Center Avenue presents one of the most spectacular displays of late nineteenth and early twentieth century residential architecture in Michigan. Between 1870 and 1940 Bay City's prominent citizens favored Center Avenue as "the" place to live. Early in this period lumbermen built lavish residences. After 1900 lumbering declined and the city's economy diversified. Leaders in the sugar beet, coal, shipbuilding, and other industries built stylish homes that reflected their substantial fortunes. Local architects such as Pratt and Koeppe, Clark and Munger, and Philip Floeter designed many of the buildings. Monumental churches and other public structures, like the Masonic Temple, compliment the residences. Center Avenue is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.