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Parking Lot Series – Detroit Street Scene and Parking Facilities

Today’s feature image taken by a Detroit News photographer in the early-1950s contains two parking lots and traffic on 1st Street between them in downtown Detroit, Michigan. The large building visible on the right below was the home of the Michigan Typesetting Co. The building with an exterior fire escape on the left side of 1st Street is the Hotel Fort Shelby which has survived and is located at 525 W. Lafayette Boulevard.

Share with us what you find of interest on 1st Street above and in the largest of the two parking lots below in this photograph courtesy of the Wayne State University Libraries.


15 responses to “Parking Lot Series – Detroit Street Scene and Parking Facilities

  1. In the lead photograph, following the 1953 PONTIAC Chieftain Super DeLuxe Catalina with visor, is a four-door 1950 PACKARD [non-Custom model].

    • The contrast between the early ’50s Cadillac at the curb is fascinating .. clean and so sweeping , and the Packard on the street so dirty and dowdy, the ’51 model design was not that much improved… further back on the curb behind the DeSoto and the Ford, a ’50 Stude Champion Starliner. Others have commented on the Hudson stepdowns but it appears in the same foto there’s an early ’40s Hudson body design… three rows coming at you and in the back cross the rows a 2 door Brougham.

  2. Across the street at the curb is an unusually optioned `54 DeSoto sedan, complete with wire wheel covers and skirts! On this side of the street, a `51 Ford cvt., a `52 Mercury Custom 2dr., and a `50 Ford coupe with a grille guard. I’d car-spot further, but I’d be here all day rattling off the cars parked in the lot! There’s plenty for everyone–don’t be shy!

  3. It looks to be a late ’53 photograph, based on the one visible license plate and the DeSoto. In 1954, “Water Wonderland” was under the registration number, and that lasted until 1965 (when it became “Water-Winter Wonderland”). In ’53, the last two digits of the year were under the registration number. Unsurprisingly, it’s a Wayne County tag; prior to 1958, Wayne County was assigned AA through CZ.

    • My guess is that there are not enough off-street parking spaces in the area so the factories pay the city an annual fee for the right of employees to park free on the streets neighboring the factories, thus the meters are removed.

  4. Very tight factory parking. The first car in at the start of the shift, could be the last one out at the end of the shift. About the parking meter posts. Here in the Northwest US where we have deep snow, our fire hydrants and other important objects are marked with tall posts so that the snow plows don’t hit them when the snow covers them. The shoulders of the roads also have tall stakes that mark the shoulders so that the snow plows can keep from accidentally plowing a non road area. Could these parking meter like posts be serving the same purpose?

  5. Parked on the street, on the right, is a 1948 or ’49 HUDSON step-down, and across the street, in elevated parking lot, is a 1951 or ’52 HUDSON.

  6. Well, it’s nice to see a couple Packards in their hometown ( I think there may be a 3rd farther back from the ’51) I also see a late 40’s Ford cabover stake truck way back in the 2nd pic.

  7. Cool hand Luke was busted for topping the parking meters off with a big pipe cutter. Maybe that happened here???….

  8. The meter posts look very new. Shades of things to come ! The Pkng. meters were invented in Ohio !!! They are: good news & bad news. just sayin’. Great news for body shops, & bad news for un-practiced NON – parallel Parkers.

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