To celebrate Campus Martius Park’s 10th anniversary, a block party is taking place July 25, and it’s sure to feature something for everyone. Come by from noon – 2:00 p.m. for the Meridian Mid-Day Music Series featuring Reggie Smith & the After Party on the McDonald’s Stage. Come back from 5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. to see non-stop music from 10 bands on two stages, presented by Strategic Staffing Solutions. Downtown street eats will also be available, so grab a bite and relax with some tunes in the summer sun!
If you haven’t been to Campus Martius, or if you’re curious about how and why it’s a special place in Detroit, here’s a little background.
Rising from the Ashes
While Campus Martius Park is a decade old, Campus Martius itself has a few more years of experience. Here’s a quick history lesson of how the area went from being considered undesirable to a magnet for ice-skating and sandcastles.
Campus Martius means “military ground,” and in 1788 it was used for military training. However, after the fire of 1805, Judge Augustus Woodward was in charge of overseeing the plan of the city’s layout and worked with local and Canadian surveyors. They determined Detroit’s “point of origin” was in Campus Martius, and it would serve as the point from which the city’s coordinates would stem. Bonus fun fact: Since the land was marshy and unsuitable for building, the land was raised 100 yards in 1847.
Fast forward more than 150 years to 1999, when former Mayor Dennis Archer set the goal of creating Campus Martius Park. Working with Detroit 300 Inc., a 19-member task force was created to set the vision, agree to a design and execute the plan. Of the six nationally-recognized design firms, Rundell Ernstberger Associates’ design was unanimously chosen by the task force and approved by the mayor and Detroit 300 Inc. in May 2000. Construction began in May 2003 and was completed in November 2004. In 2010, the Urban Land Institute awarded Campus Martius Park the ULI Amanda Burden Urban Open Space Award, outshining parks in Boston, Greenville, New York City, Seattle and Pittsburgh.
Today, this 2.5-acre public square is the sweetheart of the Campus Martius district, which is comprised of over 6.5 million square feet and is home to thousands of employees, residents and entertainment seekers.
An Oasis Amid City Life
Two corner markers made of steel, glass and granite stand 22 feet tall and glow at night, serving as the gateway to the park. One represents arts and culture, and the other, industry and technology.
Botanical gardens surround the perimeter of the park and feature bulbs in spring, perennials in summer and pumpkins, hardy mums (and a few scarecrows) in the fall. During the holidays, a lighted tree atop the Woodward Fountain and bare-branched trees with twinkling lights create a space worthy of a famous painting.
The Woodward Fountain features granite walls and jets that shoot water 100 feet into the air. Along the edge of the park are sculpted granite walls that have a soft flow of water to add a calming effect while you relax in the park.
Water also flows from the four sides of the Michigan Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which is one of the most famous statues in Michigan.
Lawn areas surrounded by granite steps allow for many activities to take place, from exercise classes to band performances to movie nights.
Speaking of performances, two stage platforms (one at each end of the main lawn) often feature local musical artists during afternoons and evenings in warm weather months.
While listening to great music or just meeting a friend for happy hour, you can stop by the Fountain Bistro, a restaurant which features creative dishes, a wine bar and seasonal outdoor seating.
Campus Martius Park Delights
The Park features French bistro tables and chairs that make it easy to eat your lunch, read a book, meet friends and more, any day of the year. But the real excitement comes from the great programming throughout each season. In warm months, musical acts perform on stage, movies are shown on a big screen and you can even grab a Faygo or beer at the manmade beach. In cooler months, a 60-foot Christmas tree lighting kicks off the holiday season, and you can don some skates and hit the ice rink, or roast marshmallows at an open pit.
Located in the heart of the city, “Detroit’s Gathering Place” is where you’ll find workers, residents and visitors alike enjoying the sights and sounds of the Motor City. Join us in celebrating its 10th anniversary by stopping by Campus Martius Park on July 25, and find your own reasons for loving this redefined public space.