The Way It Was – The David Whitney Building

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1959In Hebrew, the name David means “beloved,” and when designating downtown skyscrapers, Detroiters love the name. There’s the Art Deco David Stott Building on Griswold Street hovering over Capitol Park, along with these two structures rising like citadels above Grand Circus Park: the David Broderick Building (left), on the east side of Woodward Avenue, and the David Whitney edifice on the west. Both are decked out in holiday splendor as part of the annual Detroit Aglow celebration. Built by Louis and Paul Kamper, the Broderick opened in 1928 as Eaton Tower but changed its name in 1945 when the new owner, insurance broker David Broderick, dubbed it after himself. Designed by D.H. Burnham & Co., the David Whitney Building opened its doors in 1915. It was distinguished by a dazzling four-story atrium ringed with retailers. Doctors and dentists primarily occupied the other floors. The structure is named after lumber baron David Whitney Jr., whose mansion on Woodward is now The Whitney restaurant. But it was Whitney’s son, also named David, who built the skyscraper in honor of his father. Both buildings were once vacant, but downtown’s revitalization has looked kindly on the two Davids. The refurbished David Broderick Building is now home to apartments, while the renovated Whitney, expected to reopen next month, will house an Aloft boutique hotel, as well as apartments. Detroit Aglow festivities, in which downtown sparkles with holiday lights and decorations, get underway on Nov. 24.

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