Much like the Kern Block, Kennedy Square was a mid-century development on the site of a razed historic Downtown Detroit building. Old City Hall stood from 1871 to 1961 on the west side of Campus Martius. Although its demolition was bitterly contested, arguments against the building’s unfashionable color and style, lack of fire safety, and outdated elevators and plumbing eventually won out. The seat of government had already moved to the City-County Building in 1954, making the Old City Hall obsolete.
In its place appeared Old City Hall Park, a placeholder until the site could be redeveloped. This spartan park lasted until 1965 when it was torn up to construct a parking garage capped by a concrete plaza named Kennedy Square. A large fountain dominated the new park but it was plagued with problems. Leaks, maintenance costs, and safety concerns lead to the water being turned off for the final time in the late 1970s. The barren plaza then stood without improvement until construction began on One Kennedy Square in 2005.
Many more images of Kennedy Square can be found in our online digital collection.