One of the signs that the holidays are approaching that I see on Michigan in Pictures is a surge of visits to the post about Holiday Shopping at J.L. Hudson in Detroit. Hudson’s was demolished in 1998, but the store remains a cherished memory for many.
Wikipedia’s entry for the J.L. Hudson Department Store and Addition says that the building was designed by Smith, Hinchman, & Grylls and named after the company’s founder, Joseph Lowthian Hudson. Construction began in 1911 with many additions throughout the years before being “completed” in 1946. Hudson’s Department Store at Historic Detroit has some great photos and a lot of facts:
- The store was 2,124,316 square feet, making it second in size among department stores to only Macy’s in New York. Even then, Macy’s is only 26,000 square feet bigger.
- The store was spread out over 32 floors: 25 floors, two half-floors, a mezzanine and four basements.
- At 410 feet, Hudson’s was the tallest department store in the world.
- The building had 51 passenger elevators, 17 freight elevators, eight employee elevators and 48 escalators. Its largest freight elevator could accommodate a semi trailer.
- Hudson’s had to have three transformer centers in the store: They generated enough juice to power a city of about 20,000.
- The store had 39 men’s restrooms, 50 for women and 10 private ones for executives. The largest was a women’s lounge on the fourth floor that had a whopping 85 stalls.
- It had 705 fitting rooms, a world record.
- The dining rooms and cafeterias served an average of 10,000 meals a day – not counting the 6,000 meals a day served in the employee cafeteria on the 14th floor. The 13th floor dining room was renowned for its Maurice salad and Canadian cheese soup.
- The store originally had 18 entrances and 100 display windows, which were changed weekly.
- The store featured more than 200 departments across an incredible 49 acres of floor space, and it featured about 600,000 items from 16,000 vendors from 40 countries. The building had 51 elevators serving its 17 floors of retail.