JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Woodward Avenue: 1917

Detroit, Michigan, circa 1917. "Looking up Woodward Avenue." Dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

Detroit, Michigan, circa 1917. "Looking up Woodward Avenue." Dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

One of the best!

The photo is insanely busy and the comments led me on a couple scavenger hunts online. Introduced to Gladys Brockwell, Daniel Burnham, Cascade, Dietsche company, etc. A very entertaining hour and a half on this one pic! Of course, being from Detroit makes it that much more interesting. Also, Heartbreaking, Detroit is a pheonix. You watch what she can do! The people have so much spirit. We love our city like a member of our family.


My co-worker's last name is Kerns. I showed him this picture one day and eventually forwarded it to him. He then forwarded picture to his family and learned that his mother Americanized their Polish name around 1917 after seeing that building "Kern's Children's Clothes."

Re: Re: An Edison Electric

My great-great-grandfather Frank Montgomery Foster was selling Kissel Kars in Detroit. In 1913, he also had "one of the Detroit's finest garages at the corner of Gratiot Avenue and Grand Boulevard." It looks like the two cars in the bottom left of the photo (with the barrel fronts) may be Kissels, but I don't know enough about autos of the era to ID them.

Movie ID help

In the background, there appears to be a movie showing called "The Spoilers", but Wikipedia says it came out in 1914, not 1917. Just below that it looks like "Barrymore (?) as Georgia" and to the left of that is "Ty". Anyone have some ideas as to which movies are being advertised?

[The movie is "Somewhere in Georgia," with Ty Cobb, released in 1917. - Dave]

I can't relate to this picture at all

There is no one in this picture that looks like me or anyone else in my family and for that matter most of my friends...maybe that's how most of the people making comments about it want Detroit to look like.

Cascade Hollow

The current Cascade Hollow Whiskey was created to deal with a shortage of the Dickel No. 8 and then just hung around. They didn't have enough whiskey of a certain age so they made a new brand and put their younger stuff in it so that the quality of the No. 8 wouldn't suffer. The Cascade Hollow has been discontinued, but it's still on the shelves in many places.

The name Cascade was replaced by the Dickel name after Prohibition and a number.

In order of price (& quality) the current Dickel offerings are:
(Cascade Hollow)
Dickel No. 8
Dickel No. 12
Dickel Barrel Select (which is one of the best whiskeys I've ever had. And I've had a lot.)

Anyway, Dickel is currently owned by the evil international spirits conglomorate Diageo, which also owns Guinness, Hennessey, Smirnoff, Johnny Walker, Tanqueray, Bushmills, Cpt. Morgan, Jose Cuervo, Crown Royal and many many more.

Hudson's Grows, and...

Hudson's grew with Detroit, and perhaps inevitably, declined with Detroit.

Re. "Mellow as Moonlight"

I saw this photo a few days ago, and, like GeezerNYC, I was quite struck by the Cascade Whiskey billboard. Now, I know that Geo. Dickel is still in business, and I was familiar with Dickel's Tennessee Sipppin' Whiskey and Old No. 8, but I had never heard of Cascade. It must have gone the way of the buggy whip and Lydia Pinkham, I thought.

But then today I stopped at the liquor store after work to pick up a bottle of wine, and GUESS WHAT THEY HAD?!?! shhhh...too loud. So, then

and I bought some. And do you guys know what? It's pretty goood. I';m drikning it right now. And I just wanna

True story I swear.

Hey! do you know what? I bought some oft hat Cacsade whiskey? Or is it whishky? Aanyway, I just wanna

You know what/ You guys are greatf. I just wanna

Still busy

Not like this, but the ice skating rink at Campus Martius is already set up and would be approximately directly in front of the Detroit Opera House. Downtown Detroit is not the home of thugs or crime at all, really, but is sadly quiet when the businesses are closed. Many of the buildings are still here, and magnificent. Come visit before they tear them all down.

I'll be ordering a large print of this image! Thank you Shorpy.

Very Nicely Maintained

The Soldiers & Sailors monument is actually very well maintained. Notice how it's not all blackened with soot as in the old photo. When you view it up close you can also see where some very nice restoration has recently been done. Not everything in Detroit is a rotting hulk.

The building on the far left

is the 1896 Majestic Building, designed by the famous Chicago architect Daniel Burnham. Among other things, Burnham also designed the Flatiron Building in NYC, and oversaw the construction of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. The Majestic was Detroit's tallest building until 1909, when the Ford Building (also a Burnham creation) was completed. The Ford still stands today, as well as Burnham's other Detroit creations, the David Whitney Building and the Dime Building. Sadly the Majestic was torn down in 1962 to make way for the exponentially less-interesting 1001 Woodward Building.

“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistence. Remember that our sons and our grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty.”
-Daniel H. Burnham

Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Still nearby, but not as nicely maintained.

Sight Seeing in Detroit ca. 1917

The Dietsche Sight Seeing Company was one of several companies that offered tours of Detroit back in this time period. Below is a photo of their advertisement offering their services to local companies who might want to entertain their out-of-town customers with a "Sight Seeing Trip around the city, Belle Isle, or Water Works Park."

Given the description of the street banner, this photo was probably taken sometime around June 5, 1917, which was the date on which all men between the ages of 21 and 31 were required to register for the draft.

And to your left...

Seems even Detroit had its requisite "Seeing..." touring bus company. I count three "charabancs" in this photo, one across the street from Bond's with "WELLS" emblazoned on the back, and two in the centre-left crammed with mostly female tourists. Wonder what they were off to see next?

I'm loving the little insignificant human moments the photographer caught and immortalized: the man at the lower left trying to make something out on a bulletin board; the hefty many putting his arm around his companion's waist next to the memorial; three ladies converging outside the theater. Fantastic.

That banner over the street


The girl in white

I think that the girl in white is in fact a girl - probably a young teen accompanying her mother (the lady in the plaid skirt). Therefore she would be perfectly well dressed for her age. However that also means that she would be in the right demographic to become a flapper once the twenties (which would coincide with her twenties) rolled around.

Great picture - Lord I could look at it for hours!

All in White

I love the woman all in white crossing the street with her plaid skirted friend (near the front of the photo, just before the frontmost car). She looks so different than everyone else.

I bet the two women just walking into the frame below them are talking about her. She's showing ankle AND calf! I'm sure she'll be a flapper in a few years!


This image is go busy and wonderful. There is so much to notice. I wonder what the conversations were and so much more.

There is a tent in the middle of the square to the left of the statue. Why? What is the statue of?

Oh what a feeling

I had to smirk a bit when I opened of the intersection on Google streets and the first thing I saw was a shiny Toyota.


When I go through Detroit now it is a vast third world, broken down, trashed city, with gangs and thugs peering from behind collapsed buildings. How in the name of all that is worthy could this magnificent American city come to what it is today? Almost makes me want to watch Glenn Beck.

Before it was called Wootwart (Woodward)

The definition of the "good old days" ...

Stop sign doesn't apply...

Surprised to see that pedestrains do not follow traffic signs as they crossed the streets. It seems that those signs were for trolleys and cars only. It anwered my question why my g-g-great uncle got killed by a trolley.

Is it a coincidence

that Shorpy has hit upon another star of the silent screen? The theater beneath the Blackstone Cigar sign (far right)features Gladys Brockwell, who, like Kay Laurell (1890-1927), died in her thirties. Horrific 1929 car crash in California.


Wow! You can almost hear the hustle and bustle of prosperity in this amazing photograph -- the essence of early 20th century proud American urbanity. Go to Google Earth or some other mapping web site and visit the corner of Woodward and Fort today -- a dreary, faceless, lifeless desert of glassy highrises without a pedestrian in sight.

Notice the complete absence

of horse poop. And horses.

Re: An Edison Electric

Looks more like a Detroit Electric car than the very rare Edison.

The main reason the ladies like the electric car was no crank starting. Charles Kettering changed that a few years later with the electric starter motor if IC engines.

Traffic Lights

Great image. Did traffic lights look different then, or did they not have them in Detroit?

[In 1917, traffic signals came on two legs. - Dave]

Merrill Fountain

The Merrill Fountain in front of the Opera House still exists, too. Granted, it was moved about seven miles up the road to Palmer Park.

Speaking of moonlight

Farewell, good moonlight towers. Twenty years gone by the time of this photo.

Cloudy crystal ball

Cover story in Time Magazine, October 5, 2009: "The Tragedy of Detroit: How a great city fell, and it it can rise again."

An Edison Electric

I notice that the Edison Electric is being driven by a woman. My grandmother (who lived in Detroit) said that the only car she ever drove was an Edison Electric. She was afraid of driving a gasoline-powered car.

[Women liked electrics because there were no gears to shift, and no clutch -- shifting and clutching on cars of that era required quite a bit of muscle. - Dave]

Notice the #2 streetcar?

It's got one of those fancy-schmancy 'people scoopers' on it, like this:

"Mellow as Moonlight"

If I was a drinkin' man, I would be sippin' some a that Cascade whiskey.

Casting against Type

I see the film "Somewhere in Georgia" is playing, where Ty Cobb stars surprisingly as a small-town Georgia baseball player who signs with the Detroit Tigers.


There's so much to look at in this photo. I especially enjoy seeing people going about their daily lives, not posing for a camera.

The movie theater sign says "All Next Week, Somewhere in Georgia". According to "Somewhere in Georgia", starring Ty Cobb, was filmed in the winter of 1916 and released in June 1917. Is the 1915 date on the photo in error?

[Do we know what "circa" means? - Dave]


One of the best urban pictures yet! Too much to take in at one sitting; The Opera House, that wonderful memorial, the traffic, those streetcars. I wonder what the tent was for in front of that fountain, just across from the Opera House.

Health Insurance

Almost 100 years later, the country is in a major pique over health Insurance and the Detroit Creamery had the answer all along. This maybe the best urban photograph yet, it certainly is the busiest.

Temporal Ache

Man, this is one of those Shorpy photos that really make me wish I had a time machine.

Motor city, for sure!

Not one single horse in view.

Not much left

About the only thing still remaining is the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, and even it has been moved about 300 feet from where it stood for 130 years.

An amazing photo.

Syndicate content is a vintage photography site featuring thousands of high-definition images. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago. Contact us | Privacy policy | Accessibility Statement | Site © 2023 Shorpy Inc.