In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a major urban redevelopment project on Detroit’s east side created Lafayette Park, a planned community that is today one of the city’s most racially integrated and economically stable neighborhoods. Lafayette Park was built on land that was once a densely populated working-class African-American neighborhood called Black Bottom, after the marshy bottoms at the source of the River Savoyard, which was buried when Detroit was settled. Classified as a “slum” in the 1940s, the neighborhood were razed and left vacant until the mid-1950s, when Chicago developer Herbert Greenwald made a successful proposal to develop the land with architect Mies van der Rohe, urban planner Ludwig Hilberseimer and landscape designer Alfred Caldwell. Three high-rises, 186 ground-level townhouses and a large park were completed by the early 1960s.
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