AB Woodward’s Plan For Detroit

September 3, 2014 Posted by Digital Traveler


Grand Circus Park aerial 1920 v3

Digital Traveler Fall 2014 Catalog On Etsy

August 25, 2014 Posted by Digital Traveler

German American Bank est 1853

August 22, 2014 Posted by Digital Traveler


German American Bank 1911


German American Bank (est 1853) Griswold in Detroit c1911.

From 2011 comment.
That Model T Ford is a rare 1911 "Torpedo Runabout" from about the middle of 1911. Early models had a square gas tank which was superseded by the round one on this car. Not all that popular when they were new, they are rarely seen and treasured by collectors today. Possibly the sportiest Model T made. Most 1911 Ts were painted a very dark, almost black, blue. It would not be until the 1914 Fords that you could get any color so long as it was black. Red, green, and grey were common in the very early Model Ts.

The First State Bank Building is a four-story, flat-roofed bank building with a steel frame faced with limestone. The building was designed by Albert Kahn and erected in 1924-25. First State Bank began life in 1871 as the "German American Bank" with offices on Larned; the bank moved at least twice more before building this structure

The main entrance of the building is surrounded with carved marble depicting urns, animals, and foliage. The building is located at the corner of Griswold and Lafayette Streets, and has decorative facades facing both streets. Each facade has three-story Ionic columns supporting the attic story, on the upper story, double-hung windows are grouped in pairs, separated by elaborate plaques. A parapet runs across the roofline

From Detroit1701.org
John S. Gray became a prominent Detroit businessman and ran or owned several firms in the city. As was common for businessman in that late Nineteenth Century era, he also performed civic service and was a member of the city’s library board. By the end of the Nineteenth Century, although a Scotsmen, he was president of the German-American Bank

John S. Gray’s nephew was Alexander Y. Malcomson, a Detroit coal dealer who had known Henry Ford for many years. I believe they had both worked at the Detroit Engine Works on Atwater Street.
would be successful in the vehicle business. By 1900, Henry Ford was running the Henry Ford Company but the bankers who invested in that firm were very unhappy with him. By 1902, those investors brought in Henry Leland to look over the business. Eventually the bankers forced Ford out of the company and then Leland created the Cadillac Motor Company from what had been Ford’s firm. In about 1902, Malcomson and Henry Ford formed a partnership to manufacturing cars. Lacking capital they had to buy component parts from suppliers, parts that Ford then assembled into cars. Very quickly Ford found himself owing a tremendous amount to the Dodge Brothers who supplied parts. He had no hope of paying those bills so the future of this firm looked bleak. Malcomson proposed that a corporation be created using $100,000 to be obtained from investors. It was not easy to find investors. Henry Ford did not have a great record as an entrepreneur. Malcomson convinced his uncle, John S. Gray, to put up $10,500 for a 10.5 percent share of the new Ford Motor Company. Gray agreed and, on July 16, 1903, legal papers were drawn up by Horace Rackham for the incorporation of the Ford Motor Company. This was accomplished in the offices of Malcomson’s coal firm then located where Hart Plaza is now located. A state of Michigan Historic Marker commemorates that site, not far from where Antoine Cadillac arrived two centuries previously. John S. Gray was elected president of the Ford Motor Company with Henry Ford serving as Vice-President.


McGraw Building 1908

From 2011 notes: On the left side of the building is Malcomson Coal. Alexander Y. Malcomson was the Coal King of Detroit and he was one of the few people who was crazy enough to back Henry Ford in 1902. After he had become successful, Ford eventually squeezed Malcomson out of the auto business – but it all started with coal money.

Non-Human Bones Found In Historic Detroit Building?

July 31, 2014 Posted by Digital Traveler


Via Detnews

Detroit — Crime scene investigators are on the scene of a historic downtown apartment building after bones were found in the walls Thursday morning, police said.

It was later determined that the bones were non-human.


The Ashley was originally developed as the Henry Clay Hotel in 1917, then converted into The Milner Hotel in the 1930s, which closed in October 2012.



Read the full story of Henry Clay Hodges (here) within this blog.




We Will Always Have Detroit As Paris c1920

July 30, 2014 Posted by Digital Traveler

Detroit, hard to believe it was designed as Paris, European, Cosmpolitan, Retro but cutting edge. This is the man on the edge c1920.


Maps of An Evolving Detroit

July 29, 2014 Posted by Digital Traveler






1807: Unhappiness with the leadership that went on to form a panel that planned the layout of Detroit.

To Thomas Jefferson from John Harvey, 1 September 1807

Sir, City of Detroit, 1st. September, 1807.

In our former certificate annexed to a Copy of the Petition of the Inhabitants of this Territory for the removal of Governor Hull and Chief Judge Woodward it was stated, that the Original of said Petition was then open for further subscriptions and would soon be transmitted.

Intelligence quickly afterwards reached this place of the atrocious outrage committed on the American frigate the Chesepeake. The Citizens constituting the Republican or American interest here, felt but one sentiment, that of avenging the material insult at any hazard and at any sacrafice. They saw the importance of a perfect unanemity of all parties on an occasion of such magnitude. They went indeed so far as to be willing to bury for the present their local grievances and to rally under the existing officers, trusting to what had already been done to make known their    , or to future opppertunity to pursue further measures for redress. At the instance of government for a general meeting, they assembled and passed Resolutions, which you have probably received.—

Sorry were the citizens to find a small party, calling themselves federalists and (sad to relate) the particular friends of Governor Hull refuse to unite with the people in the expression of sentiments on so momentous an occasion. This was unexpected, altho’ these persons had been long known as ardent friends of the British government, and the open and intimate associates of British Officers. It was thought they might possess some sense of national honor. But they had the impudence to insult the assembly of the people, whose insults the citizens had too much magnanimity to notice in their Resolves.—

Notwithstanding this conduct of the Governors friends, the Citizens in pursuance of their wish for unanimity and concert of action in circumstances so important, deemed it their duty and an Act of patriotism to suspend the Petition a Season. The paper, therefore, was by general consent called in and laid up.

Not knowing when an opportunity will offer, that the Petition may again, consistently with sound discretion and duty under present circumstances; be opened for further subscription, it is deemed advisable, that the Original should be forwarded at this time in the condition it was at the period of its suspension.—And this is judged the more necessary, as in case of real danger there seems a propriety that the People of the frontier should have men to lead them, to whom a share of confidence may be attached, and for whom some affection may exist.—

In what is now transmitted, you have the sentiments of nine tenths of the inhabitants of this Territory. For it is firmly believed, that if the situation of public affairs had remained unchanged, and the Petition unsuspended, or indeed if it were now to be re-opened for signing,—full that proportion of names would appear. None are ignorant of the reality of our grievances; none would refuse to sign for redress, but from interested or political causes. When the Petition was first framed and made known, violent denunciations were issued against any who should sign it,—nothing less than total ruin in office, reputation and property was threatened;—and even assassination was talked of. A few might have been deterred by these menaces; but none others would have witheld their signatures, except the immediate dependents and courtiers of the Governor and the whole band of Anglo-federalists (which is small) who to a man are as warmly his friends as they are bitter and implacable foes of your political character and the present administration of the General Government.—

We are sorry, Sir, to have occasion for these remarks. But we feel, that it would be criminal any longer to withold the knowledge of them from you.—It is a fact, both mortifying and alarming at the present juncture, that the Governor has for a long period past thrown himself into the hands of a faction, dissolute, corrupt and unprincipled, deadly foes of republican government and known friends of the British,—styling themselves federalists, and of the rankest sort, tyrants in principle and in practice,—despisers and revilers of the people,—and to say the least, extremely doubtful in point of patriotism. We are not assured, that they would not unite with a foreign Agressor or with a domestic traitor, if circumstances and prospects were to favor.—With such men, the Governor exclusively associates, on Such he bestows all his favors,—to such he confides the principal places of trust in his gift. With them he feasts and gambles to an extreme,—with them he joins in casting insulting taunts of the “self-stiled patriots,” as he calls the friends of republicanism and the country.—Such men at this moment command the effective force of our militia, and by such men are we to be led to the field if occasion should require;—men in whom there is no public confidence, and for whom no respect or affection exists.—Let one of them be described, as an example, by a reference to facts well known in this country.—

Elijah Brush draws nearly all his income as an attorney from Montreal and the Canadas generally. He is the Son-in-law of the British Colonel Commandant of the Militia on the shore opposite this Territory. He is brother-in-law of the noted half-Indian; Captain McKee, a British pensioner, and now the British agent to the Indians in this region, over whom he (McKee) has immense sway,—a most violent and cruel foe of the Americans,—the instigator of Wars, and the murderer of hundreds men, women and children,—among whom was the late Captain Hartshorn of the United States Army.—

But the relationship of Brush to such men would be nothing, were he not known to be their bosom friend, their intimate associate, the advocate of their government, the participater of their counsels, and they of his. With them he has a sure refuge at any moment of passing danger, whether from the Indians or the British,—which indeed he keeps as no secret.—This man was Agent for the British at the late Treaty of Swan Creek, where he acted against the United States, and caused no little detriment. His tyrannical principles and conduct in private life, as well as in every public character he sustains we will not describe. Suffice it to say, he is universally detested.—

Yet Elijah Brush is made Colonel Commandant of the flower of the Militia of Michigan,—is Treasurer of the Territory, and Attorney General,—the bosom friend of the Governor, his most confidential and constant adviser, the reputed mover of all his actions, and author of all his measures,—insomuch that it has become a usual remark on both shores, that Brush is the real Governor of Michigan. He was principal adviser (with two or three others of similar character) in the late councils with the Indians at Detroit for the purchase of their lands,—while the men of the country, influential with the Indians and friendly to the United States, were neglected. He has been, and is now the principal leader and overseer of the defensive works at this place. in the planning of which his private interest was not forgotten, tho’ at an increased public expense,—and in conducting the work a world of wanton abuse and insults have been heaped upon the Citizen’s laborers, particularly the friends of American and republicans.—

Not only in the military, but in the civil department, have men of the same stamp been preferred, We might describe at length the Cheif Judge of the District Court of Huron and Detroit, George McDougall, whose appointment to that place astonished the Territory.—But we forbear to swell this communication, already too lengthy, by any more personal descriptions.—

Such are the men in the confidence of our Governor,—and such is the unhappy situation of the people at this juncture.—Until the recent alarming transaction of the British, these men, with the Governor and his family, were in habits of the closest intimacy with the British officers, not excepting McKee himself frequently interchanging visits, and feasting and carousing together, both on the American and British territories, in a manner truly indecent and extremely mortifying to every person possessing a Spark of regard for the honor of the United States. If credible information may be relied on, all in the connection have been offered and do expect an asylm in case of extremity of war.—

The partial and extraordinary behaviour of the Governor and the whole connection, during the trial, last year, of the British officers who had committed a most daring outrage upon our citizens, can never be forgotten by the people of this country.—

It would be endless, Sir, to narrate all the unhappy circumstances and facts, which croud upon our reflection.—Who, Sir, can serve with any pleasure or satisfaction under the command of such Men? Who can march to battle cheerfully, or indeed without sensations the most gloomy and painful, under leaders of this description,—leaders distrusted and detested, inimical to the principles of the American government,—and with a Snug retreat ready to receive them in extremity, from whence they may look forth and smile at the distruction of those who have no mercy to expect either from the Savage or from the Britons.

We rest assured in the persuasion that your Justice, benevolence and patriotism will order relief for the good people of this country,—and that it will not be retarded by their forbearance to pursue further measures at present.


  John Harvey } Majority of the 1st. Chamber of the City Council of Detroit  
  Pierre Desnoyer
  Isaac Jones } Majority of the 2nd Chamber Do. Do. Do.  
  John Gentle






DNA: RG 46—Records of the U.S. Senate.







Retail Bookends of Grand Circus Park

July 28, 2014 Posted by Digital Traveler


Today we highlight two retail icons whose Headquarters served as architectural bookends on Adams just west of Woodward at Grand Circus Park.


The Kresge Building on Adams and Woodward at Grand Circus Park c1914

The Dewey Ice Cream and Oyster House

The Dewey Ice Cream and Oyster House was located at the Northwest corner of Adams at Woodward in 1871.

The Fyfe Store.

The Fine Arts Building at Adams and Grand Circus Park


Henry Clay Hodge Builds Early An Emerging Detroit

July 27, 2014 Posted by Digital Traveler

Henry Clay Hodge left a legacy of Detroit improvements.




The Palmer Family Builds First Brick Store In Detroit 1820.

July 25, 2014 Posted by Digital Traveler


The Palmer Family comes to the US and Detroit. History of Detroit and Michigan by Silas Farmer. The Palmer family had a prominent role in the real estate and commercial development of Detroit and especially its financial district.

This is the SW corner of Griswold and Fort Streets in Detroit. The home of John Palmer est 1829, Current location of Greater Penobscot Building c1870.
The tower portion of the Penobscot Building has stood the former location of the Moffat Building since 1928.


The Palmer and Moffat block c1829


View of houses at the corner of Griswold and Fort during winter; church spires in background; label on back: "View of Fort Street, south side, from the corner of Griwold street to Third Street. The house in the foreground stands on the site of the Moffat Block. It was built by John Palmer in 1829. At that time James Williams built a large brick house adjoing the Palmer place on the south, which was on Ground covered by the southern end of the Moffat Block. Next beyond the Palmer House stood the home of Judge C. I. Walker and next came the house of James Penny. The mansion of David Thompson with its fine grounds, floral garden and fountain stood on the southeast corner of Fort and Shleby. On the southwest corner of Fort and Shelby was the home of Thomas Palmer. Adjoining it was the home of John Owen. The First Congregational Church, erected and dedicated in 1854 and vacated in 1891, stood at the southwest corner of Wayne & Fort.


The spire was removed and the building became the home of the Detroit Journal and a new section was added to the front. In the distance at the extreme right is the Fort Street Presbyterian Church, finished and dedicated in 1855 and although twice damaged by fire it is still one of the most attractive churches of Detroit. At the extreme left the spire of St. Paul's Episcopal church rises from the northeast corner of Congress and Shelby streets. This was dedicated in 1855. All three of these churches were under construction at the same time."


Palmer Block becomes the Moffat Block and the beginning of the Financial District in Detroit


Detroit 1800-1820. Detroit Burns, AB Woodward Plans A Future Detroit

July 25, 2014 Posted by Digital Traveler


  • 1802: February 23.  The board of trustees for the newly created city of Detroit adopts a fire code that requires all residents and business owners to sweep their chimneys often.  It also provides buckets and ladders to residents, who are required to turn out to fight any fires.
  • 1804: The United States opens a land office in Detroit.
  • 1805: Michigan Territory is separated from the Indiana Territory, with Detroit as its capital.  William Hull is made territorial governor.
  • 1805: June 11. Detroit is destroyed by fire when baker John Harvey allegedly sets his barn ablaze with ashes from his pipe.  Territorial Governor William Hull and Judge Augustus Woodward decide to build a planned community.  Woodward creates a street plan based on the design of the nation's new capital, Washington, D.C. (Read More)

  • 1806: The first post office opens in Detroit.
  • 1806: September 13. The city of Detroit is incorporated by the Michigan Territorial governor. Solomon Sibley is appointed as the first mayor.
  • 1807: Judge Woodward rules that all enslaved persons, except those owned by British subjects, are to be freed.
  • 1807: In a treaty with Native Americans, the United States purchases much of southeastern Michigan for 2 cents an acre, for a total of about $10,000.
  • 1808: Father Gabriel Richard starts a school at Springwells (present site of Fort Wayne) for both Native American and white children.
  • 1809: Father Gabriel Richard brings the first printing press to Michigan.  His newspaper, called The Michigan Essay or Impartial Observer, fails, but he prints a spelling book for students at his school.
  • 1809: February 24. The Territorial Governing Council repeals the 1806 incorporation of Detroit as a city.
  • 1810: Detroit’s population is 770, and the Michigan Territory has 4,762 residents.
  • 1812: The United States declares war against Britain over their interference with American shipping and westward expansion.  It is known as the War of 1812.
  • 1812: August 16. General Hull surrenders Detroit to a small British force supported by local Native Americans.  The British hold Detroit for a year.
  • 1813: September 10. Captain Oliver Hazard Perry and his fleet defeat the British during the Battle of Lake Erie.  The British retreat from Detroit two weeks later.
  • 1815: Looking for a way to reward veterans of the War of 1812 with free land, the United States sends surveyor Edward Tiffin north into present day Oakland County.  He reports that most of the land is swampy and uninhabitable, which hinders settlement in Michigan.
  • 1815: Detroit, with a population of 850, is incorporated as a city.  In addition to homes, the city now has churches, businesses, shops and schools.  It also has a university – the Catholipistemiad, which later develops into present day University of Michigan.
  • 1816: Construction of a road to the small settlement at Pontiac along a former Native American trail is started.  It becomes today’s Woodward Avenue.
  • 1817: The city’s first regularly published newspaper, the Detroit Gazette, is published in both French and English.
  • 1817: August 13. President James Monroe visits Detroit, the first U.S. President to do so.  Monroe city and county are named in his honor.
  • 1818: Walk-in-the-Water is the first steamboat on the Great Lakes. It makes water travel from Buffalo, New York to Detroit easier.
  • 1818: July 6. The first public land auction in Michigan takes place in Detroit.  The average price for land is $4 an acre.
  • 1819: Detroit’s population is 1,100.
  • 1819 – 1822: Lewis Cass negotiates a series of treaties with Native Americans that opens up Michigan for American settlement, but limits Indian rights.
  • 1820: The first brick building in Detroit is built by shop owner Thomas Palmer. (Read More)