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About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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East From Majestic: 1903

East From Majestic: 1903

Detroit, Michigan, circa 1903. "Wayne County Building, looking east from Majestic Building." This view includes a couple of the city's arc-lamp "moonlight towers." 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.

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Off in the distance, a glimpse of the future

In the distance on the right of this photo you can barely read the sign - "William E. Metzger, AUTOMOBILES" - but it provides a view into this city's swiftly onrushing future. This business, which was only six years old then, was the first automotive retail dealership and showroom in the U.S. But Metzger was up to even bigger things, and in the year of this picture would help to found the Cadillac Motor Car Co., which was the first of many such automotive ventures that Mr. Metzger was involved in. Within the decade automobile manufacturing would be the largest business in Detroit, Detroit would be the motor capitol of the country, and THE American boomtown of the early 20th century.

"William E. Metzger Automobiles"

Faintly in the distance, a couple of blocks from the Detroit River, is the dealership of William E. Metzger - the pioneering auto dealer. In 1903, his luck was about to peak. After 1908, he shifted from selling Oldsmobiles and Cadillacs, and put his money into brands that time has now forgotten. After trying to recapture the magic in the aircraft business, he died in 1933.

Wayne County Building Is in Good Shape

Built 1895-1902, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

Looking east

The photo shows west side of the Wayne County Building in full sunlight, so it's afternoon.

Sooty Air

*cough cough*


So few people in a huge industrial town. The shadows say early morning, I think we are looking on a Sunday.

Pre-heavy metal

Hmph. The Vizcaya cannon isn't on the lawn yet, nor are the heroic bronze chariots up on the roof.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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