The Free Press Building

I’m not really the kind of Detroit kid that does a lot of scrambling around in old buildings, for better or worse, and not for lack of trying — it was pretty much my greatest dream (besides greatness itself) when I was seventeen. Since then I’ve done a lot of personal tail-chasing about Detroit’s ruins. Ultimately I’ve accepted the mesmerizing reality of places like Michigan Central and the Packard Plant, even though I still have a (sometimes kind of nasty and spiteful) knee-jerk reaction to the national fixation on the city’s decay.

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The Ford Piquette Plant (… Opens Today!)

In 1908, the first Model T rolled off the assembly line in Detroit at the Ford Motor Company’s Piquette Plant. The plant, which opened in 1904, was only open for a few years — in 1910, Ford moved production to its bigger and more famous Highland Park Factory — but history pushed forward pretty irrevocably in that skinny brick building at Milwaukee Junction.

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Tuesdays with General Friend Palmer: Goose Yokes

The remarkable story of a French immigrant, swindled into coming to America, finding himself in Detroit, starting a general store, and selling some legendary goose yokes. Also marbles.

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The Captain

This blog’s grandfather is Captain Frederick Pabst.

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City of Destiny

The story of Detroit historian George W. Stark, and the Detroit history book he wrote during World War II.

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Thomas W. Palmer, and his Park

A rustic log cabin, a massive Italianate marble fountain and an 18th-century bell from Spain at Senator Thomas W. Palmer’s park.

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It’s Pulaski Day

We’re taking a brief leave of absence, but not before paying brief tribute to a Polish-American hero.

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Fridays with General Friend Palmer: For cash or peltry

“Interesting facts gleaned from the columns of the Detroit Gazette of 1820-1822”
The old Detroit Gazette was an insignificant sheet both in size and appearance. The Democratic Free Press that followed it was a trifle larger, and a decided improvement, as regards typography, paper and contents.
… [The gazette] was fairly patronized by the merchants and others with advertisements.
I have a file of the paper from July 21, 1820 to June 28, 1822, from which I make some extracts … They will serve to show the difference in many things between then and now.
Their issue July 21, 1820, has this notice:
Quills, etc: – Just received at this office. Also Flutes, Fifes, Flute Preceptors, Fife do, Blank Music Books, Record Books, etc.
Paul Clapp has on hand, and will constantly keep for sale, at wholesale and retail, a large assortment of Hats. Beaver, Castor, Roram, Napt and Felt. Also – Ladies elegant Beaver Hats, with trimmings complete.
The whole will be sold very cheaf for CASH or PELTRY.

beaver hats

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