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Detroit Opera House: 1900

Detroit Opera House: 1900

Circa 1900. "Opera House and Campus Martius." The leftmost section of a four-part panorama whose center includes the Detroit City Hall view posted yesterday. Photo by Lycurgus S. Glover, Detroit Publishing Co. View full size.


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Look ~ A Zebra!

The extraordinary detail exposed in these images is a great lens into what's going on within the finely grained detail of everyday life.

The cart in front of the "Mr. Richard Mansfield" marquis sign - the one that's drawn a crowd, including children, would appear to hold a Zebra. At least that's what it looks like within the pixellation limits of the image. An exotic, striped animal is the best I can make out - and a Zebra seems plausible.

A walkable, bike-able center of Detroit - how futuristic! The city's been struggling and spending billions in the post WW2 era to bring back this kind of density and detail to little avail.

Too bad that when cars allowed people to whir & whizz by at 30 mph or more, no one thought the refinement and detail of urban fabric was important any more. What once rewarded you as a citizen-pedestrian-saunterer at every turn, began to degrade you with subtracted empty storefronts, fountain removals, and missing teeth. Today you'd probably be arrested for bringing a Zebra to the curb for children to have a look.

Can't wait to put the 4 pics together into a panoramic view.

I also noticed Charlie Chaplin.

It also struck me that these guys had a resemblance to Stan and Ollie:

Henry V

Richard Mansfield was touring 'Henry V' in 1900 so it's either a bear for the crowd scenes in that crate or perhaps one of the dogs of war.

Remarkable pictures.

I've never seen, on Shorpy or elsewhere, pictures like these in which all the participants seem so alive. It's almost like a painting of a streetscape, in which the artist has spent time on the body language of each of the people. I suspect the secret is that the photo was taken on a holiday or Sunday. There aren't the dense business crowds so each person can be seen as an individual.

First class. Thank you.

Charlie Chaplin

prepares to cross the streetcar tracks!

The Foys

They probably never saw the inside of the opera house, but I'm willing to bet they played the Wonderland more than once.

Remains of the Day

The only thing in this picture that still exists is the Merrill Fountain, lower left. It was moved six miles up Woodward Avenue to Palmer Park, where it sits in deplorable condition.

Surprise sighting

I see two dogs on the sidewalk, both off leash. One is in front of the fountain. The other is just to the left of the Sparling's store.

All Gone Away

This was the second Opera House on this site, and is almost brand new in this picture, having been built in 1898 after the previous one was destroyed by fire. In those days Detroit's theater and entertainment district stretched off to the right past Wonderland up Monroe St. for several blocks.

Not a building in this picture is still standing. The only survivor is the fountain. It was moved out of downtown in 1926 to a park 6 miles to the north, where it has sat dry for many decades now, to facilitate - what else - automobile traffic.

The Opera House ended its days as a discount store. It, along with all of the other buildings on that block, was torn down in 1966.

Looks like Charlie Chaplin

is crossing the street to go see Dick Mansfield rock the House.

It must be an interesting animal in the wagon.

Eveyone in front of the Opera House is focused on the animal in the crate. It would be interesting to figure out just what is in there! Enlarging the image, patterns on the animal almost seems like a farm animal (like a cow). But if it is something non-exotic, why would they crate it instead of just leading like a horse?

The 45 star flag

Served its country from 1896 to 1908.


I'm impressed by the prevalence of bicycles in this date and time. It makes sense, now that I think about it. Horses and carriages were such a hassle for the casual trip around the corner to the store. If you weren't trying to carry too much a bike could take you anywhere a horse could in about the same amount of time.

I guess the thing that makes the bike seem out of place is the lack of provision for the bicycle in any of the pictures I've seen from the turn of the century. Things like bike racks, bicycle shops, tires, etc. I guess they were mostly sold out of department store basements or something so they weren't usually visible to the street camera.

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