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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • NORTH TUSCANY COAST, 1948

Hotel Tuller: 1980s

Hotel Tuller: 1980s

A circa 1980s look at the Tuller Hotel, seen earlier here and here. "Tuller Hotel, 501-521 Park Boulevard. The Tuller Hotel was one of the largest luxury hotels in Detroit in the early twentieth century, with 800 rooms, each with a private bath. It was also the first hotel built in Detroit's Grand Circus Park district. Lew Whiting Tuller (1869-1957), who erected and operated this hotel, was a major builder of hotels and apartment houses in Detroit in the 1900s and 1910s. The three distinct buildings share a common Italian Renaissance styling." Photograph and caption by the Historic American Buildings Survey. View full size.

 

YIKES!

Looks like they kept the "DO NOT DISTURB" sign out to long.

Jeez o pete

I think that the decline of big cities has less to do with the tidal flows of two-party politics, and more to do with the invention that made Detroit what it was, the automobile... and the mass migration of everybody with money out of those cities. Not to mention poor city planning of the 50s-60s that slashed many urban neighborhoods into pieces with freeways. Cities have only begun to recover in the past decade. In any case, I find it difficult to see how hippies are to blame, especially not for our present and future problems considering that generation is nearly in its 70s.

The Tiresome Discussion About Detroit

Why must every discussion of my hometown devolve into either tirades about the evils of "liberalism," or none-too-subtle allusions to race (the "Coleman Young wrecked the paradise that was Detroit" angle), or some nasty combination of the two? But oh-so-little consideration seems to be given to the underlying economic structural factors and technological tides that have been much more historically important in making it both the great boom town of the early 20th century and the poster child of urban dissolution in more recent decades.

Idiot's delight

Nobody has pointed out that the Republican party chose to hold its 1980 convention and nominate Ronald Reagan in Detroit. The idea was to showcase the problem city--AND to promise that things would be different. With 30 years' perspective, we can draw conclusions about both of those notions.

The '67 riots sealed Detroit's fate

In addition to the usual business cycle of fancy old hotels losing favor to newer "better" hotels, the city of Detroit received a huge black eye 15 to 20 years prior to this photo.

"White flight" was in full swing by the time of the 1967 riot in Detroit. After the riots, the prosperous black population wanted to move out of the city too. The result was the affluent property and business owners moved to the suburbs. Without a reason for wealthy hotel patrons to visit the city why would there be a need for a luxury hotel in the city?

I was here

I was one of the architectural team that evaluated the condition of the hotel just before it was demolished, and the seeds of its decline were sown back in the 20's and 30's, and are not the result of liberalism, Reaganomics, or anything more complicated than the poor decisions of the owners. The additions to the hotel, especially the one on Washington Boulevard side, were poorly planned and poorly executed - you had to go outside across a metal fire escape just to get from one side of the hotel to the other! The original hotel could never have been called elegant, and its decor over the years just got worse until a 1950's remodel made it look up to the minute in 1954, but terribly dated by 1960. Every other major hotel in Detroit, the Statler, the Hilton, the Cadillac, the Fort-Shelby, was ruined by 'modernizations' in the 50's, 60's and 70's that replaced or covered the original elegance and classic details in favor of ersatz 'luxury' that faded quickly. The thing that killed them ALL, however, was the opening on the Westin in the Renaissance Center in the early 1970's. How could any old, drafty, non-air conditioned hotel with its rattly elevators, cracked plaster, peeling paint and knocking radiators compete with a 2000 room glass and concrete symbol of the future? Both the Cadillac and the Fort Shelby have been renovated and re-opened, both required complete gutting and both required conversion of half of the building to condos, just to pay the bills. Now these are the hot new properties, and the Westin looks tatty. The Tuller WAS too far gone to save, its fate was sealed in the 1950s.

Damn Hippies Killed the Tuller

Sorry, I just couldn't help the title. The image came first. The room just creeped me out.

Here Comes The Political Mess

Why is it some people just have to share their political opinions with you? Please go where they care about your political opinion; you see I could not care less about your political views. Now if you have photos to share you have my attention.

Politics

I think there were some politicians of all types who contributed to the decline of Detroit, most prominently in the mayor's office. That said, Shorpy is a much better place when it is nonpartisan.

A common cycle

Many a respectable hotel has gone through a cycle of decline. This is not a new thing. As fashions move on, the rising cost of redecorating to stay high-end or even respectable, at some point, intersects with falling revenues. Buildings obsolesce, become more costly to maintain, leaving less money for services. Clientele becomes more and more down-market, until the building finally succumbs to decades of neglect. Sometimes, after a decade or so of dereliction, the establishment finds new owners and new capital, and rebounds. The Tuller was not so lucky. As we have seen, some folks are just itching to blame this cycle on '60s liberalism (cue eye-roll), but this cycle played itself out many times before that decade.

Current Detroit Photos

Color photos of Detroit's sadder side can be seen here:

http://www.marchandmeffre.com/index.html

The Tuller isn't part of the set but others show the loss of what Detroit had been.

Hold up there, Cowboy

Radical Liberalism began in the 1960s hippie movement in SanFrancisco while Reagan was still a cowboy riding his pinto across the make believe range. Radical Liberalism's rampant runaway across America is alive and well and great cities in this country are all on the decline because of it. This hotel room is repeated all over America. it's not political, it's a fact.

[Factwise, when the hippies were grooving to the Summer of Love in San Francisco, Ronald Reagan was governor of California. In 2010, Detroit is depopulating as the auto industry there declines. More people would link the export of manufacturing to the free-trade policies of conservative administrations than to any kind of "liberalism." What would really be interesting (or entertaining) would be to lay out the specifics of how "liberalism" is responsible for the condition of this hotel room. As for it being "repeated all over America," the number of ancient abandoned highrise hotels in this country is probably close to zero. - Dave]

I base my comments more on what I see happening in middle america where rampant extremist liberalism deposited its payload, not so much on THIS hotel room in THIS city. Point about Reagan whether he was riding the range or not, is HE had nothing to do with this hotel room. Where do you live? An Ivory Tower, no doubt where you do not have to mingle with the masses. If you are going to let in one political comment then, speaking from a liberal viewpoint, Shorpy will Also cease to exist. [Roll eyes] Interesting comment from the guy making his political statement commending you for not allowing a political statement. [Roll eyes] You run a good site here, but people are hungry in America, keep your nose clean and give us something to enjoy. [nice of you to allow me this conversation--be nice to continue it in person as so much is lost in text]

[Next up on Fox: "Politically Incoherent." - Dave]

Factwise, there have been some good comments, and some who understand the point I was making. You just aren't one of them, Dave. I had thought you to be a smart guy and now I realize you are just a smart-ass guy. I bet you have a small penis, too.

I think

the Who must have stayed here. And thank you, Dave, for the nippage in the bud of political nonsense. There's already too much snarkery in the world. Shorpy is above all that.

Mayor Coleman Young Era

A more apt description would be that this is the Detroit of the Coleman Young era.

If anyone is interested in seeing the difference between the vacant properties of Detroit against the border of affluent Grosse Pointe, look no further than the satellite photo of Google maps and the Alter Road divider to see an infill landscape (GP) versus plenty of land (Det) where thousands of homes stood less than 20 years ago.

This is the area where Charlton Heston and my father grew up (although neither knew of the other).

Downward Spiral

Just heard on NPR yesterday how Detroit's population has fallen from a high of 2 million to around 700,000 today. While I knew Detroit was in a bad way I had no idea the depth of its despair. Hard to believe the "Motor City" of my youth in the 50s and 60s has lost its prominence. How quickly it has faded.

Liberalism's Great Society

Liberalism's Great Society in actual practice, and what they intend to do to our entire country, if we don't stop them.

[This is Reagan-era Detroit, a city whose decline does not have much to do with "liberalism," or politics in general. - Dave]

You've heard of the Honeymoon Suite

This must be the Homewrecker Suite.

Almost

Too sad for words. I was looking earlier this evening at a series of pictures showing how some of the great buildings in Detroit have fallen into neglect and disarray. A great shame.

Afterparty

Is this after Charlie Sheen stayed there?

 
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