TCF Center Mural by Lowell Beoileau 2020


Thanks to the many who responded to this mystery by email and on the forum.  The answer turns out to be that these towers were radar towers that are remnants of a Cold War anti-aircraft missile installation that was located on nearby Belle Isle.  This is wonderfully described in the following email from Jeff Zimnickas.

The concrete tower you have a pic of is NOT a foundation for a WW2 Anti Aircraft Gun. That is the remains of a radar tower for a NIKE Missile installation. The Nike system contained two separate areas per base. The "Radar Park" and the actual launch site. If this park is on the river, then this was the radar area for the launch site that was stationed on Belle Isle in the 1950's. In the early 1960's the NIKE system was upgraded from Atlas to Hercules, the latter being a nuclear warhead system instead of the earlier high explosive type Atlas. With the advent of the nuclear system, approximately one half of all the NIKE bases guarding Detroit were closed...This included every site within the city of Detroit (There was also a base at City Airport).

The tower had a radar dish atop it inside a large dome. Tin sheeting surrounded the concrete pillar to help stem the effect of the sun on the concrete (heating/cooling which would cause shrinking/swelling) as the radars would have to be re-calibrated anytime there was the slightest change in its physical position in relation to the launch area.

The acquisition radars (as was on this tower) would lock onto a target (Russian Bombers) send the info to the launch area, missiles would launch. One radar would continue to track the target while a second tracked the missile and made corrections to flight path till impact. These systems we're the Army's "Last Ditch" defense during the cold war. If the NIKE's were launching, all else had failed, and WW3 was on...scary stuff for the day.

I have made it a part time job/hobby researching all the NIKE bases that were in the Metro area, as my wife grew up about 1500 yards from the Utica (D-06) site at Ryan and Woodall Roads.


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