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In Hidden History of Detroit, discover the Motor City — before the Motor: a muddy port town full of grog shops, horse races, haphazard cemeteries and enterprising bootstrappers from all over the world. In these funny, warm and surprisingly personal essays, you’ll meet the argumentative French fugitive who founded the city, the tobacco magnate who haunts his shuttered factory, the gambler prankster millionaire who built a monument to himself, and the historians who created the story of Detroit as we know it: one of the oldest, rowdiest and most enigmatic cities in the Midwest.
Where to buy it
This list is not by any means complete, but it should get you started. It’s also a good idea to call ahead and make sure the book is in stock, especially if you plan to make a special trip.
Please consider supporting an independent local business! If you see the book somewhere I haven’t listed below, would you be so kind as to drop me a line?
Detroit Historical Museum
5401 Woodward Ave., Detroit
2311 Fort St., Lincoln Park
The Book Beat
26010 Greenfield, Oak Park
Locations at the Guardian Building, the Fisher Building, and the Renaissance Center
*NEW*: Order for your Kindle!
About Amy Elliott Bragg
Amy is a writer and editor. She blogs about early Detroit history at nighttraintodetroit.com. Before returning home to metro Detroit in 2009, she lived in Milwaukee, where she was senior editor of the arts and culture magazine ThirdCoast Digest (formerly VITAL Source).
By day she’s a content director. By evening and weekend she rambles around old cemeteries and works hard at old books. She has written about the history of the accordion for the Metro Times, has been invited more than once to nerd out about Detroit history on WDET’s The Craig Fahle Show, and occasionally/enthusiastically guides tours of historical interest for groups like Atlas Obscura, People for Palmer Park and the League of Adventurous Detroiters.
She lives in Ferndale with her husband and her dog. She is a graduate of Beloit College. Hidden History of Detroit is her first book. She likes cocktails.
What people are saying
“Writer Amy Elliott Bragg unearths the salt of the city with fresh prose that reads like Detroit pulp nonfiction.” — Tamara Warren, Detroit Free Press
“From Antoine Cadillac’s arrival on these pastoral shores, it would seem Detroit has always been facing calamities of one sort or another: conflagrations, invasions, epidemics, disorders and drunkenness. But Bragg renders this rocky history in graceful prose with a warm, first-person touch that lovingly lingers over some of its most unusual characters, those both immortalized in statuary and street names or simply forgotten over the ages.” — Michael Jackman, Metro Times
“I would say the glass of Canadian Club Classic 12 is optional, but really it’s not.” — Brian Mulloy, Michigan Essay
“Hidden History of Detroit contains many nice stories that are true and one picture of Lewis Cass that looks like Dennis when he forgets to cut his hair.” — Christina & Dennis Jacobs, Perfect Laughter
These corrections have been issued for the second printing, due out in January 2012.
In the introduction, I write that George Washington Stark was born in Corktown in 1884. Stark was born on the East Side.
In the chapter on the painting First State Election in Detroit, I write that Stevens T. Mason officially became Governor of the Territory after the death of Governor George B. Porter. In fact, Mason became Acting Governor of the Territory upon Porter’s death; he was not ”officially” the Governor until Michigan became a state in 1837, although he became Governor Elect after the state constitution was ratified in 1835.
In the chapter Rivals, a typographical error indicated that the battle of North Anna took place in 1854. This battle, being part of the Civil War, was fought in 1864.
In the chapter Burying the Boy Governor, I write that the State Capitol was moved to Lansing in 1872. The state capitol moved to Lansing in 1848. Construction began on the State Capitol building we know today in 1872.