Detroit September 14, 2021
These 11 Candid Photos Show What Life Was Like In Detroit In The 1940s
Whether you’re a history buff or simply a Detroit local who’s passionate about the area, there’s something fascinating about taking a glimpse at days gone by here in the Motor City. Our city and its surrounding towns are rich with history and unique contributions to society, no matter which era we examine. Today, we’ll explore a handful of photos that depict Metro Detroit during the 1940s: a time of conflict and cultural change.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. This photo by Milton Brooks, which won the 1942 Pulitzer Prize for Photography, shows Ford River Rouge plant workers attacking a man who broke the picket line during the 1941 United Auto Workers strike.
, Ford was ordered by the National Labor Relations Board to cease interference with union organizing attempts.
2. We Detroiters sure do love our sports, and this passion extends back for generations. This photo shows the Detroit Red Wings in a hockey match against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 1942 Stanley Cup Finals.
Unfortunately, the Leafs ultimately reigned victorious and took home the trophy.
3. This 1942 scene shows United States Army tanks during production at the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant, which was commissioned in conjunction with Chrysler.
4. Members of America’s only Office of Civil Defense “womens’ fire watcher unit,” based in Detroit, stand atop a building during their shift.
The photo was taken in 1942, when many women were called to the workforce as WWII took men overseas to participate in the war effort.
5. The photo might be blurry, but we can almost hear the marching band in this 1949 capture from a University of Michigan football game.
Attending games in Ann Arbor has long been a source of excitement and pride for Metro Detroit residents and visitors alike.
6. Traffic has always been an unfortunate and stressful reality of life here in the Motor City, and this photo serves as proof.
Taken in 1941, it depicts a busy and bustling Gratiot Avenue in downtown Detroit.
7. You might be familiar with Garland Manufacturing Company, a Detroit-based organization that helped produce equipment for United States military members during the second World War.
This 1947 photograph shows founder Harry Garland and his son on the grounds of the Garland Seaplane Base and Flight School, which operated along the Detroit River.
8. Oak Grove Trailer Park, situated on the outskirts of the Motor City, primarily housed defense workers during the war. This photo from 1941 shows residents taking care of chores in the on-site laundry room.
Can you imagine doing laundry sans today’s modern washers and dryers?
9. Detroit’s Packard Motor Car Company also played a role in producing equipment for the war effort. This capture from the spring of 1941 shows two employees hard at work constructing pieces for Navy torpedo boats.
Did any of your loved ones assist with military production in Detroit during WWII?
10. Does the name Hank Greenberg ring a bell? The former Detroit Tiger, shown here at bat in 1940, primarily played as a first baseman and remains iconic for his strength and slugging prowess.
At what might have been the height of his baseball career, he was called to serve in WWII and
remained in the service
for a full 47 months.
11. Longtime Detroiters and their loved ones might have memories of visiting Kern’s Department Store, which remained in operation from 1883 until 1959.
While the building has been demolished, its iconic clock can still be seen at the intersection of Gratiot and Woodward in downtown Detroit. This photo shows Kern’s as it appeared in the summer of 1942.
Do any of these fascinating and historical photos of Detroit bring up memories or remind you of family pictures? We’re always delighted to hear from you, so share your own Motor City memories and vintage photos with us by leaving a Facebook comment. Or, if you’d like to recommend a must-visit modern destination in Detroit, fill out our nomination form
Can’t get enough of these awesome vintage photographs? You’ll want to check out these
early 20th century photos of Detroit. Address: Detroit, MI, USA