Paradise Valley and Black Bottom

In the 1920s, Paradiise Valley was the entertainment and business center of a very heavily African-American populated area, known as Black Bottom [1]. Nightclubs that resided in Paradise Valley was the sole source of income for a lot of those living in the Black Bottom; impoverish and rundown, gambling was a common occurance for these residents [1]. It wasn’t until the 1960s that improvements came along side Paradise Valley and Black Bottom, with the construction of freeways; however, this severely halted life. The freeway was needed at the time, for employees of the automobile industries needed to get to the suburbs, since they had outgrown their city factories [1]. This displaced a lot of Black families, and ended the culture and city Paradise Valley had come to be, nowadays, there is a park and an orchestra hall occupying these areas that were taken away so abruptly.

A monumental site in the 40s and 50s was a Jazz club called Paradise Theatre (Fig. 1) has been changed into the Orchestra Hall (Fig. 2) [1]. Notice how the architecture didn’t change at all, but the changes in the demographics prompted a change of culture as well, which is why the jazz “mecca” faded away once the residents of Black Bottom were forced to relocate.

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Fig. 1: Paradise Theater, “Jazz Mecca.” Paradise Valley (1940). [1] Source: History structures

Fig. 2: Google Earth image of Orchestra Hall (2016). [2]. Source: Google Earth

  1. Griffith, Shelley. “Paradise Valley.” Detroit Historical Society. Web. 27 Feb. 2016. http://detroithistorical.org/learn/encyclopedia-of-detroit/paradise-valley

List of figures

  1. http://www.historic-structures.com/mi/detroit/orchestra_hall_paradise_theater.php
  2. Google Earth of present day Orchestra Hall