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  1. #1

    Default Old Pre-I-94 Photos of Harper/Moross & More

    Imagine your daughter gets married.....to someone in the construction industry. He comes to you and says: "Mom and Dad, your neighborhood is going downhill. Let me build you a house just as you want it."

    This is what my dad said to my grandparents almost 60 years ago. You could buy a lot and build whatever you wanted (within reason, of course). No cookie cutter homes...every house was a statement. How cool!

    My grandparents (with my parents' help) protested their property taxes for 1957 due to I-94 construction and included photos in their protest. Interesting to see views of decimated Harper before expressway construction. Here they are, with my mother's comments in blue italics.

    (Note the East Side Drive-In in the photo)
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    "Corner of Kingsville & Harper - part of our view has become a dump lot. Harper Woods Police have been called by the women next door (on the corner) re this but they always arrive after the dumping has been done."

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    "Our view from our back yard-the block's line off our lot line"
    Note the Mobil Station at the corner of Kingsville and Harper.

    Attachment 28687
    "Real Estate house. - Empty, partly torn down. Rat infested."

    I have more vintage photos of this area if anyone is interested. I would also like to say that the phone number for the Woods Bar and Lounge was TU4-0462. How do I know this? Because it was written on several receipts my mother saved while the house was getting built. Hey, construction workers get thirsty and the bar was only a block away!

  2. #2

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    These are great! Thanks for sharing.
    Last edited by GPCharles; November-13-15 at 11:44 AM.

  3. #3

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    What amazes me is that everything was new 60 years ago and the area is already in a downward spiral

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by GPCharles View Post
    These are great! Thanks for sharing.

    I presume that is the screen of the East Side Drive In in the background of the 1st two photos.
    Yes, it is. If anyone has a map of the area from that time, it would be great if you could post it. I wonder what streets ran parallel to Harper in between Sanilac and Alstead before the freeway was built (if any). I also remember my dad telling me that the Woods Bar & Lounge was one of the last buildings to go. They were still making money, despite the construction.
    Last edited by kathy2trips; November-12-15 at 08:15 PM. Reason: extra information

  5. #5

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    where was/is alstead? i grew up there too (1970-2003) between sanilac and peerless.

  6. #6

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    ~1955

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  7. #7

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    circa 1947

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  8. #8

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    Thank you MikeM! You've posted a lot of good maps but this one is special to me.

    It appears to me that the street called Avonlane (HW)/Camely (DET) was sacrificed for the freeway. Amazing how much was undeveloped; though it still caused a lot of disruption among business on Harper in particular. Even where HW police station is seems to be blank in the 1955 map. And wasn't St. John's Hosp. built in the 40s?

  9. #9

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    Alstead runs from Kingsville (which was Detroit city limits in the 50s) down to Canyon.

  10. #10
    DetroitBoy Guest

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    Harper Woods was incorporated in the early 1950s and the area around it was open land or woods as the name suggests. Eastland opened in the late 50s along with the former Catholic high schools on Kelly Rd. St. John Hospital was opened in the mid 50s to serve the growing number of Catholic families in the area. It was such a beautiful tree lined area and adjacent to the Woods and the Farms. It was a very safe area. You could walk down Moross to Mack and go to the Woods Theater for a show and Saunders for ice cream sundaes. My sister and I would bike up from Kercheval to the 7 and Mack center for lunch there on Saturdays. To see what it has turned into now and how such a nice family town has been ruined, it just makes you sick to think about what has happened to that entire area.

  11. #11

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    Yep I've heard the derogatory "Harper Hoods" being used for some time now.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
    ~1955

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    Really a neat map, MikeM. My street in the Woods had not even been developed/ built then. And although I have lived two blocks from the Hunt Club since 1976,
    I did not know it was formally called the GP Driving and Hunt Club at the time.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by the rock View Post
    Really a neat map, MikeM. My street in the Woods had not even been developed/ built then. And although I have lived two blocks from the Hunt Club since 1976,
    I did not know it was formally called the GP Driving and Hunt Club at the time.
    I second that on the map. Very fascinating. I noticed some street names on the map that have changed or don't exist anymore -- Nesbit in St. Clair Shores, Harper Woods and Grosse Pointe Woods, Roselawn and Woodlawn in St. Clair Shores and a street called Middlepoint in Grosse Pointe Woods. Also, Yorktown in the Woods was called Overlake back then and there is a State Fair Street as far east as Harper. Great stuff.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by the rock View Post
    Really a neat map, MikeM. My street in the Woods had not even been developed/ built then. And although I have lived two blocks from the Hunt Club since 1976, I did not know it was formally called the GP Driving and Hunt Club at the time.
    In 2006 there was a dual auction (DuMochelle auction website and eBay) for an 1894 Sterling Trophy that was quite large and heavy (22-lbs) sold eventually for 37k (referenced and linked in the Grosse Pointe Racetrack thread). I've a 2011 correspondence from Nick Sinacori regarding some old NY Times archive articles that referenced the Hunt Club, however I was unable to locate the articles. The correspondence gives me the impression that Nick is knowledgeable on the Hunt Club. The Hunt Club was the home of the 1894 Trophy for decades.

  15. #15

    Default Harper and the Xway 1956-1961

    Here are two aerial photos, one from 1956 and one from 1961 showing an area slightly larger then what is shown in the 1947 map on post #7 from MikeM. The expressway took out a lot of homes at the Cadieux Harper intersection. The new Haper went into the residential area when it crossed the Xway north of Morang.
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  16. #16

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    Two Detroit police officers were injured in a shoot out on McCormick near I-94 at 10:20 this morning. Both are expected to recover.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by CassTechGrad View Post
    Here are two aerial photos, one from 1956 and one from 1961 showing an area slightly larger then what is shown in the 1947 map on post #7 from MikeM. The expressway took out a lot of homes at the Cadieux Harper intersection. The new Haper went into the residential area when it crossed the Xway north of Morang.
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    Those images are stunning. It's hard to imagine if you didn't live through it how disruptive the building of the expressways were. Even if your area was under-developed, people still had dumping, rats, construction noise, etc. to deal with. An unintended consequence of the expressways was making it easier for people to live farther and farther away and still work in Detroit.

    I'd be interested in hearing any stories of living in Detroit through the expressway construction days.

  18. #18

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    In September of 1954 I started at WSU. Drove from my home near Schoolcraft & Meyers down Grand River to W. Warren. Traffic was bumper to bumper every morning. But later that fall, the Lodge freeway opened up to Wyoming, and that was my new route. Was nice, compared to the Grand River mess. Move up seven years, and I watched the excavation of old James Couzens Highway to extend the Lodge from Wyoming to Eight Mile and beyond. James Couzens was a beautiful divided roadway, with huge elm trees in the center boulevard. I kind of cried to see them bulldozed down, but dutch elm would have wiped them out a decade later anyway.

    Southfield was also a divided roadway before the freeway went through, except north of Seven Mile it was just a four lane roadway. If I recall correctly, they built the service drives first; diverted the traffic on to them and closed the old roadways to build the overpasses.

    Don't remember much about the building of the others. Just kind of took things for granted, I guess, but then I'm old. I still miss streetcars.

  19. #19

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    There was that huge debacle in the 1950's over where the route I-75. One of the proposed routes sent it through Electric Street, which would've definitely wiped out barely-new bungalows. I-75 ended up being routed alongside the old Pennsylvania Railroad up to the Rouge Bridge, where it followed Fort Street towards the Ambassador Bridge, where it went up and demolished Vernor Highway into downtown before turning north towards up north next to Stroh's, wiping out Hastings Street in the process.

    Speaking of barely-new bungalows being torn down, if you head further up I-94, that was indeed the case at what is now the I-696 interchange.
    Last edited by mtburb; November-16-15 at 06:12 PM.

  20. #20

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    Summer of 1959, the city of Roy was newly incorporated from a rural township. The city had to provide city water and sewer to existing subdivisions which had been built with wells and septic tanks. I was midway through college and was hired for the summer as an Engineering Aide. Since I had just completed two semesters of surveying, they let me run the surveying crew marking out the rear lot lines and utility easements. The route of I-75 through Oakland County was not yet decided. Every time we set up the transit and began to stake out the lines, a mob of housewives (single income families at the time) would come pouring out of their houses to scream at me about I-75. The were sure i was routing it through their living room.

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by eastland View Post
    I second that on the map. Very fascinating. I noticed some street names on the map that have changed or don't exist anymore -- Nesbit in St. Clair Shores, Harper Woods and Grosse Pointe Woods, Roselawn and Woodlawn in St. Clair Shores and a street called Middlepoint in Grosse Pointe Woods. Also, Yorktown in the Woods was called Overlake back then and there is State Fair Street as far east as Harper. Great stuff.
    I'm always fascinated by stuff like that and I don't know why. I own a home on Koontz in Roseville, and I got an old map from 1962 at a flea market one day, and on the map it showed that the first block north of 10 Mile was called Karla, than Koontz (the streets are offset at the first cross street, Church).

  22. #22

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    Anyone else with some pictures of this area please post. I was born in 79 and I love looking at these old pictures.

  23. #23

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    Wow.
    Correct in assuming the Mobil station was on the SW corner of Harper & Kingsville?

    Was the bar on the west side too? I have no memory of that.

    I grew up within spitting distance of there. My memories of west side of Harper Ave pre-I-94 are very fuzzy. Best I can remember is Dr. DiPierro the dentist a block or two north of the Mobil station.
    Last edited by mikefmich; November-17-15 at 02:53 PM.

  24. #24

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    Another I-94/Harper story is the freeway was supposed to straight out Harper through St. Clair Shores. But the mayor at the time, Tom Welsh, fought MDOT and got them to re-route the freeway because he didn't want it dividing the city. That's why there is the big curve near 8 Mile.

  25. #25

    Default Harper & Moross intersection 1956 - 1961

    This show the Harper-Moross intersection before and after the X Way was built.
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