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Demolition Begins On Historic Ford Auditorium

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(WWJ Photo/Florence Walton)

(WWJ Photo/Florence Walton)

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DETROIT (WWJ) – A historic Detroit building meets a wrecking ball Friday morning as part of an effort to revive the city’s riverfront.

Ford Auditorium was once filled with the sounds of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X both gave historic speeches inside of the building as well. But now its the end of the line for the historic venue which has sat vacant on the city’s waterfront for over 20 years.

After brief remarks from Detroit Mayor Dave Bing late Friday morning, demolition crews will let the wrecking ball swing.

The 5,000-seat auditorium opened in 1956, but has sat vacant since the symphony left in 1989.

In November 2010, the mayor pledged his administration would remove the eyesore from Detroit’s emerging riverfront, as part of a larger effort by to get rid of blight in the city.

Friday, bystander Ken Vanhevel said his high school graduation was held in Ford Auditorium.

“I’m shocked that they’re ripping it down. I mean, there’s all these buildings down there that they could be using for event. You know, concerts or whatever. It’s a shame,” he said.

To date, the Bing administration has demolished more than 3,000 blighted structures in city neighborhoods.

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