As Detroit developed northward from the riverfront, Woodward Avenue became a mecca for retail, restaurants, and services. The 1870s and 1880s saw many independent merchants open their doors. By 1890, a new type of one-stop shopping had developed: the department store. Detroit’s venerable Newcomb Endicott and Company was closely followed by other trailblazers: J. L. Hudson Company, Crowley Milner and Company, and the Ernst Kern Company. At its peak in the 1950s, the Woodward Avenue area boasted over four million square feet of retail, making it one of America’s preferred retail destinations. Other Detroit emporiums such as the homegrown S. S. Kresge Company set trends in consumer culture. Generations made the trek downtown for back-to-school events, Easter shows, holiday windows, and family luncheons. Then, with the advent of suburban shopping centers, downtown stores began competing with their own branch locations. By the 1970s and 1980s, the dominoes began to fall as both chain and independent stores abandoned the once prosperous Woodward Avenue.
About the Author
Thanks to wonderful images from the Central Business District Foundation, the Manning Brothers Historical Collection, the Walter P. Reuther Library archives at Wayne State University, and the Burton Historical Collection at the Detroit Public Library, Michael Hauser and Marianne Weldon have provided readers with a glimpse of the days when shopping was considered an event. Hauser is marketing manager for Michigan Opera Theatre, and Weldon is curator of collections for the Detroit Historical Society.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20th Century Retailing in Downtown Detroit (Images of America Series) based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
We love the book and the pictures. A must see - pictures of Detroit past that you won't find anywhere else.
Few people under the age of fifty can vividly recall just how wonderful the Woodward retail core was. This book shows, in great detail, the workings of the sophisticated department stores, the exquisite boutiques and their more moderate counterparts and the role they played in the prosperous commercial life of the city.