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A 1930s Detroit, Michigan Street Scene

Updated – Today’s street scene photograph takes us to Detroit, Michigan for a view of an unknown thoroughfare in the late thirties. The Singer store located on the street corner of the right-hand side of the image may indicate that this was a semi-residential area at the time.

This photo may have been taken during either the morning or evening commuting hours as many of the pedestrians on the right-hand sidewalk appear to be walking down to a streetcar stop at the end of the block beyond Cities Services station. The cars and trucks on the street appear to be built in the 1930 to ’39 period.

Tell us what you find of interest in this image courtesy of Seeking Michigan.

Editors Note: Due to the Fourth of July Holiday weekend, the next post on the The Old Motor will be on Tuesday and will contain a charming early Forth of July themed photo.

Update – Thanks to Ace Zenek the location where this photo was taken has been identified he commented: “This is the Cities Service Oil Co. filling station at 9343 Gratiot Avenue. Hazen G. Breitmeyer ran the business, and he previously had a Mobil franchise at this location. The side street in front of the station is May Avenue, and the view is to the southwest looking towards downtown Detroit. The building with the “Singer” sign is one corner of the Roosevelt Theatre at 9515 Gratiot”.

“Everything shown in the photo has been demolished. The Edsel Ford Freeway, Interstate 94 Exit 219 at Gratiot Avenue, is now located near where the business stood”.

23 responses to “A 1930s Detroit, Michigan Street Scene

  1. I see a mid- late thirties Packard ’bout 6 cars back “lumberin'” up the street towards us. Sure looks urban- weekend or early in the day.

  2. Another example of how quickly cars wore out or became obsolete in those days — nothing here older than six or seven years that I can see.
    About the time this photo was taken my parents had to sell their Model A to pay the bill for my brother’s birth. The whole cost was only seventy-five bucks, which sounds cheap until you realize that they had to sell their only car to pay it.

    • Not sure I am buying your thoughts in paragraph one. I grew up on a steel town and it was your patriotic duty to buy a new car every 2-3 years. I am sure that feeling was even stronger in the motor city.

  3. I have no idea where this location is, but it is quite away from the city center. Last week my wife and I visited downtown Detroit. We rode on the new light rail line that runs along Woodward Ave. called the Q line. Very nice to see light rail return to some cities. We had a great time. Downtown Detroit is making a comeback.

  4. The 1932 Chevrolet parked has several accessories followed by a 30-31 Ford devoid of such things. The Ford panel truck is a 33-34 type. I can’t make out which, but think it is a 33 model 46. I always liked that slightly canted grille; wish Ford had made a car like that.

  5. This is the Cities Service Oil Co. filling station at 9343 Gratiot Avenue. Hazen G. Breitmeyer ran this business, and he previously had a Mobil franchise at this location. The side street in front of the station is May Avenue, and the view is to the southwest looking towards downtown Detroit. The building with the “Singer” sign is one corner of the Roosevelt Theatre at 9515 Gratiot.

    Everything shown in the photo has been demolished. The Edsel Ford Freeway, Interstate 94 Exit 219 at Gratiot Avenue, is now located near where the business stood .

    Confirming the location were:
    Sign store: Albert Epstein, 9356 Gratiot Ave.
    Shoe Repairing: Antonio Barraco, 9329 Gratiot Ave
    – Note the giant size black shoe with the word “REPAIR . . .”
    Hackney Drug Store: Frances Hackney, 9319 Gratiot Ave.
    Pipper’s Dry Goods Store: 9305-9309 Gratiot Ave.
    A photo of the front of the Roosevelt Theatre.

  6. Puhnto is absolutely right ! Your 6 posts a week are really interesting, enlightening, and entertaining.. not to mention educational. The participation those posts elicit reflect your followers tremendous depth ,experience and knowledge. I’m so glad, I discovered your magazine site… I tell everyone about it. Now , after that paen to you and your faithful lab. Am I right , David? Your copy editor is a Labrador Retrievor, yes?

    Now, again..on the left parked under the painted sign for signs, facing the street, must be an alley behind the commerce streetside…not sure if it’s three or four cars but the nearest is a ’36 Ford tudor, beside it, at least two trunkback ’36 Oldsmobile 8’s. Must not be summer because everyone has topcoats; sure there’s a drug store some where and green grocer as well as a meat shop and other sundry establishments. Beyond the alleys each side, residences multi-tenant or otherwise… Definetely Sunday morning.

    Boiy, do I Ineed a copy editor!!!

  7. Well, you know people were really just starting to fully recover from the Depression and more than likely scrimped along on old beaters until they had the finances to get something better. I would imagine you are seeing the results of that here as more folks got rid of their pre-1930 pieces of iron.

  8. Perhaps it is my skewed vision, but to me, the three cars in the lot at the far left look like they are considerably higher than the vehicles at the curb. Optical illusion?

    And, I agree with the other comments, David. Any time you need to, just post a note saying you will be off for “x” time. We will still be here.

  9. Here we are in 2017 ……..and Denver, CO is bringing back a light rail system that was previously used in 1930’s Detroit .

  10. I’ll bet none of you non-Detroiters can pronounce Gratiot correctly. BTW, this post made it’s way into the FB group “Historic Architecture ofthe Detroit area”. There was a lively discussion about this location.

  11. Looking at the condition of the sidewalks and buildings it appears that Detroit was pretty run down already in it’s heyday of the 30’s. No wonder the city is in such dire condition today!

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