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Detroit News Images: Woodward Avenue and Fort Street

The image above taken on November 29, 1956, by a “Detroit News” staff photographer is a view of Fort Street in Southgate, Michigan, looking northeast towards the “Motor City.” Heading south on the thoroughfare is an interesting assortment of 1950s automobiles and a cab-over van. Thanks to the help of reader Jack Geerlings we know that the first four buildings on the left in the photo have all survived and are used by different merchants today.

Below is an image of Woodward Avenue traffic shot in the late-fifties about eight miles northwest of Detroit in Pleasant Ridge, Michigan. The picture was taken from the median across from Maywood Avenue looking toward the intersection of Woodward and I-696; the city of Royal Oak is a few miles northwest of this location. Many of the buildings in the photo still exist although some have been extensively modified, here is a view of the scene today.

Tell us what you find of interest in these newspaper press photographs from The Old Motor archives.

20 responses to “Detroit News Images: Woodward Avenue and Fort Street

  1. What would really be neat is a present photo taken at the same vantage point as the old one and compared side by side! Occasionally I see something like this with old WWII photos and present day views and it really helps to appreciate the scene overall.

    • Hi Don,

      Dave provides exactly what you ask for in his link (“here is a view the scene today”) in text below the photo that will take to Google Maps street view of the intersection and you can manipulate the view to see all directions and move back and forth. Just click on the link and voila!

      Thank you Dave!

  2. The ’55 Bel Air convertible looks like its owner has neglected basic car-care maintenance as now a two year old car, it looks like it needs more than just a run thru a wash rack. Shame!

    • Having grown up in the area I can think of some good excuses for the ’55 Chevy convertible’s appearance. The date is November 29 and it is almost certain that one or more snow/ice events are already in the record. There are white, road salt, tire tracks on the pavement along with dried salt puddle deposits by the curbs. The lack of a wheel disc on the rear of the Chevy may be due to the installation of snow tires and the wheels won’t accept the wheel discs. He needs a car wash for sure because the car looks like it is covered with road salt deposits – but then again he may have gotten it dirty on the way to work that morning (in the dark: it’s Detroit!) and hasn’t had a chance to get it cleaned up yet. Ahh, the good old days……………..

  3. In the first photo it appears Chevrolet edges out the other cars of the ‘low price three’. I see four 1955 models, the most indistinct being the one far back on the left under the drug store sign. And one 1949 or early 1950’s behind the chrysler. There are three fords and possibly a fourth if the pickup behind the van is a ford. Also a couple of nice looking mid-50’s buicks.
    Third pic looks like all are well represented, a ’57 chevy parked on the curb and a few older ones parked on the right. A 1955 or 56 pontiac next to a ’57. Looks like a ’57 olds ahead on the left, and three tail-finned mopars ( I think).

    • RE: 1st photo:
      The pickup truck in back of the large step van is a 1952 Ford model F-1 (1/2 T) or F-2 (3/4 T). It has some sort of custom wood rack rails on the rear box. The very large step van appears to be a GMC chassis by the styling of the grill and faint logo lettering just above the grille. That is a pretty big truck, perhaps UPS for commercial pickup and delivery? The large FORD sign on the building to the left way down the street beyond Royal Drugs could be a Ford dealer. Anyone know?

      Good photo showing a busy town with a lot of activity during prosperous times. No empty shops to be seen.

  4. The photo taken in Pleasant Ridge was long before I-696 was there. It was a long, bitter battle to build that “middle” portion of the interstate due to the impacts on some wealthy suburbs and the Detroit Zoo. It was 1989 before the freeway was completed. At the time of the photo, the Wigwam restaurant would have been just up the road in the right, and so would Matthews Hargreaves Chevrolet. I’m Royal Oak born and bred! Great memories. Thanks!

    • Yes, I was thinking the same thing. It looks like that framework is needed to thrust the sign out into the roadway. The sundae on the sign is actually over the road. The Metro Furniture sign juts out too.

  5. The Nash “Metropolitan” is the best “explanatory” name for where they are best “at home ” : City Streets. Great for that, they have the acceleration of a Model A Ford , so Freeway use can be a challenge!!! Very economical, & very proper for a British Picnic, old chap! The tiny: (Proven) Brit. drive – line is amazingly economical! These cars should all be fitted with “Hollywood Wolf Whistles”, as they are a “rolling cartoon”, that is appreciated & enjoyed — in parades & festivals!, so they can say: Hello!!! (in an American way!)

  6. Interesting to note how narrow the track is for the single-spinner Ford at the back of the top photo compared to the cars in the front of the picture.

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