July 7, 2011 by Amy Elliott Bragg
“Detroit has no street signs,” reported the Detroit Post on August 20, 1883. “… That is, no signs with the names of the streets painted upon them.
“But,” the article continues, ”Detroit has signs of streets.”
OMG, VINTAGE DETROIT ROAD REPAIR JOKES? Bring it:
A rough, rotting, unrepaired pavement full of holes, such as jars and rattles the life out of a fine carriage to go over it faster than a walk, is a certain sign of a Detroit street. A lake of thin, slippery mud, caused by excessive sprinkling, sending up a continual stream of disease-breeding reek, spoiling the bottoms of ladies’ dresses and covering the polished shoes of gentlemen with filth, is a sure sign of a Detroit street. A driveway, nearly half of which is obstructed by piles of brick and building material, and half of the rest by loading and unloading wagons, is another sign of a Detroit street. A passage for teams where everybody digs up the pavement at pleasure to fix a gas or water pipe and puts it down again so as to leave either a hillock or a hole, is another sign of a Detroit street. Utter darkness of nights for two to four blocks, with nobody knows how many holes, piles of rubbish, or other obstructions there may be in the way, so that he has to depend solely upon the intelligence of his horse, is a very common sign of Detroit streets. And finally, to meet with a lost stranger every two or three blocks who stops one to inquire his way, is another continual sign of Detroit streets.
I think that last sentence is the only one that does not still ring true. Kind of poignant, is it not?
I say that through tears I cried while laughing at this.
Reprinted in The Electrician and electrical engineer, Vol. 4.