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Parking Lot Series: Three Section Mega Parking Lot in the Motor City

For our readers that enjoy checking out vintage cars in the photos that make up the Parking Lot Series, this view that appears to be next to the Detroit River is one that will keep you busy for more than a few moments. The lead photo shows the bottom one third of the shot, and the enlargeable image below shows the upper two thirds of the picture.

There is a divider on the ground between the between the top lot and the second one, but the later apparently is one of two combined sections that were operated as a whole with a service lane in the middle. The last two enlargeable photos are the third lot divided in the middle so that it can blown up further.

A brief look at the automobiles in the photos reveals that the vast majority of them are early-to-mid fifties cars, but after a quick-once over of the scene, at least one 1955 model is visible. Tell us what you find of interest in the photographs courtesy of the Wayne State University Libraries.

23 responses to “Parking Lot Series: Three Section Mega Parking Lot in the Motor City

  1. So many cars !!!

    In the 2nd photograph, at the top center of the picture, is the Steamer GREATER DETROIT in lay-up. She shows her 1949 all white paint job. She was burned in 1956 to remove her wooden superstructure. Her sister ship, the Steamer GREATER BUFFALO, was converted into the aircraft carrier SABLE during World War II, one of only two side-wheel aircraft carriers.

    • Moored to the side of the Str. GREATER DETROIT is either the steamer EASTERN STATES or WESTERN STATES [and the other one is docked behind the GREATER DETROIT].

      • The Eastern States was burned at the same time as the Greater Detroit, while Western States would be burned in 1959.

        The presence of both “States” limits the dating of this photograph, since Western States was towed to Tawas in June 1955 and remained there (as a floating hotel) until scrapped.

  2. Wow…where to start? Let’s just say there’s alot of eye candy in these photos! Newest cars I see appear to be `56 models. A white `55 Cadillac Series 62 cvt. I see would be on my wish list!

  3. All vehicles appear to be American made except for MG TD Roadster in center of photo 2.
    And only pickup that I find is a Ford F1 in the upper left corner of photo 2.

  4. Only imports seem to be the two MGs, in the second picture, the light one is a TD and in the last row next to the hut there’s another one with the top down. The oldest car I found was the 1940 Chevrolet coupe in the third picture. Light colour paint seems to predominate and many have dark roofs. Detroit’s winter seems to not encourage convertibles, I found very few.

    • Thanks Robbie Marenzi!
      You have a keener eye than I.
      I completely missed the MG next to the hut.
      After 78 years my eyes aren’t as sharp as they used to be!

  5. I seem to be the guy with more questions than answers. That being the case, what is this parking all for? An auto plant nearby, TACOM, or ??? The motor city appears to be choking on it’s own success with limited parking available near where ever all these people went after parking their vehicles. I doubt they have parking problems today.

    • I did a little digging. According to Historic Detroit, the steamboat terminals were between 3rd Avenue and Washington Avenue. Based on the shape of the riverfront, I think they were moved slightly lower down once the terminals were torn down, because that right angle looks like where 3rd Avenue came down to the river. If so, where the cars are parked is where Joe Louis Arena was built in the 70s. That’s in the middle of the Financial District, and just a couple blocks from the City-County Building (now the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center), which is the city government headquarters that opened in 1954.

  6. In the 3rd photograph, parked in the back row, facing the camera, next to a 1953 DeSOTO, is a two-tone 1953 STUDEBAKER Starliner.

    • It was likely purchased at Falvey’s. They still had T series parts when I managed a BMC dealership in the mid 1960s. We also got our new BMC cars through them.

  7. In the 4th picture, in the parking lot in the foreground, row of cars on the right, 7 cars back, looks like a dark 1948 PACKARD Super Eight Victoria convertible; and 11 cars beyond this PACKARD, looks like a dark, four-door, post-war STUDEBAKER Land Cruiser.

  8. Can anyone make out the signage on the brick building in the first picture? And incidently, how do you guys know all this ship information?

    • Chuck,

      No luck with the signage either.

      Overnight passenger steamboats are an interest of mine. The steamers GREATER DETROIT and GREATER BUFFALO were the largest side-wheel steamers in the world. The Streamer SEEANDBEE was the 3rd largest sidewheeler [during Word War II she was converted into the aircraft carrier WOLVERINE]. All three ran on Lake Erie.


  9. WE serviced all of the MG : TC, TD & TF roadsters, and if: They hadn’t been damaged by Butchers , before us, — we had a good relationship with these wonderful Roadsters and their Owners , at : Norman’s Automotive Garage , an Independent that claimed and did work on: “Anything from 2 to 18 wheels”, — foreign or domestic , IN the Silver Lake Reservoir District area of Los Angeles. This one brand of small Roadster type sports cars brought popularity of this genre to America — and also included all of the other English & German Brands of Sedans & Sports cars that followed! The British & German Motorcycles did the same thing! Edwin W.

  10. Amazing how similar these cars look from the air. I see the Caddy and a couple of Pontiacs with the hood stripes. Not sure about a lot of them.

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