By Jacob Jones
In the Roaring Twenties, the only thing that Detroit was producing at a faster rate than cars was money. The automotive industry had turned Detroit into one of the largest and wealthiest cities in the world. The economic boom led to a massive building operation in the city. Each new factory was larger than the last, homes were built surrounding the automotive campuses, and skyscrapers rose high above the city’s car filled streets. Detroit had arrived as an industrial metropolis.
Today, the city’s 1920’s skyscrapers, homes, and factories serve as a sort of time capsule to a moment when Detroit was on the forefront of the industrial world. But perhaps no building in the city better captures the richness of the era better than the Fisher Building. Built by a family of auto body builders, the Fisher combines industrial might and classical beauty to create a structure that is just as much an art object as a skyscraper.
The Fisher Brothers made their wealth in the early days of the automobile industry. The brothers emerged from a family of show-carriage builders. At the turn into the 20th century, the oldest brothers began to apply their carriage expertise to the new horseless carriage industry. The Fishers would revolutionize the automobile industry from the offices of their carriage company. The Fisher Body Company’s grandest achievement was the development of enclosed auto bodies, which broke the status quo in the early automobile scene, turning it from an open air vehicle to the enclosed, reliable form of transportation that it is today.
The Fisher’s eventually caught the eye of General Motors and through a series of transactions, GM would bring Fisher Body in house. The sale brought in hundreds of millions of dollars for the Fishers and with this massive amount of income, the brothers directed their focus towards something new; the building of the world’s most beautiful skyscraper.
Under the direction of Albert Kahn and Associates, the Fisher Brothers got to work. Breaking ground on August 22nd of 1927, in front of crowd that included the Governor of Michigan and the Mayor of Detroit, the Fisher Building rose through the city’s sky at an alarmingly rapid rate. The Building would be opened on September 1st, 1928 and would immediately gain recognition. The 441 ft. tower led to Albert Kahn being awarded the Silver Medal by the Architectural League of New York and the building was named the most beautiful commercial structure in the world. The Fisher Brothers had achieved their ultimate goal.
Walking through the lobby, one can glance at the fresco ceilings, marble walls, bronze doors, and art deco chandeliers and understand why the Fisher Building is known as Detroit’s Largest Art Object. While the beauty of the Fisher Building may speak for itself, there are countless stories behind the building’s history that one must hear to believe. Luckily, Pure Detroit offers exclusive tours of the building. An expert guide will lead you from Pure Detroit’s flagship location in the building’s grand arcade through the building. You will learn the most intimate details behind the family, artists, and architects involved in its creation. The hour long tour will also provide you access to the building which is unavailable to the general public.
To reserve your spot on one of Pure Detroit’s public or private tours please head to: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/pure-detroit-3623406533
Also, check out these premium Pure Detroit T's that celebrate Detroit's Fisher Building: