Detroit Tour Bus, 1939

Photograph courtesy of the Walter P. Reuther Library, Wayne State University

1939With “Greetings from Detroit” plastered across it, this photo could have made a great postcard. Packed with tourists (and maybe some locals), this new topless sightseeing bus rolls out for a day on the town. Then the nation’s fourth-largest city, Detroit had a lot of sights to see in 1939: several auto factories; lavish residential neighborhoods such as Palmer Woods, Indian Village, and Boston-Edison; the Vernor’s bottling plant; Belle Isle; Fort Wayne; Water Works Park; palatial downtown theaters like the Michigan, United Artists, Broadway-Capitol, and Fox; the GM Building (at the time the world’s second-largest office building); the newly christened Briggs Stadium (a year earlier, Navin Field became Briggs); the Cultural Center; Stroh’s Brewery; a thriving downtown retail area; the Maccabees Building (where popular radio shows such as The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet were broadcast from WXYZ’s studio); three newspaper plants; scores of majestic churches and synagogues; and skyscrapers, including the Penobscot Building, then the city’s tallest structure at 47 stories. After a tour of Detroit, these visitors no doubt had plenty to write home about.