Located at the corner of State Street and Detroit's Washington Boulevard, once dubbed the Fifth Avenue of the Midwest, the hotel first opened in 1924 as the tallest hotel in the world with 33 floors and 1,136 guestrooms. Presidents, entertainers, major sports celebrities like Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth, and many other notables were guests of Book Cadillac.
Designed in the Italian Renaissance style by architect Louis Kamper, the ‘Book" was the top hotel in Detroit for several years hosting conventions, weddings, and many high society social events. The hotel played a role in the 1948 film State of the Union starring Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn and Angela Lansbury - it was room "2419" where Presidential hopeful, Grant Matthews (Tracy), readied for his speech to Detroit's business leaders. A nighttime image of the hotel's marquee is seen in the movie.
The hotel went in a downward tailspin when America was in its economic dilemma in the late 1920s and 1930s. New ownership pumped up the property and the Book Cadillac continued to flourish through the 1940s and early 1960s. However the grand lady of Washington Boulevard fell on hard times again and struggled through ownership changes and was re-flagged a Sheraton and later a Radisson, until the doors closed in 1984 and the hotel was liquidated in 1986.
In 2006, following more than two years of planning, The Ferchill Group of Cleveland, Ohio, worked with Detroit's economic leadership to devise a financial package to launch the redevelopment plan. A management contract was signed with Starwood Hotels & Resorts to operate the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit, and construction began in 2007.
Historic photos reprinted with permission from Images of America: Detroit's Statler and Book-Cadillac Hotels, by David Kohrman.