Depot Town, located in Michigan’s historic district called Ypsilanti, is a commercial and residential area with some houses set above storefronts. The town’s boundary ranges from East Cross Street to North River Street and Huron River, plus a small 300-block area on North River Street. Several surrounding blocks are also part of Depot Town, including Frog Island Park and Riverside Park. Established in the 1830s, most of Depot Town’s standing buildings today were built from 1850 to1880 (Zick). Over the years, the area has developed to include various hotels, a civil war barracks, and an underground railway station. Today, the town is dominated by stores and restaurants, and it hosts several annual summer festivals and cruise and bike nights. Generally, Detroit Town is of interest because it has several historical buildings, and it is an excellent residential area. This essay describes the history held by Depot Town, as well as why it is perfect for living.
First, Depot Down’s neighborhood was named after the railroad depot of Ypsilanti finished in 1838. The railroad connected Ypsilanti and Detroit, and its Ypsilanti station was wood-framed with walls made of bricks. People and businesses began thriving within this region in 1838 due to the railroad that created jobs and facilitated goods and people’s transportation (Zick). Subsequently, this led to Detroit Town’s development, with most of its today structures constructed within three decades in the 19th century. However, after World War II, passenger service dwindled, and the depot’s use finally died in the 1960s. Consequently, this led to a time when houses and buildings were neglected as there were no people to live in the area, and crime incidences rose. Later in the 1970s, young entrepreneurs and artists started settling in the town due to new opportunities and cheap rent. As a result, the city became the second-largest historic district in Michigan and Ypsilanti’s official site.
Most buildings in Depot Town consist of two major ancient styles: the Greek Revival and the Italianate form. The Greek Revival is described as an architectural movement inspired by the simplicity, elegance, proportion, and symmetry of early Greek temples. The architecture reached its peak in the United States between 1825 and 1860, which was the beginning of World War II. However, the buildings have varying consistency and thoroughness degrees. In Depot Town, the Greek Revival was seen in houses constructed in the pre-Civil War period, and it was characterized by a rectangular block form and columns (Zick). On the other hand, the Italianate style is a 19th-century building technique easily distinguished by deep overhanging eaves and gently sloping roofs. Corbels or rows of decorative brackets support Italianate houses with their exteriors constructed using stucco, bricks, or stones. Most commercial buildings constructed from 1860 to 1880 in Depot Town utilized this architecture. The homes have ornamental hoods and arch-shaped windows, together with decorative roofline brackets.
However, the town expected a significant building transformation in 2007 as there was a planned historic Thompson Block restoration. The structure was initially built using the Italianate style. The building’s basement is believed to have formed part of the Underground Railroad, and it was used as a barracks during the training of Union soldiers in the Civil War (Zick). In addition, Thompson Block hosted the first fire station in the city and the first Dodge Brothers car dealership. Although it possesses a rich history, Thompson Block has been in a state of disrepair for several decades since it was first erected in 1861. The owners began neglecting the site, and in a short while, it was vacant except for some people who used it illegally. The reconstruction plans to change the three-storeyed structure into 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and 16 luxury lofts. By fall 2007, preliminary demo work to make architectural drawings and secure the building had already begun. Once construction starts, the project was set to reach completion by 2019, and it will house twenty market-priced apartments, a restaurant, a whiskey bar, and other merchandising shops (Ramsey and Sophia). The refurbished block will have amenities such as wood balconies and floors, and it will be part of other Depot Town restored buildings that surround the old Ypsilanti train station and trucks to Detroit.
The major storefront district of Depot Town on East Cross Stress has several iconic, locally-owned storefronts, bars, and restaurants. The area contains various Best of Washtenaw winners and popular historic sites, including the Michigan Firehouse Museum, which hosts the Ypsilanti Historical Museum and Archives, the Ypsilanti Freight house, and the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum. Moreover, Depot Town has two beautiful parks, Frog Island and Riverside Park. The parks are located on both sides of the Huron River and are connected using a three-pointed bridge. There is also a Washtenaw County-wide boundary that goes to the Border train and runs directly through the parks. The Riverside Park specifically hosts various annual festivals, including the ElvisFest which invites tribute artists from all over America, YpsiFest, and historical tributes.
Lastly, Depot Town is appropriate for family living because it has a vibrant and historic neighborhood. There are top-ranked schools in the region, including the Washtenaw International School, which was once ranked the fourth high school in Michigan by US News and World Report (Zick). Young children and teenagers can also attend the Middle Academy and Perry Early Education Center, among others. Homes are close to each other, and people live a communal life as they plan, for example, neighborhood barbeques on weekends to meet and bond. There are many locally-owned businesses in the area, making it easy to access amenities and household items (Marsh). Depot Town has various places that one can visit, including the Corner Brewery which is very family-friendly and has a fantastic beer garden. Moreover, the Ypsilanti District Library, an excellent resource for both children and adults, is close to the region, and anyone can visit. Although crime has been reported in Depot Town, the incidences are few because people look out for each other, giving them a sense of security and community. Depot Town can be a perfect environment to raise a family, given its neighborhood’s diversity and friendliness.
To conclude, Depot Town is an exciting place to visit and live. The area consists of various restaurants, shops, ancient buildings, and museums that possess historical richness. Recently, the district has undergone significant changes that aim to restructure the town and make it livelier. Depot Town, generally, has a down-to-earth attitude, socioeconomic diversity, artistic nature, and history that can make one fall in love with the place. In addition, the region gives people who have children various educational options to consider.
Marsh, Aarica. “More than Rust: The Story of Ypsilanti.” The Michigan Daily, 2016, Web.
Ramsey, Bianca, and Sophia Kalakailo. “Ypsilanti and Amtrak hope to Bring Train Station to Depot Town.” The Eastern Echo, 2020, Web.
Zick, Anthony. “Ypsilanti Living: Depot Town.” Current Magazine, 2019, Web.