Palmer Park, parties, and Chief Pontiac

EDIT (as of 10/24/11): Thanks to those of you who joined us for the tour on Saturday! We had a lovely time meeting lots of new people, telling historical tales and reveling in the perfect fall weather. If you are looking for the historical photos of the old Log Cabin that I mentioned, you can find them here.

Hi pals. I have some neat posts in the hopper for you. Less “book book book!” and more of the old-timey, ramble-y, nerdy stuff you come here for. Next week is going to be a good week for reading, so clear some space on your calendar.

Meanwhile: Housekeeping!

1. FRIENDLY REMINDER: Palmer Park tour tomorrow

I had my tour orientation last weekend and let me tell you: this tour is pretty special. I will be stationed at the first tour stop, the Log Cabin, talking about Senator Thomas W. Palmer, his wife Lizzie, and the history of the park itself. But then the tour moves on to the historic apartment district that winds along the perimeter of the park, and especially if you are an architecture lover, it is a fantastic neighborhood to see on foot, first-hand.

Back in the 1920s, the Palmer Park district was located right on the interurban railway, running from the riverfront all the way to Pontiac. Full of cafes and bars, restaurants and theaters, Palmer Park attracted a diverse, vibrant, and often wealthy array of residents. The apartments, mostly commissioned between the 1920s and 1960s, display a variety of architectural styles, from an imposing Harry Potter-y English Tudor lodge to blocks of ostentatious Moorish designs and sleek, modern Art Deco lines. There’s a beautiful former Jewish temple back there and a sneaky Albert Kahn apartment building, commissioned by Walter Owen Briggs for Briggs Manufacturing Company workers who were having trouble finding apartments that would allow children.

Maybe you had relatives who lived in this neighborhood. Maybe YOU lived in this neighborhood! My dad had premarital counseling with his Rabbi in this neighborhood. It’s living history and it’s well-worth seeing.

Register here or in person tomorrow. (Tours run every 15 minutes between 12 and 2 p.m.) The tour fee includes a beautiful souvenir book, cider and donuts, and afterward there are hayrides and a bonfire.


These people aren’t invited.*

But you are! I made a whole page about it over here that you can share with your mom, your friends, and your favorite media personalities.

There’s a Facebook page, too. So it’s officially official. It’s free, it’s November 9, it’s at the Historical Museum,¬†and all you have to do is show up. For cake. And hilarity.

*Clockwise from top left: Gabriel Richard; Emily Virginia Mason; Silas Farmer; Hiram Walker; Hazen Pingree; Clara Ward.


Thanks for making it through the housekeeping. Now take 15 minutes to nerd out with Brian Mulloy of Michigan Essay who gave this talk about Chief Pontiac, “Detroit’s Original Badass,” at the TEDx Detroit conference last month.

Minutes after Brian started speaking, someone tweeted at me: “Uh, this guy is the boy version of you.”

To be frank I am kind of jealous that I didn’t come up with a talk like this first. It’s great. Enjoy it.

#chief pontiac#detroit historical society#hidden history of detroit#my book#palmer park#palmer park apartment#tours