Detroit history

Arts & Culture
4:48 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Detroit celebrates its 313th birthday next week

Credit Detroit Historical Society

Detroit turns 313 years old next week. The Detroit Historical Society is celebrating with a week's worth of programming beginning tomorrow. 

July 24th marks the day when the French explorer Antoine Cadillac landed on what would later become the city of Detroit.

Each day the group will host a different event- including storytelling, a classic car show, and film screenings.

Bob Sadler is with the Detroit Historical Society. He said celebrating the city is especially important now.

"And based on Detroit’s history of being a hard-working, very creative and entrepreneurial town, I have every reason to believe that we’re reinventing ourselves again," said Sadler. 

Some of the events include: Arsenal of Democracy, Detroit is America’s Motor City, The Streets of Old Detroit, and one of the newer exhibits, the Gallery of Innovation. 

The Detroit Historical Museum is in Midtown Detroit. All of the week's events are free.

– Reem Nasr, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Opinion
10:16 am
Fri June 13, 2014

Detroit pulled off a miracle during WWII; can it do the same thing today?

For months, we’ve been embroiled in Detroit’s bankruptcy and attempts to save what there is worth saving.

It is hard to pick up any national publication without finding stories about Detroit, few of them good. There are a spate of new book titles too, which mostly chronicle the city’s decline and fall.

Yet I’ve just been reading an utterly fascinating and inspiring new book about a time when Detroit really did save, or at least help save, the world.

The book, just published by Houghton Mifflin, is The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Ford Motor Company, and Their Epic Quest to Arm an America at War.

This is a book with characters larger and more bizarre than life. It tells the story of a Detroit-based triumph that the experts said was impossible. And every word in it is true.

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Stateside
6:32 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Why were Detroit smokers in the 1970s so loyal to Kool cigarettes?

Credit User: Goodiez / flickr

 

Why is it that one product will resonate with a group of consumers, while a similar one just can't quite catch on?

It's the sort of dilemma you can imagine Don Draper and Peggy Olson trying to figure out in an episode of "Mad Men."

Turns out, it was a dilemma for a major tobacco company: trying to figure out why Detroit smokers were so loyal to the competition – in this case, Kool cigarettes in the 1970s.

Steve Neavling is an investigative journalist who looked into this bit of tobacco history for Motor City Muckraker.

*Listen to the full interview above.

Opinion
11:20 am
Fri April 25, 2014

To really understand Detroit's problems, you should read this book

I flew to Florida early last month, and while in the air re-read from cover to cover the one indispensable book that explains as nothing else what really happened to Detroit.

Eighteen years ago, University of Pennsylvania historian Thomas Sugrue published a volume mind-blowing in its brilliance of analysis and depth of research.

The title, “The Origins of the Urban Crisis,” is somewhat misleading.

This really is the book on how Detroit was destroyed - and destroyed itself - over the last 70 years.

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Politics & Government
5:00 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Detroit's historic Brewster-Douglass housing projects will soon be gone

Former Brewster projects resident Colbert Prince at the demolition site, with a picture of himself and a childhood friend. Prince remembers the housing complex as a warm, tight-knit community.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s historic Brewster-Douglass housing projects will finally come all the way down sometime this spring.

The final stage of the ongoing demolition effort at the 18.5 acre site started Monday. Officials say it will last for another two months, while land restoration will continue throughout the summer.

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Stateside
4:42 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Why is Detroit lacking in French influence?

Hurlbut Memorial Gate Detroit MI
Andrew Jameson wikipedia.org

A few centuries ago it was not uncommon to hear Detroit referred to as "The Paris of the Midwest."

Just look at the history of Detroit and you can see that there are good reasons to link Detroit and France. The city’s early settlers were, by and large, French and French Canadian. But unlike, say, Quebec, Montreal, or New Orleans, there is no special "French feel" to Detroit beyond some French street names.

We wondered why Detroit's modern identity is so lacking in that French influence. For some insights, we turned to Guillaume Teasdale, a history instructor at the University of Windsor.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
4:36 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Preservationists hope to influence demolition decisions in Detroit

The historic Albert Kahn structure that once housed the Detroit News.
Credit Goldnpuppy Wikimedia Commons

As Michigan cities age and populations shrink, some say that demolishing  abandoned buildings is essential to reviving these cities and stabilizing neighborhoods.

Take Detroit, for instance. One estimate puts the number of buildings set to be demolished at 10,000.

But amid the demolition, is there room to preserve historic structures? How do we determine what should be torn down and what's worth rescuing and restoring?

To help answer those questions, Preservation Detroit and the Michigan Historic Preservation Network just completed a survey of six historic areas in Detroit. They're hoping to bring a preservationist's point of view to decisions about blight and demolition.

Emilie Evans is a preservation specialist with the Michigan Historic Preservation Network, and she joined us today.

*Listen to the story above.

Arts & Culture
4:31 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Want history, architecture and beheadings? Try Detroit's haunted bike tour

Outside Wheelhouse Detroit.
Mercedes Meija Michigan Radio

Wheelhouse Detroit, a bike shop right next to the Renaissance Center, puts on all sorts of guided bike tours through the city — tours of churches, urban agriculture, and painted murals. But for those looking for something, well, a little more creepy, the shop also offers a haunted bike tour that takes brave riders through cemeteries, ghostly spots, and long-gone homes with a murderous past.

The ride takes you to the cozy, produce-filled confines of Eastern Market down to St. Aubin Street, which, as the tour guides will tell you, was once a hot spot for the Purple Gang, a gang of bootleggers and hijackers who ran booze from Canada to Detroit. The gang, which got its start when Michigan banned alcohol in 1917, remained active up until the early 1930s.

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Arts & Culture
1:53 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

Detroit music landmark could be lost to I-94 expansion

The United Sound Systems building on Second Street in Detroit could be demolished in an I-94 expansion plan.
Credit DetroitWiki

The United Sound Systems building on Second Street in Detroit could be demolished in an I-94 expansion plan. The recording studio has a rich musical history dating back to the 1930s.

Artists such as Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Miles Davis and George Clinton have recorded there.

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Politics & Government
9:10 am
Thu September 6, 2012

Stateside: It's the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812

Birg Niagara. The tall ship can be seen during the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 celebration in Detroit Sept. 4-10, 2012. The ship will be outside the GM Ren Cen.
Flagship Niagara League Facebook

There's a huge party happening right now on Detroit's Riverfront!

It's the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812.

The War of 1812 was when Great Britain and the new United States of America slugged it out over trade, over the British habit of grabbing American ships and sailors and forcing them to serve King George (yes, THAT same King George we beat in the Revolutionary War!!)

The War of 1812 Bicentennial and Navy Week are being celebrated this week with events happening from downtown Detroit to Lake St Clair.

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Politics & Government
10:16 pm
Mon July 23, 2012

One of Detroit's defining moments, 45 years later

Detroit in July, 1967.
via Walter P. Reuther Library Wayne State University

Forty-five years ago this week, Detroit erupted into five days of racial violence that left 43 people dead, more than 450 injured, and thousands of buildings burned and looted.

Many people are still trying to get a handle on what that event really signified—and what to call it.

Dan Krichbaum clearly remembers the scene from 1967 as he drove from Ann Arbor to southwest Detroit, where he headed a small Methodist congregation.

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Offbeat
7:14 pm
Wed September 7, 2011

Divers search for 18th century cannon in Detroit River

Divers took to the Detroit River to try and bring up a long-submerged cannon Wednesday.

Detroit Police Underwater Recovery Team divers discovered the Revolutionary War-era cannon in July. It’s the fifth such cannon pulled out of the river since the 1980s.

Detroit Police say a British vessel capsized leaving Fort Detroit in 1796, losing five cannons.

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