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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.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Motown: 1942

Motown: 1942

Detroit, July 1942. "Looking east on Farnsworth Street with the Rackham Memorial Building at right and Detroit Institute of Art on the left." 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Arthur Siegel. View full size.

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Tastes like Fassbier

Had not thought about Altes beer for decades, up until seeing that billboard across the street from the red roofed gas station. Growing up northern Ohio in the 60's, I heard a good deal about Detroit-area products and geography via radio stations WJR and CKLW.

Grand Avenue

The Packard plant is the set of buildings to the right of the Cold Storage (the almost-white building with the water tower on top, near top center), which still stands as of 10/2011, though I believe it is vacant.

I think the checkered tower was actually a fuel tank on the grounds of Detroit City Airport (the tank is gone and the airport is now Coleman Young International) and the long building to the left is what would later be called Russell Industrial Center (also still standing)

It also looks that the last building had a big red sign on the top in this picture, but I am unable to read it.

What is really amazing is to compare this photo from the old Maccabees Building to the current view on Google Earth, and see just how much of the background of this scene is THE SAME, albeit vacant.

Stuttgart in Detroit

Ever notice how gas stations will park an interesting car on the corner?

Packard Motors Plant

The old Packard Motors Plant (still standing today, but long abandoned) can be seen near the top center of the full-size picture, just to the left of the large checkered water tower on the horizon. I think the large building of the same style to the right of the tower is part of the complex as well. I've included a picture of how it looks today, taken at night.

Slight correction

This would be looking WEST on Farnsworth as the DIA is south of the Rackham. Love the image! Thanks!

[You have your directions mixed up. DIA is north of the Rackham Building and the caption is correct. - Dave]

Not much traffic on the street

I sent this photo on to friends and one asked "you don't see much traffic in these photos." I replied, "it's wartime, gas and vehicles are rationed." He replied, "Oh!" He is so much younger than myself.

[Vehicles weren't really "rationed" -- they weren't being manufactured at all. One factor limiting car use was the general unavailability of tires. The rubber on your car had to last "for the duration." - Dave]

Yellow stop signs

I had forgotten that stop signs were not red until sometime in the 1950s. I see a yellow octagonal stop sign at the corner of Farnsworth in front of the red-roofed gas station. I went to Wayne State 40 years ago. I was familiar with this area. I just did a Google satellite view and see it has changed tremendously since my last visit decades ago.

65 years later

Only three of the buildings in the foreground are still standing: The Detroit Institute of Arts, Rackham, and the Scarab Club (the brick building directly behind the white gas station). The area is now home of the Wright African American History Museum & the Detroit Science Center. Check out a current view.


Ever notice that you almost never see a truck in these old photos? If you do see one, they are usually some kind of delivery vehicle.

I guess people didn't use them around town like they do now. (And heated seats, power windows, and 15 cup holders weren't options at the time.)

Horace Rackham 1858-1933

Horace Rackham is the lawyer that drew up the incorporation papers for the Ford Motor Co. He invested $5,000 in 1903 and sold out for $12.5 million in 1919. He gave most of his fortune away as this photo shows.

What a gas

A particular treat to see some period gas stations in glorious living color for a change.

SHORPY OLD 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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