Detroit (CBS Detroit) – Corktown is the oldest existing neighborhood in Detroit, though it is only half as old as the city itself.  In the 1820s and 30s, with the opening of the Erie Canal and the decreased cost of steamboat travel on the Great Lakes, immigrants began arriving in Detroit in significant numbers and settling downtown.

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“For me personally it feels like a little village,” says Mallory Mottoulle, Co-Owner of Good Stuff Corktown. “I grew up in a little village in Belgium way out in the country, and everything about this neighborhood reminds me of that.”

So why the name Corktown? The Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s resulted in extensive Irish migration to the United States, and many of these newcomers settled on the west side of the city. They were primarily from County Cork, and thus the neighborhood came to be known as Corktown.

“It’s one of the oldest neighborhoods in the State, and we really like the vibe of it,” exclaims Nathan Esquibel, Owner of Corktown Smoke Shop. “It’s really cool with all the old historic buildings.”

The original buildings in Corktown are Federal detached homes and rowhouses built by Irish settlers. A worker’s row house circa 1840 is located on Sixth Street and is one of the oldest existing structures in the city of Detroit.

“Corktown’s just such a community, it feels like another family,” says Caitlin Riney, Owner of George Gregory. “Everyone works together, there is no store in this neighborhood I couldn’t go into and ask a favor or advice from, and that’s a really welcoming and warming feeling, and you don’t get that in every city.”

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“You walk throughout the neighborhoods, it’s families who have been here for 20-30 years,” explains Kimo Fredericksen, Owner of True Body Fitness. “Or artists who have been here for decades, so it’s still a city but a very quaint, quiet and comfortable neighborhood.”

Mike Emmet, Owner of Union 3 Tattoo, adds “One reason I did set up shop here was because of the resurgence of Detroit and wanting to be a part of it, and Corktown was the perfect place for me to do that.”

“The Corktown community wants to stay historic and authentic,” says Alexandra Bourque, Owner of Brightly Twisted.  “And to be a Part of Corktown, to be part of a community that wants to keep that alive is really important to us.”

Watch for “Eye on Detroit” segments weekdays during “CBS This Morning” at 7 a.m. featuring unique and positive stories from the Motor City.

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