Before the automobile made Detroit one of the fastest growing cities in the country in the early 20th century, Second Avenue was a tree-lined street with beautiful Victorian homes for wealthy professionals in the Cass Corridor.
Then came the relentless demand for housing during the torrid growth of the auto industry in the 1910s and ’20s. The noise, overcrowding and crime that followed prompted many Second Avenue professionals to flee for more secluded neighborhoods, made possible by the advent of mass transportation.
Larges homes were torn down or diced up into apartments. Between 1905 and 1923, numerous apartment buildings were built on Second between Warren and Canfield. They include the Forest Arms Apartments, Winthrop Apartments, Pioneer Apartments, Hollenden Apartments, Renaud Flats, Touraine Apartments, Biltmore Apartments, LaBelle Apartments and Sheridan Court.
But the boom ended soon after as the Great Depression in the 1930s left many of the residents without a job.
The area has been in a slow decline since, and the four-lane road (with two additional lanes for parking) is often empty. Crews are scheduled to convert Second into a two-way road Monday, with a center turning lane and two bike lanes, from Temple to Warren.
Third Avenue underwent a similar transformation two years ago.
The photos of Second Avenue begin on Temple and move north to Warren.