Tyler's Question:
"Why Birmingham?"
Prominent men like Ernest W. Seaholm (a Cadillac executive) and Charles E. Wilson (President of General Motors and Secretary of Defense under President Eisenhower) resided in Birmingham in the mid-20th century. They chose it because it was special. What made Birmingham so different?

Here are Tyler's conclusions, based on five key aspects of Birmingham's history:Bham B&A Tyler 5 Charactersitics

New Wider Woodward Street Scene near Birmingham Afterglow REV 1926 DecWoodward Avenue--Woodward Avenue runs from Detroit to Pontiac, connecting much of Southeast Michigan's Automotive Industry. Before the construction of interstate highways like I-75 in the 1950s, Woodward was the most efficient way to travel between these two places. To effectively conduct business, auto executives needed to easily access Detroit and Pontiac. To do that, they needed easy access to Woodward Avenue. Birmingham's proximity to Woodward provided the access that these executives needed, making Birmingham an ideal spot to settle.

Martha Baldwin-REVMartha Baldwin--Martha Baldwin dedicated her entire life to the betterment of the Village of Birmingham. One of her many projects to improve the village was a group known as the Village Improvement Society. The goal of this group was to make Birmingham a nicer place to live. The group successfully lobbied for ordinances prohibiting spitting in public, tying horses to trees, and much more. Baldwin and the Village Improvement Society ultimately made Birmingham an attractive place to visitors. Those who would come liked being here. When prospective residents looked at Birmingham as a possible place to relocate, Baldwin's improvements helped to cast Birmingham in a positive light, encouraging more affluent automotive executives to pick Birmingham over other places to bring their family.

Birmingham water tank 1930sWater and Sewage--By 1895, every building in Birmingham had running water and sewage to go with it. At this time, backyard wells and outhouses were still common. Birmingham boasted the newest utilities that 1895 had to offer, a feature that was extremely appealing to prospective residents.

1926 firefightersFire Department--In the year 1923, Birmingham's Field Building went up in flames. The village was horribly unequipped to deal with a fire of this magnitude, resorting to calling in Pontiac fire engines to fight the inferno. As a result, Birmingham immediately organized an official volunteer fire department. Its fire engines are pictured being shown off in the Fourth of July Parade of 1924.

Lingeman Developer a picture wherever you turnSpecialized Subdivisions--Quarton Lake Estates was meant to be a neighborhood for wealthier people. Fine print in deed restrictions from the 1910s require that houses built in the development be so expensive that only affluent people could afford them. Quarton Lake Estates was also advertised directly to these people in the Afterglow, a 1920s lifestyle magazine that targeted people in the upper classes.

Eco City Street REv1939  from Archit Survey of Bham booklet

On the other hand, Eco-City was at the other end of the spectrum. It advertised affordable housing to lower-income auto workers and promoted the development at 14 Mile and Woodward  for its proximity to Woodward and public transportation to the factories in Pontiac and Detroit.