The Way It Was


Photograph Courtesy of the Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library

1907Eastern High School, which stood at the intersection of Mack Avenue and East Grand Boulevard, was long renowned as a producer of top sports teams, particularly in the 1950s and ’60s. It was built in 1901 and demolished in 1982. However, it also emphasized erudition, as exemplified in this early shot of Eastern’s Honors Class students, along with a few of their teachers. These young scholars from 110 years ago have passed on, but one wants to believe that they made their mark in the world. Even 20 years later, they must have been proud of the sentiments expressed in a poem included in Eastern’s 1927 yearbook: Oh Eastern High, Dear Eastern High/Our praise to thee we’ll give;/And spread thy teachings far and near,/To make thy standards live. A few illustrious Eastern grads include Detroit Mayor Coleman A. Young (1935); Detroit Piston Reggie Harding (1961); baseball great Joe Altobelli (1950); community and business leader Ed Deeb (1954); and boxing titan Emanuel Steward (1962). In 1967, Eastern moved to a new building on East Lafayette and Mount Elliott, near Elmwood Cemetery. A year later Eastern was renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School, after the civil rights leader was assassinated in April 1968. The mascot name was also then changed from the Indians to the Crusaders. But the idea was not to erase the memory of Eastern High. In 2012, a wing of MLK High School was dedicated to Eastern, with members of Eastern’s alumni association in attendance. The proud alumni also posted a granite memorial at the site of their old high school in 2010, which reads: “This is the site of Eastern High School, 1901-1966, and remembered with affection by more than three generations of alumni.” 


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