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About the Photos

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 • FLY CANADIAN PACIFIC, c. 1950s

Street View: 1908

Street View: 1908

Detroit, Michigan, circa 1908. "Gratiot Avenue from Woodward." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

 

My Motown

I've lived in Detroit and Metro Detroit all but nine of my 48 years and have traveled extensively throughout the US, Canada, Mexico, and Europe and what continues to confound me about Detroit is that there is a fascination with newness and that anything old is of no use whatsoever.

I am an exception in my wide group of friends and acquaintences who actually lived in the city as a child, had both sets of grandparents that lived there and until the early 70s when they all fled, frequently visited from the suburbs, and still go to the city for a variety of reasons (DIA, main library branch, Science Center, fireworks, etc.). Too many live in the outlying areas in their new homes and the furthest they drive is to their local Costco.

I continue to remain optimistic about my great city.

No missing K here!

The store is Ernst Kern Dry goods.

Not so fast

What a great shot, I cross near that (no longer existing?) intersection every Friday when we go to breakfast in Cadillac Square.

The Compuware building is full, by the way, and downtown is actually busy these days. I work up on Broadway, and game days pack 'em in, but by Compuware there are sometimes maybe a thousand people (of the 4,000 workers in the building) wandering around there and down Woodward. Summer has finally arrived and Detroit (CBD, anyway) is bustling.

Not even one brick left today.

A former Detroiter, I was just downtown two weeks ago and I am continuously amazed at how things are changing.


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Looney

I look at the guy in the hole and can hear Bugs Bunny -- "I knew I shoulda made that left toin at Albuquerque!"

City of Big Shoulders

... on the ladies.

I love the hat on the girl on the sidewalk on the left, with the two chip wings.

Anesthesia

Interesting how that arm and hammer is situated between the two "Painless Dentistry" parlors.

Mighty Fine Alliteration

At the Detroit Dental Depot.

Their fine town

If these people who built Detroit into what it used to be could see it now they would roll over in their graves. I was down there just last month, and all I seen was the current local inhabitants standing around the smoldering ruins of what is left of the city and wondering who was going to feed them.

Chief Shoveler

Notice that there are no safety cones, no nothing except the dirt he is digging out of the hole. If he doesn't get through by the end of the day, he will just put a "cannonball" torch on the top of the pile of dirt, pick up his tools and go home. The job will get finished tomorrow. Ah, for the simpler times!

The safety cone had yet to be invented

What they won't think of next!

City Lights

All the details ... ah. The metal arm on the wall. The lady in the window. The huge hats. ... ah.

HUO8OX8

Finally worked it out: It reads HUDSONS from both sides when the lights are on. After that effort I needa lie down.

The disappeared world

This is an early portrait of Detroit's three great department stores. Kern's, here mysteriously missing the K on its sign. Crowley Milner, still under its original name of Pardridge & Blackwell at this time. And Hudson's, which would eventually come to take over its entire block and grow into the second largest department store in the country.

All are now gone, along with every single building in this photo. Even the streetcars are long gone.

Tunnel King

I believe that's Charles Bronson at lower center, emerging from one of the tunnels he dug during "The Great Escape."

Huge Original!

What's amazing here is that the original full-size TIFF file is 157.3 MB -- even for the LOC, that's unusually big! The reason why is not obvious, and might be interesting.

[Not that unusual. 157mb is the standard file size for full-res 16-bit tiffs of 8x10 negatives in the Detroit Publishing and Harris & Ewing Collections, where there are many thousands more. - Dave]

Crack problem

Every time Detroit is featured, my heart breaks a little more.

Man at Work

All the rest of it is window dressing, this is actually a portrait of Sherm Podsnecker - Detroit Streets and Sewers Department. Chief Shoveler and Assistant Dirt Manager.

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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