Michigan August 30, 2021
11 Historic Photos That Show Us What It Was Like Living In Michigan In The Early 1900s
We don’t know about you, but gazing at photos from generations long past has always left us feeling fascinated. There’s something both eerie and magical about looking at pictures from earlier eras, particularly when they depict familiar places right here in the Great Lakes State. When you’re ready to take a journey through time, check out these incredible captures from Michigan in the early 20th century.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. Did you know that Michigan Tech in Houghton was originally founded as a school to train miners who worked in local copper mines? This photo, captured in 1906, shows an early building on campus when the Upper Peninsula school was still known as the Michigan College of Mines.
2. This capture from the turn of the century shows Front Street in downtown Monroe, Michigan - unpaved streets and all. Monroe now houses a population of over 20,000 residents and plenty of long-standing historical buildings. Do any of the structures in this photo look familiar?
3. If you’ve ever visited the town of Durand, you might have seen its historic train station: Durand Union Station. This photo from the early 1900s shows the station in its heyday, with trains aplenty and all sorts of pedestrian traffic throughout the area. The building still stands at 200 S Railroad Street.
4. We Michiganders are no strangers to college football, and this tradition stretches back more than a century. This photo shows the 1900 University of Michigan football team, as published in the college yearbook the following year. Did any of your family members play football for an early Michigan college?
5. The Motor City has experienced an endless array of transformations throughout the generations. This photo from 1902 shows Cadillac Square in Detroit: streetcars, pedestrians, horse-drawn buggies, and all. We can’t help but wonder what sorts of conversations and tasks were taking place during this moment in time.
6. A so-called “excursion logging train” makes a stop during a jaunt through Harbor Springs in 1906. We truly can’t get enough of those early 20th century outfits - there are some seriously impressive hats captured here. Which is your favorite?
7. Michiganders go about their day in this 1908 photo from downtown Grand Rapids. Taken at the intersection of Monroe and Canal Streets, this scene depicts a growing city complete with plenty of shops, merchants, and transportation options. Grand Rapids still utilizes some of the cobblestone streets shown here.
8. Young students participate in a summer education session at Western State Normal School in Kalamazoo. This photo, first published in 1912, makes us wonder what these children went on to accomplish here in the Great Lakes State.
9. Curious onlookers gather ‘round the tracks in the town of Almont to admire brand new interurban cars on the Detroit, Almont, and Northern Railroad Company line in 1914. We can’t imagine the excitement Michiganders must have felt when new transportation routes opened and allowed for easier travel between cities.
10. This photo from 1912 shows a tent advocating for women’s suffrage at the Michigan State Fair. The history of activism here in the Great Lakes State is truly fascinating and long-reaching, playing a major role in all sorts of national movements throughout the generations.
11. This postcard from the fall of 1911 shows President William Howard Taft speaking to a sizable crowd at the Michigan Central Depot in Battle Creek. Taft lost the subsequent 1912 presidential election to Woodrow Wilson. Have you ever seen a political candidate make a speech here in the Great Lakes State?
Isn’t history fascinating? No matter how long we spend looking at photos of Michigan’s past, we’re always left eager to see more. If you have any unique and historical family photographs to share from life here in the Great Lakes State, feel free to post them in the Facebook comments. Or, if you’d like to recommend a history-rich destination in Michigan, fill out our official nomination form
Searching for another dose of history? You’ll enjoy reading about this
underwater ghost town in Michigan.