Postcards from Detroit's Past

Wish We'd Been There: Greetings from Detroit! These images from a long-past era recall a bustling town where tourists, who stayed at such grand hotels as the Book-Cadillac and the Detroit-Leland, had plenty to write home about after visiting such places as Belle Isle, the Fox Theatre, or any number of skyscrapers.


Left to right: A nocturnal image of The David Broderick Tower (originally called Eaton Tower) facing Grand Circus Park. Its neighbor is the Madison Theatre. An early image of the Michigan Central Station, when train travel was the way to go. The grandiose lobby of the Fox Theatre, the city’s largest movie venue. It was designed by C. Howard Crane. Downtown’s David Stott Building, erected in 1929.


Vintage Detroit postcards — and their breezy notes dashed off by vacationers — tell the story of a onetime must-see stop for American travelers.

“I saw the home of your motor car,” Helen Young wrote to Curtis Wilson in 1923. “This is a pretty city. Am going to try and visit Canada.”

A year earlier, “Cath” wrote to Mrs. Gordon in Hammond, Ind.: “Detroit is some city.”

Vintage Detroit postcards are sold at City Bird in Midtown Detroit; The Bureau of Urban Living, also in Midtown, sells new Greetings From Detroit postcards;

LEFT TO RIGHT: The lovely lobby of the Detroit-Leland Hotel (now called The Leland), 
on Bagley. The French château beauty of the Col. Frank Hecker mansion, on Woodward and East Ferry.



Left to right: An early 20th-century image of the Belle Isle Aquarium, designed by Albert Kahn. A dramatic nighttime image of the City of Detroit steamer. 


Left to right: The heart of Detroit, beautifully illuminated. The opulent ballroom of the Book-Cadillac Hotel, which opened in 1924. 



Left to right: Capitol Park, a bucolic oasis in the city. 
Tiger Stadium as it appeared in the 1960s.


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