Advance Notice: Briefs

Could Detroit get its first national park?

By: - February 5, 2019 7:55 pm

State Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and Detroit City Council Member Raquel Castañeda-López want the city of Detroit to deed Historic Fort Wayne to the federal government.

They’re asking for the landmark to be designated as a national park and their petition has gathered nearly 3,000 signatures in support of the plan.

“We launched this petition to show how much community support there is for making Fort Wayne a national park with dedicated funding and resources to preserve its history,” Chang said. “The time is now to restore the site and end years of deterioration, all while generating jobs and tourism dollars for Detroit.”

Detroit is one of the few major U.S. cities without a national park.

Historic Fort Wayne is located on the foot of the Detroit River on the city’s west side. Constructed between 1842 and 1851, Historic Fort Wayne was used by American forces during the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II.

It was also the site where the first shots were fired during the War of 1812. The fort also used to house the Woodland Indian Museum honoring Native American burial grounds. It closed in 1991 due to lack of funding.

Rep. Stephanie Chang talks with constituents during her Dec. 14 coffee hour | Ken Coleman

“Fort Wayne holds so many memories for me and many Detroiters, and beyond its recreational value and riverfront access, its historical significance to our Native communities and country warrant national investment and protection,” Castañeda-López said.

Chang said there is “an incredible opportunity to improve a neglected part of Detroit’s Riverfront and preserve our history.”

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.