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Thread: Western Market

  1. #1

    Default Western Market

    I'm trying to find information on the old Western Market. I believe it was located at Michigan between 18th and Humbolt and closed in the 1960's to make way for the freeway. Pictures would be nice.

    Here is a map of Detroit, circa 1893 with the locations of both Western and Eastern Markets.

    Also, I would like info on the Chene-Ferry Market, which I believe closed around 1990 (the market shed is still in existance).

    Too bad Western and Chene-Ferry Markets could not survive . But thank goodness the same fate didn't come to Eastern Market... I love that place.

  2. #2


    Western Market was, indeed, between 18th and Humboldt, and from Michigan up to Butternut. The center city-run stalls were not much different from those at Eastern Market, including an office for the Marketmaster (I think he was called). On the east side of 18th and the west side of Humboldt were the associated wholesale stores, including meat and dry goods. I just went to Google Street View and there isn't a building left of the old complex.

    There was one restaurant in the place (on Humbldt) called "Gus's". Gus opened the place at 3 am, and it was packed until around 10. Dirtiest restaurant east of the Mississippi. I ate there often. Often wondered what those dark spots were in a bowl of oatmeal.

    At night, vagrants often wandered through the place dumpster diving for tossed-out goodies.

    It's my recollection that the place did a booming business all year long in the fifties and sixties. I'm trying to remember the names of some of the stores, but the only one I can recall was Nor-Les Wholesale (candy, cigarettes, etc.)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009


    ...and people in authority in the city back then thought moving cars to Toledo was more important than that? Christ, people were dumb back then. People always complain about the city's current leadership, and rightfully so. But stuff like this really makes me wonder, as someone who wasn't around back then, whether the leaders in the 50s and 60s weren't even worse.

  4. #4


    Remember that part of the driving force for the building of the freeways in those days was "slum clearance." Like the Chrysler Fwy. and Hastings St. and Paradise Valley. Or the Lodge construction that was used to remove Chinatown. The market areas were similarly viewed as old fashioned, outmoded, undesirable, and dirty. In addition to taking out the Western Market, the Fisher Fwy. took out part of the Eastern Market, and that area was originally marked for future redevelopment as well. In fact, while the Eastern market area itself held on, most of the mixed industrial and residential area just north of there was eventually torn out by the city for redevelopment, and mostly sits empty today.

    The modern model for wholesale businesses was supposed to look more like the industrial park area that was created in that same time frame west from the Lodge to the Michigan Central tracks. And of course it was going to be better if everyone bought their food in "modern" shopping centers and super markets, like what was created for Lafayette Park.

  5. #5


    The interstate system was going to be built regardless of what those who had power in the City thought. The power resided in Washington and Lansing for the formation of the system. This is why the Interstate system is also known as the Eisenhower system. Detroit was too important to the Country back then not to have freeways to serve both the auto industry and trade with Canada.

    At the time people were thinking progressively but not holistically. They realized that the interstates would be a boon for trade, but did not realize that they would also allow folks to follow an entirely different land-use pattern.

    I've often wondered about freeway development and played different scenarios with fewer access points we could have controlled land use much better. In addition, we could have probably eliminated most of the crap you see at freeway interchanges by including gas stations or food places into the rest areas, that are found in many other parts of the country.

    We were unfortunately the gunea pig for freeways. From the Davision to the Ford we were the first to develop inter and intra urban freeways. Everyone else learned from our mistakes.

  6. #6


    In the mid fifties to the mid sixties, I thought the idea of the John Lodge Freeway and the Edsel Ford Freeways were great. I started to get doubts when the Lodge extended west from Wyoming, destroying a beautiful, divided boulevard known as James Couzens Highway. Then along came the Southfield Freeway, and I thought that one was kind of dumb.

    When the Chrysler and the Fisher were built, I was grumbling all the time about them and all the infrastructure that had to be destroyed for the right-of-way. When the Jeffries tore through the City of Detroit, I could have cried. Dumb, dumb, dumb, was my thought then, and it hasn't changed much since.

    I never paid much attention to the 696 (yes, I know it's the Walter Reuther Freeway) except for the section first built from the Lodge to I-96, but since that was in the 'burbs, it was okay with me. Besides, it got me out to my fishing hole near Milford much quicker.

    I haven't travelled much on M-59 or the Van Dyke Freeway, but since they're out in the boonies to start with, I don't think much was disturbed for them.

    Urban freeways are ugly. On the other hand, the prettiest stretch of interstate (IMHO) is I-75 from West Branch to Big Mac.

  7. Default

    There are a few photos are on the Virtual Motor City site:

    Attachment 1080

    Attachment 1081

  8. #8


    Don't forget about the Saturday tours by Preservation Wayne at EM. 10 a.m. in front of the Welcome Center. You can probably find out more from those folks, as well.

  9. #9


    CassCorridor - I suggest you look in GoogleBooks for "Western Market detroit" there is a ton of information there, you might have to dig a bit.... You find googlebooks, on the main google page, go to "more" drop-down menu on the far right and highlight books.

  10. #10


    My Mom remembers the Western Market well, Too bad she is up at the UofM in a sedated state of mind.At least Eastern is still around.

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