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The Summer of '42

The Summer of '42

Detroit, July 1942. "Looking down on a parking lot from the rear of the Fisher Building." 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Arthur Siegel. View full size.


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Fisher Building

I'm sitting at work on the seventh floor of the Fisher Building in Detroit at this very moment!


I'm surprised to see the little dive bar in the back of the lot. Can anyone make out the name?

The Fisher Building is one of the most beautiful buildings I've ever been in. Along with the Guardian Building and the Book-Cadillac Hotel, Detroit has such gems more people need to see!

How bored was he

I am so bored that I count 181 cars in the parking lot and 10 among them that are not turret-topped/not whoosh-windowed/not round-rumped, aka pre-1936ish, so other than those 10, everything there is less than five or six years old. About the same as most parking lots that I park in today, well maybe not. Definitely maybe, almost for sure.

Las Vegas

The Time, The Place And The Cars

I suppose you can put the relative absence of older cars down to a couple of things. First this is a pretty major office building (headquarters of Fisher Body) so you'd expect that at least some of the people who work here to be above the norm in terms of affluence; that is more likely to buy newer cars. Then too this is three years after the start of World War II (although only a few months after the US got into the war). Even though, and maybe because, the United States wasn't at war until December 1941, the war in Europe had a big impact on companies like General Motors and its subsidiary Fisher Body. Increased wartime production meant greater competition for workers which meant higher wages which meant that more people were likely to consider a new car purchase than they might have been if the photo had been taken in say 1936. And who knows, maybe the fact that Fisher is a subsidiary of GM meant there'd be a discount available for employees. One things likely - you weren't going to see many Fords, Dodges or Hudsons in THAT parking lot!

[This was an office building financed by the Fisher family with proceeds from the sale of Fisher Body to GM. It was not a General Motors building, and not the headquarters of Fisher Body. - Dave]


Interesting that already in 1942 we see few really old cars in this shot with so many cars captured in it. I see about three or four obviously mid-'thirties cars, and only two possibly late-'twenties or very early-'thirties examples.

Thanks also for the current comparison shot, those are always interesting!

Deja View all over again

It looks like Deitrich Furs has replaced the billboards, and, if you enlarge the Deja Vu picture, you can virtually stroll down the street with the private dwellings and see that they are now condos. Looks like one block to the north still has old single dwelling homes, however

Deja View

Point of reference: the square skylight. Click to zoom.


I know the cars are the point, in a way, but those huge old houses among the trees are a wonderful sight. I wonder how many are left? All the ones where I live have either been torn down or turned into apartments. Hard to believe those were single family dwellings. One would love to fly down and walk those streets under the shady trees.

Wartime Parking Lot

Oiled gravel striped with chalk. I remember those.

Cars from this era

Looking at older American cars from this era and even into the 50s and 60s reminds me that SUVs aren't really an aberration, they're more of a return to our roots!

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