old gm building
Bartleby the Scrivener vegan27
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end of the line
I was looking at a map of my second childhood home in St. Clair Shores where I lived from 1984-1988, which happens to be about 230 feet from Michigan's baseline--the horizontal axis along which all of the state's roads, townships, and counties are based upon. I love how the landscape interacts with line:



The baseline, of course, coincides with 8 Mile Road, Detroit's northern border. It runs east of the city past Harper Avenue, disappears for a quarter mile, then reappears at Greater Mack Avenue. It continues for another quarter mile before becoming Yorktown Street at Goethe Street, and then bending toward the southeast. You can see this on the left hand side of the aerial photo above. Here is what the eastern most road coinciding with the Michigan baseline looks like on the ground:



In the aerial photo at the top, you can see how the back yards of houses are chopped up into awkward shapes by the clash between the straightness of the baseline and the curving streets and cul-de-sacs of suburbia. Another fascinating tangible marker of the baseline is the block wall on the southern border of the parking lot by Assumption Greek Orthodox Church on Marter Road. If everyone did their jobs correctly, this wall follows exactly the line along which surveyor Alexander Holmes and his team dragged their Gunter's chain just one year shy of two centuries ago.



After the bend in this wall, the baseline runs east for one last mile to its termination point at Lake St. Clair. It exists only as a county border, with no visible indications of its existence seen in satellite images. The suburban developments in this area are unconcerned with this line, following only the northwesterly/southeasterly sloping borders of the French ribbon farms that were once established on Lac Sainte-Claire.

The baseline meets the lake within the former Antoine Reneau farm, private claim number 222. Today this area is a miniature suburban development, just one cul-de-sac off of Lakeshore Drive named Fair Lake Lane, platted in 1954. The line cuts through lot number 9 of the subdivision:



On this lot--which is technically two lots in two counties--lies 11 Fair Lake Lane of Grosse Pointe Shores. Some day when I am rich this is where I will establish a surveying museum.


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