Christmas on Washington Boulevard, 1930

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


This photograph could easily have served as the inspiration for a favorite holiday tune: “Silver bells, silver bells. It’s Christmastime in the city.” Here’s a snow-dusted Washington Boulevard in downtown Detroit, festooned with garlands, wreaths, and a line of large bells in the median. Although Woodward Avenue was the downtown retail hub, Washington Boulevard also was home to chic shops, including J.M. Citron, Scholnick’s, and Himelhoch’s (which also had a Woodward entrance). In 1937, the prominent clothier S.L. Bird relocated from Woodward to Washington Boulevard. In addition, the imposing Book Tower, along with two grand hotels — the Statler on the north end at Park Avenue, and the Book-Cadillac at Michigan Avenue — added cachet to the fashionable street. At center right is the new building for St. Aloysius Catholic Church, which opened in 1930, replacing an older structure. In later years, several major airline companies took up residence on Washington Boulevard.


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