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Forgotten Detroit

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Detroiters know their history well. Founded in 1701 by Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the city subsisted on a variety of industries: fur trading, stove building, and, of course, the automobile. Names such as Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh resonate in Detroiters' common memory. Detroit's meteoric rise during the 20th century established the city as an influential leader in Detroiters know their history well. Founded in 1701 by Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the city subsisted on a variety of industries: fur trading, stove building, and, of course, the automobile. Names such as Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh resonate in Detroiters' common memory. Detroit's meteoric rise during the 20th century established the city as an influential leader in commerce, culture, and religion. This growth spawned the development of numerous businesses, organizations, and institutions, many now forgotten. Albert Kahn left his indelible mark. Mary Chase Stratton created a new art form. And Henry Ford II changed the course of his family legacy. Forgotten Detroit delves into the wellspring of history to retell some of these lesser-known stories within Detroit's rich heritage.


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Detroiters know their history well. Founded in 1701 by Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the city subsisted on a variety of industries: fur trading, stove building, and, of course, the automobile. Names such as Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh resonate in Detroiters' common memory. Detroit's meteoric rise during the 20th century established the city as an influential leader in Detroiters know their history well. Founded in 1701 by Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the city subsisted on a variety of industries: fur trading, stove building, and, of course, the automobile. Names such as Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh resonate in Detroiters' common memory. Detroit's meteoric rise during the 20th century established the city as an influential leader in commerce, culture, and religion. This growth spawned the development of numerous businesses, organizations, and institutions, many now forgotten. Albert Kahn left his indelible mark. Mary Chase Stratton created a new art form. And Henry Ford II changed the course of his family legacy. Forgotten Detroit delves into the wellspring of history to retell some of these lesser-known stories within Detroit's rich heritage.

30 review for Forgotten Detroit

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tim Martin

    Another good installment in the Images of America series, I liked the format of this one, a series of chapters each covering very roughly a twenty-year span. The book doesn’t waste time getting to the photographs, with a single page (and not even really a whole page) introduction. It does a good job of setting the tone of the book, noting that “[e]very day Detroiters drive through vintage neighborhoods unaware of the local luminaries who once lived there: automobile barons, retail magnets, future Another good installment in the Images of America series, I liked the format of this one, a series of chapters each covering very roughly a twenty-year span. The book doesn’t waste time getting to the photographs, with a single page (and not even really a whole page) introduction. It does a good job of setting the tone of the book, noting that “[e]very day Detroiters drive through vintage neighborhoods unaware of the local luminaries who once lived there: automobile barons, retail magnets, future celebrities” and “[p]edestrians stroll past downtown monuments and historical markers without recognizing their significance – old automobile plants, storied places of worship, incomparable shopping venues, the homes of legions of working people.” Chapter one, “Coming of Age,” covered the longest stretch of time of any chapters in the book (1860 to 1899). Highlights include Second Baptist Church on Monroe Street (from a 1952 photo, founded in 1836 when 13 former slaves were unwelcome at the all-white First Baptist Church, with the first black religious congregation in Detroit and functioning as a final link along the Underground Railroad), the magnificent Ste. Anne de Detroit Catholic Church (the eighth and current church home, was founded originally in 1701, the second oldest continuously operating Catholic congregation in the United States), a photo of Charles B. King driving a very early car (who on March 6, 1896 became the first to drive an automobile on the streets of Detroit), and a great one of a fire truck in a parade celebrating the end of World War I (one of several photos that didn’t quite adhere to the time line set by the chapter names but welcome nonetheless). Chapter two, “Building Anew,” covered the span 1900-1919. Favorites include a photo of the Piquette plant (which survives today and according to the book is being renovated into a museum, the building famous for the production of Ford’s earliest models, A, B, C, F, K, N, R, and S and was also the building where the model T prototype was first developed), the now demolished Detroit Times building (the paper halted publication in 1960 and the building was later demolished after several years of use by the Detroit News, whose parent company had bought the Detroit Times), of the Red Arrows on parade (also known as the 32nd Division of the U.S. Army, consisting of National Guard units from Michigan and Wisconsin, that fought in World War I, were part of the army of occupation of Germany until April 1919, and later fought in the southwest Pacific against the Japanese), and two photos of women working in industry during World War I. Chapter three, “Dreams and Despair,” covered 1920-1939. Highlights to me were photos of the busy interior of the National Bank of Detroit on opening day (March 24, 1933…so many hats!), an interesting artist’s conception of the original 1924 plan for the Detroit Civic Center (originally with a domed structure that would serve as a war memorial and conference center and a “graceful colonnade” that would line the river), the fact that stores once “entertained the public with parades” (a photo showing a Crowley’s parade and mentioned Hudson’s had parades as well), a really great undated aerial photo of the streets radiating south from Grand Circus Park (the “absence of expressways in this image demonstrates downtown’s seamless relationship to its surrounding neighborhoods”), a just fantastic labeled photo of a bootlegger operation run by the Purple Gang (“a predominately Jewish organized crime group”), another great photo of female members of the Detroit Police Department (showing their service revolvers in a c. 1930 photo), a tragic photo of an angry mob protesting the hiring of two black firefighters in 1938, a hungry crowd competing for a piece of fruit at the office of the Detroit Peoples News in 1931, several photos of an antiwar rally in 1936 (apparently people opposed both war and fascism and saw no contradiction there), a photo of an anti-Nazi protest in front of the German consulate on Woodward Avenue in 1938, several photos relating to Pewabic Pottery (something I had never heard of), a touching photo of Lou Gehrig’s final day of baseball (May 5, 1939 at Navin Field)…such a great chapter, probably some of the best photos I have seen in any of the Images of America series so far. Chapter four, “Toil and Grit,” covers 1940-1959, opening with a grim discussion of the many racial problems in Detroit (such as the “hate strikes” in the 1940s when “angry white workers [protested] being forced to work alongside blacks”). Another great chapter, the reader is treated to photos of among other things Mickey Rooney, Edsel, and Henry Ford (together in 1940 on the occasion of the new movie Young Thomas Edison), Pauline Revere (real name Elane Summers, who in Revolutionary War clothes rode a horse and carried a placard and handed out pamphlets protesting military conscription), burning and overturned cars during an insurrection in the summer of 1943, two photos of Italian POWs (during World War II Fort Wayne at Jefferson Avenue and Livernois Avenue was a POW camp for captured Italian soldiers), a photo of a Chinatown celebration of V-J Day (not noted but one can see the symbol for Nationalist China), a photo of captured Nazi war paraphernalia on display at the J.L. Hudson Company store, and a photo of Frank Lloyd Wright supervising the last details on the Turkel House, the “only Wright structure in Detroit” and according to the caption currently being restored. Chapter five, “Hope and Tragedy,” covering 1960-1980, is next. We get among many, many photos one of several businesses sharing a single building in an undated photo (including Pic-A-Pearl, “where customers could chose a pearl from a live oyster to be set in a personally selected piece of jewelry”), the Manoogian Mansion on Dwight Street (the official mayor residence; Detroit and New York are the only two major U.S. cities with official mayor residences we learn from the caption), a now demolished building that was the birthplace of Charles Lindbergh (and in the 1962 photo a Wayne State University frat house), an out of makeup photo of Bob McNea (who portrayed Bozo the Clown from 1959 to 1967; interestingly “the Bozo character was franchised by its creator as opposed to being syndicated nationally”), and a photo of Martin Luther King Jr. on June 23, 1963 leading a poor people’s march down Woodward Avenue. Chapter six, “Revival,” covers 1981-2009. Favorite phots include the Michigan Soldiers and Sailors Monument (though for some reason the photo in this chapter dates from 1929) and a photo of the street front view of Café D’Mongo, which is modeled after a speakeasy and “is only open 12 hours a week and does virtually no marketing,” though overall the chapter doesn’t include many photos. One of the best of the Images of America series, it seemed to show far more crowd scenes and portraits of everyday people than most of the series I have read so far, as well as more famous historic figures.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joan

    This book tells about Detroit's past. I enjoyed reading about the many historical sites in Detroit and the many buildings and people that influenced America. It tells about people who changed Detroit with their power like Ford, Kahn and Stratton. I loved reading about the buildings and the causes Detroiters were involved in. One person I thought should have been included was Soupy Sales who anyone who grew up in the 50's remembers. As the author mentions Milky, the Clown, Soupy should be in the This book tells about Detroit's past. I enjoyed reading about the many historical sites in Detroit and the many buildings and people that influenced America. It tells about people who changed Detroit with their power like Ford, Kahn and Stratton. I loved reading about the buildings and the causes Detroiters were involved in. One person I thought should have been included was Soupy Sales who anyone who grew up in the 50's remembers. As the author mentions Milky, the Clown, Soupy should be in the book too.

  3. 4 out of 5

    dejah_thoris

    Another great book from this series that educates through photos and captions. I hate to admit that I forgot that Detroit burned and had to be rebuilt but I loved seeing all the photos from the 1900s through the 1950s. As before, this is one of the few series I recommend reading as an ebook because with most tablets you can click on any image and zoom on details where-ever you please. Once again, super thanks to whichever editor decided to include such nice high-resolution images in the ebook. T Another great book from this series that educates through photos and captions. I hate to admit that I forgot that Detroit burned and had to be rebuilt but I loved seeing all the photos from the 1900s through the 1950s. As before, this is one of the few series I recommend reading as an ebook because with most tablets you can click on any image and zoom on details where-ever you please. Once again, super thanks to whichever editor decided to include such nice high-resolution images in the ebook. They definitely make the publication.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kathyanngallagher

    Lots of great pictures from perhaps a nicer time in the Detroit area. A whole lot of history and some very interesting "FYI's" throughout this short read. Some familiar faces and some introductions to people who changed the course of this southeast area.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marnie

    interesting, but rather all over the board as far as Detroit history. lots of typos, which is distracting.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lance Michaelson

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lloyd d. Marchant

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sergio D Salvador

  9. 5 out of 5

    JoAnn

  10. 5 out of 5

    John Crissman

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steve Baker

  12. 5 out of 5

    Denice

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sheryl Eby

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elisha

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alan Naldrett

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marie

  17. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  18. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

  19. 4 out of 5

    Denise

  20. 4 out of 5

    Clifford

  21. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn Bishop

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Krajenke

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tara Curren

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mimi Bear

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Gootee

  26. 4 out of 5

    Peter

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nikki Charbonneau

  28. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Owen

  29. 5 out of 5

    Trish

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kristine

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