Woodward Avenue, circa 1917

shorpy woodward

Shorpy — the online archive of vintage photos from the 1850s to the 1950s — ran this photo yesterday of downtown Detroit looking north/west on Woodward across Campus Martius.

Take a look at this photo full-size: I love the streetcars and early Model Ts, the incredible clothes, the electric signs and billboards. (Also, apropos of yesterday’s post, you can see the long-gone Old Andrew’s Hotel/Schubert Opera House, and a commenter on the post tips off that the Merrill Fountain in front of it is now in Palmer Park.)

Favorite details:

army uniform

The size of the pants on this Army uniform;


This girl’s boots;

stop and go

Early pedestrian traffic control devices;

health insurance

A comforting declaration from the dairy industry.

#campus martius#shorpy#woodward avenue


  1. Christina - November 13, 2009 @ 9:40 pm

    Amazing find. My favorite part is the typography on the signs and the millions of little tiny lightbulbs on them.

  2. thenighttrain - November 13, 2009 @ 11:28 pm

    I know! I wish I could see what it looked like at night.

  3. Joan Ginsberg - November 16, 2009 @ 11:38 am

    Amy, this picture is amazing! In fact, I had to press my nose almost to the computer monitor to verify that it WAS a picture. It’s so clean looking that I thought it was a drawing. Did someone restore it?

    Find more of these, please!

  4. Drew - November 20, 2009 @ 1:16 pm

    Wow that is incredible. Really gorgeous.

    Is it cynical to be REALLY CURIOUS what the modern-day photo in the same location would look like?

  5. admin - November 20, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

    I think it’s a reasonable question. I actually don’t think it would look too bad, considering the recent re-christening of Campus Martius park (the Christmas tree goes up this weekend and the ice rink opens) plus some glitzy late-20th century skyscrapers in the general vicinity.

    You probably wouldn’t see the foot traffic though.

    I’ll see if I can find something approximate!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published / Required fields are marked *