Selector: Clayton Hayes
Though Detroit was founded in 1701, it can be argued that it did not develop into a city in the modern sense until after the American Civil War. As with many American cities, the Industrial Revolution and, later, the auto industry sparked a period of growth that shaped Detroit into the city we know today. This guide provides a glimpse into that process, highlighting materials on the physical city itself including architecture, the city's layout, and Detroit's history.
The Virtual Motor City Collection is a collection of photographs from the Reuther Library's archive that were taken by Detroit News photographers between the late 19th Century and the 1980s. These photographs provide a glimpse into Detroit's past, showing the city as it has grown and changed through the decades. We have mapped a small fraction of the collection below, and some background information has been provided where available.
Questions? Comments? See anything that looks out of place? Send me an email and let me know.
Map completed with the assistance of Shelby Fox-Purrier.
Historic Detroit's tagline aptly describes their mission: "Every building in Detroit has a story - we're here to share it." Founded by writer and photographer Dan Austin, the site contains a wealth of information on Detroit's physical spaces, both past and present.
Almost 40,000 images taken by Detroit News photographers from the late 19th Century up to and including the 1980s. This includes mostly photos taken in Detroit, but there are plenty dealing with other subjects as well.
The Wayne State University Yamasaki Legacy project provides information and contextualization on renowned architect Minoru Yamasaki. It examines his designs on the WSU campus, as well as discussion his global influence.
Ethnic Layers of Detroit is an ongoing interdisciplinary project engaging faculty and student researchers in creating, documenting, and sharing multilayered multimedia narratives of Detroit’s ethnic histories. It provides a deeper look into specific stories in and around Detroit.
This map, originally published in a 1926 County Manual for Wayne, Michigan, shows how the borders of Detroit grew via the annexation of land from 1806 to 1926. The city's borders today remain largely the same as they were in 1926.
How was the skyline of Detroit changed throughout the years? This image tracks all of the buildings that have held the title of "Tallest Building in Detroit," from the Hammond Building, the city's first "skyscraper," in 1889 to the Renaissance Center in 1977. See if you can find all of them on the map of Virtual Motor City images elsewhere in the guide!
This architectural guidebook provides information on many notable Detroit buildings and architects, focusing primarily on commercial structures.
One of the most comprehensive guides to Detroit's buildings, providing photographs and historical information on both commercial and residential structures of note.
A collection of photographs and descriptions of historic churches in the Detroit area.
This book profiles 15 buildings that once stood in Detroit, but have since been demolished.
Profiles the Guardian Building in Detroit's Downtown, including exterior and interior photographs and information on its architect, Wirt C. Rowland.
This book profiles 12 notable Detroit buildings that had, at the time of publication, fallen into disrepair.
Detroit was, and perhaps still is, known for its many opulent movie palaces. This work provides information on many of them, stretching back to the turn of the 20th Century.
A history of the Detroit Public Library, from its beginnings in the old Michigan Capitol Building up to 1965, the time of this book's publication.
Though most famous for his work in Chicago, Daniel Burnham designed several of Detroit's earliest skyscrapers.
A prominent architect responsible for the design of many U. S. government buildings in Washington, D. C. and New York City, Gilbert also designed the Detroit Public Library's main branch.
Published by the A. Kahn, Inc. architecture firm, this book provides a wealth of information on Kahn's works.
This serves as a compilation of the works of Albert Kahn, not only in Detroit, but across Michigan and the rest of the world. It provides floor plans and blueprints for several of Kahn's buildings, along with some biographical information for context.
This book provides information on the Detroit buildings of famed architect Minoru Yamasaki, along with profiling the architect himself.
Published three hundred years after the founding of Detroit in 1701, this book provides a survey of the city's history over that time period.
Discusses the effects of race, economic condition, and Urban Renewal on the city of Detroit's development.
Published the year before Detroit's three hundredth anniversary, this book provides a history of the city over that time period.
Profiles the early years of Detroit, from its founding in 1701 to the 19th Century, in an engaging and interesting style.
Describes the experiences of the black population in Detroit during the early 20th Century, including the Great Migration and interactions between Ford and the black community.
Provides a description of the city of Detroit before, during, and after the American Civil War.
For each day of the year, this book provides an anecdote from Detroit's past, ranging from the city's founding in 1701 to the book's publication in 2016.
An examination of the city of Detroit after World War II, dealing specifically with its social, racial, and economic conditions.
Provides information on the development of Detroit after World War II, including the effects of Urban Renewal on the city's black population.
An excellent survey of Detroit's first 300 years, including many interesting photographs.
This short film, a production of Wayne State University and published in 1965, traces the history of Detroit's growth and provides some insight into how the layout of the city developed in the way that it did.
(WSU authorized and on-site users)
This short documentary film provides a history of the development of Detroit's Lafayette Park neighborhood, designed by former Bauhaus architect Mies van der Rohe and regional planner Ludwig Hilberseimer, with landscaping by Alfred Caldwell.