Detroit April 20, 2022
Here’s What Life In Detroit Looked Like In The 1920s
Are you obsessed with checking out vintage photos from Detroit? We’re right there with you – after all, there’s something decidedly fascinating about checking out familiar spaces during eras long past. Now that we’re cruising through the 2020s, there’s an extra dash of magic to be found in photos from a full century ago. If you’re eager to see what Motor City life was like in the 1920s, you’ll adore today’s collection of images. Get ready to take a journey back in time to experience the 1920s in Detroit.
1. This photo from 1920 shows the now-demolished Broadway-Strand Theater in Detroit.
The cars in the photo were donated by local carmakers to transport approximately 600 local orphans to a special viewing of Huckleberry Finn – take note of the marquee. We can’t help but wonder how many first dates and other special memories were made at this theater by Detroiters over the years.
2. The Tigers have long been a fixture of life in the Motor City, and the 1920s were no exception.
While stadiums and traditions have transformed throughout the generations, Detroit’s love for the game certainly has not! This photo shows Tigers player Ty Cobb chatting with team owner Frank Navin back in 1921.
3. It’s certainly no secret that Detroit boasts a long history with the automobile industry.
This impressive capture, taken sometime between 1920 and 1925, shows workers testing car engines in one of the city’s multiple automotive plants. It’s incredible to think about how many Detroiters have made their living in these factories throughout the generations.
4. We always appreciate admiring the Detroit skyline.
This panoramic scene from 1929 is lovely, featuring a great view of the adjacent Detroit River and fluffy clouds over the city. Do you recognize any of the buildings in this photo?
5. The Motor City has a long history of attracting performers and entertainers.
Do you recognize any of these faces? If you’re a fan of film history, you’ll be able to identify Will Rogers, Maude George, and Vera Gordon in this photo, which was taken in Detroit during a promotional appearance in 1922.
6. Today, many of us head to Meijer or Kroger when we need to stock up on groceries. During the 1920s, though, things were obviously much different – and this photo provides evidence.
Taken in 1922, the image depicts members of the Smykowski family inside their store, Smykowski Brothers Grocery at 31st and Herbert Streets. The family operated three grocery stores throughout the Motor City area, the last of which remained in business until the 1970s. Did you ever visit one of their shops?
7. While the exact date of this photograph is unknown, it’s estimated to have been taken sometime around 1920. The photo depicts Detroit’s Statler Hotel and the Whitney Building, both of which bustled with activity around this time.
Locals might recognize the Whitney Building, which remains standing today. The Statler Hotel, which was eventually repurposed as Hilton Hotel, was demolished in the early 2000s.
8. We stand firm in our belief that the Detroit Public Library is one of Michigan’s most beautiful buildings – and this has always been the case!
This photo from 1921 shows the library’s main reading room, complete with ornate architecture and stunning interior design. Take a look at those light fixtures!
9. Long before television and the internet took over our lives, radio was the name of the game for information and entertainment in Metro Detroit.
This photo shows the Detroit News Orchestra setting up to broadcast their music over the airwaves on WWJ. We can almost hear those instruments warming up!
10. We’ve included this photo in previous articles, but it’s simply too fascinating not to include in our piece about the 1920s in Detroit.
After all, the image shows a bustling street scene at Michigan and Griswold, complete with pedestrians and auto traffic galore. We can’t help but wonder if some of our late family members might be captured here while going about their everyday business in the Motor City.
So, there you have it: a unique and fascinating collection of photos depicting the 1920s in Detroit. Do you have any fascinating passed-down stories about this time period to share? Did any of our photos especially pique your interest? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a Facebook comment or recommend your favorite historical attractions in Detroit by completing our official
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