Cadillacs were at one time, the ultimate status symbol, and when they were, in the 1950’s, so was Detroit, then the wealthiest city in the United States.
Cadillacs were the Mercedes of the era. If you owned one, you had made it, and everyone knew it when they saw those two raised wings on the rear of the car — uppity wings, so to speak.
Poor Detroit fell out of favor along with Cadillac. So did most everything made in Detroit, everything that symbolized the once great Motor City.
Detroit is coming back — slowly, granted — but when that car company came from Michigan recently to offer a tour of some new Boston and Cambridge architecture, along with a chance to try out the new Cadillac, scores of Bostonians signed up. “Driven By Design” was Cadillac’s hame for the promotion, which they have been doing in numerous cities across the country using a variety of newly built or renovated building projects in each one, as tour sites.
Teaming up with Architectural Digest Magazine and local architects, they have been tempting would-be Cadillac owners or downtown condo owners or peole just interested in a test run without having to go to a showroom, to come to a half-day tour in their own city, with transportation provided by Cadillac: either the new Escalade or the CTS.
After breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, guests stepped into brand new Escalades or CTS’s with every bell and whistle known to a driver, including a small refrigerator to keep ice cold, and drove to the not-quite-finished Millennium Tower with its luxury condos rising to 60 stories above downtown Boston. A mock-up of one of the kitchens in these elegant new homes made those of us who cook stifle a drool. No surprise that three of the $9 million units have already been sold, despite the fact that owners cannot move into them until next summer.
Cadillac offered the choice of driving the Escalade or CTS, or riding in the back as if visitors had their own chauffeur. That way the group then headed over to Cambridge in a line of sleek black cars looking like some VIP’s on a visit to town. One man, who owns seven cars of his own, chose to do the driving, and he was thrilled with the performance of the Escalade under his hands. Visitors snuggled down in the back seat, and indeed, the seat felt like the most comfortable lounge chair in your home. It’s a solid-feeling automobile, and should be, at $93,000! It even has retractable running boards to help you step down when you leave the car, reminding some of the older riders of the permanent running boards in grandfather’s Ford, where kids could stand on them to ride outside the car for the thrill of it, when Grandpa took them on very rural dirt roads. (It’s illegal now, but back then there were no running board laws.)
In Cambridge, Harvard College presented a personally guided tour of the glorious renovated Harvard Art Museums facility. Expanded and transformed fem an existing 1920’s Georgian Revival building now incorporating the Fogg, the Busch-Reisinger and the Arthur M. Sackler museums which formerly were in three different separate structures, the stunning facility with a pyramid-shaped glass roof to control natural light was conceived by famed architect Renzo Piano. With glass-walled transparent galleries open to the street, a Renaissance-style courtyard, spaces for research, a conservation lab, and an auditorium, the museum is more inviting to the public than any of the former ones were, and of course it’s completely energy efficient and sustainable.
Back to Boston, the convoy stopped to see one of the new private homes on the 23rd floor of the Ritz-Carlton Residence across the street fem the hotel of the same name. Designed by Boston architect Eric Roseff, who greeted tour-goers in an elegant pink jacket and copper colored leather shoes, the home is the ultimate high-style city pad of a savvy art collector who wanted a sleek all-white kitchen and up-to-the-minute wall and upholstery treatments. It’s a dream home for anyone who’s tired of the big old needy home in the ‘burbs, as this owner was said to be.
The tour gave a good peek at Boston’s newest architectural design treatments, and it also showed that Cadillac, along with Detroit, has moved away from its past downturn and is moving into the future, along with all these new architectural projects in so many towns across the country.
As for the Escalade and the CTS, they are definitely not your father’s Cadillacs.