“Our New Campus”: Wayne State University and the Shaping of Detroit’s Midtown 


Sifting through dozens of university records, from master plans to correspondences between architects and builders to protests against Wayne State University’s urban renewal programs, this project argues that starting in the late 1950s and lasting until today, Wayne State has been the major institutional force in what is now called Midtown Detroit.

Utilizing its vast resources, identity as a university, access to federal funds and eminent domain, and under the guise of “urban renewal” and “slum clearance” Wayne State University took part in major reshaping and rethinking of what is today Midtown. Ambitious in its scope and extensive in its building, Wayne State administrators and urban planners aimed to create a college campus that made distinctions from its urban surroundings. The 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s were a tumultuous and trans-formative time for Detroit. The city changed socially, racially, and physically, and Wayne State was the much driver for this change inside and around the Cass Corridor and University area.