Detroit Historical Society
Kern’s Square
c. 1968

c. 1968

Kern’s Square is one of Downtown’s quickly forgotten landmarks from the recent past. Today you will find the modern Compuware Building sitting on its site, but from 1966 to 1999 it was a large and mostly empty city park. Unlike most Downtown parks, the pentagon shaped greenspace lacked shade trees, monuments or fountains. At the heart of the Campus Martius area, it perennially failed to…

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pastperfect-online:

Virginia S. Thorne posed in a dark dress seated beside a dog, 1870.
You can see this little girl and her puppy at the Detroit Historical Society. 

pastperfect-online:

Virginia S. Thorne posed in a dark dress seated beside a dog, 1870.

You can see this little girl and her puppy at the Detroit Historical Society

While April 17, 2014, marks the 50th anniversary of the unveiling of the Ford Mustang at the 1964 World’s Fair, the Detroit Historical Society has in its collection this 51-year-old prototype Mustang II (no relation to the 1970s production car of same name).

Packard Anniversaries
When you picture the anniversaries of major automobile companies, what do you imagine? Do you think of big sales or elaborate displays or advertisements about the company’s history?

Packard Anniversaries

When you picture the anniversaries of major automobile companies, what do you imagine? Do you think of big sales or elaborate displays or advertisements about the company’s history?

The sun sets behind the Detroit skyline in this c. 1945 photo.

The sun sets behind the Detroit skyline in this c. 1945 photo.

This 1922 Manning Brothers photo was taken in the Champion Spark Plug Company’s Product Testing Laboratory.  The laboratory equipment is, from left to right, an impact testing machine for assembled spark plugs, an intermittent heat shock testing device, a modified Olsen tensile strength machine, the electric furnace and recorders for determining the temperature-electrical resistivity curve for assembled spark plugs, and a falling-weight impact tester for cores.
As the Jeffery-Dewitt Insulator Company factory in Detroit was purchased by the Champion Spark Plug Company in 1921 to become the Champion Porcelain Company, the Detroit Historical Society has a large collection of materials from the company.

This 1922 Manning Brothers photo was taken in the Champion Spark Plug Company’s Product Testing Laboratory.  The laboratory equipment is, from left to right, an impact testing machine for assembled spark plugs, an intermittent heat shock testing device, a modified Olsen tensile strength machine, the electric furnace and recorders for determining the temperature-electrical resistivity curve for assembled spark plugs, and a falling-weight impact tester for cores.

As the Jeffery-Dewitt Insulator Company factory in Detroit was purchased by the Champion Spark Plug Company in 1921 to become the Champion Porcelain Company, the Detroit Historical Society has a large collection of materials from the company.

"Now I’m the Man Who Owns One" - The Changing Nature of Packard

“Now I’m the Man Who Owns One” – The Changing Nature of Packard

2009.021.414In an effort to stave off the bankruptcy that had doomed- or was soon to doom- other luxury car makers such as Cord, Duesenberg, Pierce Arrow and Auburn, Packard President Alvan Macauley introduced the Packard 120 in 1935. This car, a far cry from the company’s previous commitment to luxury, was designed to appeal to the masses and appeal to them it did. 10,000 orders were placed, each with a…

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"Ask the Man Who Owns One"

“Ask the Man Who Owns One”

2004.043.402aThe rise and fall of the Packard Motor Car Company is a fascinating story. Promotional photographs from the late 1930s to the mid-1940s show their advertising campaigns and how they mirrored the company and the automobiles it produced.

In 1902 J.W. Packard wrote the first hit car slogan “Ask the man who owns one,” which was used until the company’s demise in 1958. This slogan, and its ubiquity in…

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Today marks the 104th anniversary of the Great Detroit Flood of April 1, 1910.  These two postcards show the passenger steamers and freighters that Detroiters depended on to travel through the flooded streets of downtown.  Monuments like the Bagley Memorial Fountain, then positioned on the southern side of Campus Martius in front of the Hotel Pontchartrain, became navigational hazards for these vessels.