David Broderick Tower

Broderick Tower is one of the defining buildings of Detroit’s skyline. From its prominent location overlooking Grand Circus Park to the iconic whale mural covering the east face, generations of Detroiters have used the tower as a landmark in good times and bad.

Originally named the Eaton Tower after a prominent Detroit mercantile family, the 34-story structure at the corner of Woodward and Witherell would be designed by Louis Kamper and feature storefronts, offices, and studios. According to the July 11th, 1926 Detroit Free Press, Eaton Tower would have three classes of tenants: “The first five floors are to be designed for retail stores and shops… The remainder of the building up to the thirty-first floor will be occupied by businesses and professional offices, while the four top floors are to be reserved for artists, writers, and teachers of music.” Steel work was completed in March of 1927, and Eaton Tower was open by 1928.

In 1944 Eaton Tower was sold to a company led by David Broderick, an insurance broker, who renamed the tower after himself. Like other downtown Detroit office buildings the Broderick Tower went into a decline in the 1970’s, losing tenants to the suburbs. Most of the building was vacated in 1985, while a restaurant on the first floor held on until 1993.

For 17 years the tower stood vacant, as downtown Detroit bottomed out and began to rebound. An 18-story tall mural of two humpback whales painted on the side of the tower in 1997 by artist Robert Wyland brought renewed attention to the decaying building, but it would not be until 2010 that a plan to renovate the Broderick Tower finally gained traction. Over the next two years the Broderick was gutted and converted into residential apartments at a cost of $53 million dollars, reopening in 2012.