Landmarks are the substructure of communities. They are like endowments to community life. Every village, town and municipality has them, some dating back more than a century when towns and cities were built. The tri-county area is well-fixed with landmarks. Michigan and Wisconsin have them spread throughout their boundaries. It’s sad when landmarks come tumbling down.

One such landmark in Detroit recently lost its punch to the steel-fisted muscle of a wrecking ball. The famed Joe Louis Arena in downtown Detroit met its fate. The demolition has been a work in progress for months after the Detroit City Council voted in November to approve a redevelopment agreement for the site, including the nearby 3,200 space parking garage, with Detroit developer Sterling Group.

“The Joe,” as the huge arena was commonly known, was the home of the Detroit Red Wings for 38 seasons. The arena doors were closed to spectators in the summer of 2017. When the demolition work began in the spring of 2019, it involved two giant cranes and jersey numbers of retired Detroit Red Wings greats Gordie Howe and Steve Yzerman.

Demolition work was at a standstill in January to allow for electrical work near the property and for the arrival of specialized equipment from the West Coast that was needed to remove a major feature of the arena’s structure. Fans gathered in March to bid adieu to the arena as some of the last pieces of the structure came down during the gradual razing. Barring any unforeseen conditions, the massive demolition project should be completed by the end of July, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Although it mainly served as the home of the popular Detroit Red Wings for nearly four decades, Joe Louis Arena was utilized for other activities, including colorful ice skating shows.

The arena was named in honor of Joe Louis, one of the greatest champions in the heavyweight division of boxing. Born in Lexington, Alabama, Louis began his boxing career in Detroit and was the youngest fighter to win the heavyweight title. He was 23 when he knocked out James J. Braddock in the 8th round in Chicago in June 1937, making him the second black boxer to hold the heavyweight crown.

He became a legend in the boxing world, and especially in the state of Michigan where he made his home. After his boxing career, Louis turned to professional wrestling to help pay his delinquent federal income taxes. One of his appearances was in the Marinette Catholic Central gymnasium, now Saint Thomas Aquinas Academy.