A Better Time


Via Shorpy, Cadillac Square in 1916 Detroit.  A substantially more prosperous city than today.


  1. Mesa Econoguy:

    Lower middle left, right by the fountain. What the hell are those things? The first Hummer stretch limos? (see full photo)

  2. Mesa Econoguy:

    And check the awning of the large building.

    I can make out the words “World’s Salesmanship…Congress ... Automobile Salesmen”

    Geez…. roaming hoards of union salesmen….yikes.

    Oh, wait, we have that now.

  3. Bob Smith:

    What fountain? The long vehicles look like the equivalent of a modern bus.

    Note they're still using horse-drawn buggies.

  4. Esox Lucius:

    Unions killed Detroit.

  5. MichiganGuy:

    "Lower middle left, right by the fountain. What the hell are those things? The first Hummer stretch limos? (see full photo)"

    Detroit had at one point a thriving trolley system, which my parents and grandparents remember fondly. My mom remembers riding with her mom to the downtown JL Hudson's store location for a "white-glove" luncheon at their lunch counter. Supposedly, GM sold the city buses at a huge discount, which killed the trolleys. Some tracks still remain in the streets downtown.

  6. feeblemind:

    Wonder what the city budget was in 1916 and what they spent the money on? Wonder what the tax rates were on individuals and corporations?

  7. Lee Smith:

    Thank you for linking to Shorpy. I found the site to addicting with so much visual history.

  8. Dan:

    Yes - those "Hummer" things, as you call them, are trolleys. Most American cities, including my hometown of Chicago, had thriving trolley systems right up until the 1950s, when the tracks were torn up and trolleys were replaced by buses. In Chicago, it happened very fast. As late as 1948, the city purchased 600 new trolley cars. The last trolley ran in Chicago in 1958.

  9. JimS:

    "Yes - those “Hummer” things, as you call them, are trolleys". Dan, I think he's talking about the buses behind the fountain, the trolley's are pretty obviously trains. My grandfathers first business venture, an independent trucking business, was done in by a collision with one of those very Detroit trolleys in 1925.
    It's sad for someone like me who grew up in Detroit to see photo's that show how much better off the city was in 1916 than when I was a kid in the '70's, which was better than the present.

  10. Tim Fowler:

    RE: "A substantially more prosperous city than today."

    Yes and no. Mainly a city with more economic growth than today. Things where more vital, and the situation was improving. Also the unemployment rate was probably much lower. But the real per capita income or spending per person was also lower.

  11. Dan:

    Ok JimS, maybe he was talking about what you said, but I really think he meant the trolleys. Some younger people on the Internet may never have even seen a photo of one, let alone an actual trolley. San Francisco still has a thriving trolley system (not to be confused with the touristy cable cars it also runs), and I've ridden on trolleys and trams in many European cities. So much nicer than a bus ride.

  12. Rick C:

    Mesa Econoguy was probably (?) talking about the thing that looks like a stretch Model T, right behind the statue in the middle of the street. The right-hand side of it looks like an engine compartment, and it's got something like 10 rows of seats. Seems a lot like the things that they use to ferry tourists to and from parking lots in places like Busch Gardens and the like.

  13. Mesa Econoguy:

    No, dumbass, I’m not talking about the fucking trolleys.

    Isn’t that a lot of public transport in a confined space? Especially in 1916?

    Of course, it took them some time to invent the Worlds Greatest Public Transport System Ever….the Detroit People Mover.