About this project
Detroit is a city full of stories.
Nearly seven years ago, I set out to give a voice to the silent structures and majestic landmarks that made Detroit one of the greatest cities on the planet. I believe that a building is made of more than just brick and mortar. These places also are made of stories. And each played a role in shaping Detroit's story - our story.
And that is a story that deserves to be told.
I started telling these tales on BuildingsofDetroit.com, then wrote my first book, "Lost Detroit," and now I share them on HistoricDetroit.org. In "Lost Detroit" (History Press, 2010), I shared the tales behind 12 of Motown's infamous abandoned skyscrapers, taking readers behind the boarded-up windows and dusting off the memories of those who remember a different Detroit. The idea was to show that these places were more than just ruins and deserved more than to be labeled simply as "ruin porn." Each of these places had a story worth remembering - a past worth honoring.
This time around, I want to focus on 10-12 buildings that are part of a Detroit most people have never seen. They live on in only the memories of a fading few and in old black-and-white photographs. These landmarks are part of a truly "lost Detroit," beautiful landmarks destroyed either in the name of progress or because of shortsightedness.
Though these buildings may be lost to us, the history and stories that unfolded within their walls can still be preserved.
Many readers have no idea Detroit's Old City Hall even existed and are floored to learn that the city flattened such a beautiful, important piece of its history. Jaws drop over photos of the palatial old post office, a heck of a place to buy a stamp. Other buildings may include the hotel where Houdini was staying when he died in Detroit on Halloween 1926; incredible movie palaces where even common Detroiters felt like a star; the original Hotel Pontchartrain; and the city's first skyscraper, where Detroiters forked over a hard-earned dime to take to the skies - a soaring 10 stories up.
Sharing these stories is a passion of mine. I ask you to check out my work at www.historicdetroit.org. I am dedicated to getting the facts right and learning my readers a thing or two - without boring them to tears in the process.
Every Detroiter also should know what this city has lost, lest we allow even more of our history to follow these landmarks to the architectural landfill.
Here's where you come in: I cannot tell these stories without sharing old photos of these amazing structures - and the rights to reprint these photos is expensive. I'm hoping to have 100 photos in this book. Each photo costs $50 to $135 to print in a book. That puts the cost of doing the book from $5,000 to $6,000.
I'm hoping that lovers of Detroit's history and its architecture will help me raise half of that cost; I cannot afford to do this project justice without you.
I can't promise you'll get the exact building you want, but when we request your address to send your reward, we'll ask you what your preference is. If you want cards featuring Belle Isle, for example, no problem. If you want cards of Hudson's, we'll try our best to get you cards with Hudson's at least IN the picture, but Hudson's cards are pretty rare and in demand. You are making me very happy; I'm going to try my best to ensure you're happy, too. When we send out the e-mail asking you for your preference and your address, be sure not to dawdle on replying. I have only so many Michigan Central Station postcards to go around, and I'm filling them first come, first served.
Also note that many of these postcards have never been mailed. In an era before the handheld camera, many travelers bought postcards as keepsakes of their trips to Detroit. If you would rather have postmarked postcards, with the postmark showing 1909 or 1918 or whatever, let us know that, too.
We're shooting for December, but I'm not going to rush this. Shouldn't be too much later and we really are trying to get it done in time for the holidays.
You betcha. I wasn't expecting the overwhelming support this project has received, and the rewards have been e-flying off the e-shelves almost as fast as I can put them up. I've been combing through the archives here at HistoricDetroit HQ, looking for new rewards I can bring myself to part with. I'll continue to add rewards for as long as the Kickstarter runs. There's no shortage of signed books and postcards, but the rare Detroit memorabilia tends to disappear within hours of me putting it up.
There are two varities. Here are photos of both. Note the stamp on the back that says MCRR Depot Detroit with the year:
Maybe. Feel free to ask, but the roster of 10 buildings is pretty much set. If there's extra room in my photo- and word-count limits set by the publisher, I might do a quick-hit-style chapter at the back of the book. Unfortunately, some buildings - such as Hudson's, Olympia and Tiger Stadium - have histories so exhaustive, they deserve entire books of their own.
If you'd rather have two postcards and one train ticket, or two train tickets and one postcard, that's fine. Ditto on the books that come with three train tickets. Just let us know which combination of postcards and train tickets you want when we send you a confirmation after the Kickstarter on your reward.
Support this project
- (35 days)