Looking back … and forward to the Detroit movie

Sonya Reese, photo by Noah Stephens

“We lost a lot of businesses and homes. [The riots] had a negative impact on the black race.”
– Fiat Chrysler Automobiles employee Sonya Reese

I just finished an incredibly rewarding week volunteering for the Traverse City Film Festival. One of the many films that I did not see is Detroit by Mark Boal & Katherine Bigelow that opens tomorrow (Aug 4). The trailer (below) looks amazing, and Bigelow is still the only woman to win an Oscar for Best Director.

Photographer Noah Stephens has been featured before for his work in the People of Detroit series. He was hired by the film to document the people and landscape as they are 50 years after the Detroit riots of 1967.

The photo shows Fiat Chrysler Automobiles employee Sonya Reese. Sonya and her daughter Ivy were interviewed and photographed in Gordon Playground. The playground was built on the site of the blind pig where the 1967 riot began. The park was remodeled in June 2017. The park is located on the precipice of prosperity. To the east are the mansions of the beautiful Boston-Edison historic district. To the west is the Dexter Bar.

More photos at The People of Detroit: 50 Years Later and see more of Noah’s work (and hire him)at noahstephens.com.

S.S. Aquamara: The Great Lakes’ Largest Liner

aquarama-unloading-detroit

Aquamara unloading in Detroit, courtesy Marine Historical Society of Detroit

The S.S. Aquarama was the largest passenger ship ever to operate in the Great Lakes. We’ll head to Ohio (gasp) for this article on the Aquamara from Cleveland Historical:

The Aquarama began its life in 1945 as a transoceanic troop carrier called the Marine Star: 520 feet and 12,733 tons. It made only one Atlantic Ocean trip before combat ceased. Eight years later, the ship was purchased by Detroit’s Sand Products Company and taken to Muskegon, Michigan, where it underwent an $8 million, two-year conversion, and was reborn as a nine-deck luxury-class ferry capable of carrying 2,500 passengers and 160 cars. The rechristened Aquarama also touted five bars, four restaurants, two dance floors, a movie theater, a television theater, and a playroom. Special events often were held in conjunction with day or evening cruises. For example, on June 10, 1962, passengers were treated to a style show from Lane Bryant’s Tall Girl Department. The next month, evening cruisers on the Aquarama could watch the Miss World finals. Regular shipboard entertainment included musical performances, dancing, marionette shows, games, and contests.

The cruise portion of the ship’s life actually began in 1955, with tours to various Great Lakes ports and a brief stint as a “floating amusement palace” docked along Chicago’s Navy Pier. Soon after, service began focusing solely on runs between Cleveland and Detroit: six hours “door to door” with Cleveland-based passengers embarking in the morning from (and returning in late evening to) the West 3rd Street pier. For the next six years, the Aquarama was extremely popular but never profitable. Part of the problem may have been frequent “incidents”: One summer, the Aquarama backed into a seawall. A year later, it hit a dock in Cleveland. A week after that, it banged into a Detroit dock, damaging a warehouse. Alcohol issues also were recurrent: Accusations included untaxed booze and liquor sold in Ohio waters on Sunday. Still, the ship’s most likely death knell was simply high operating costs.

The Aquarama made its last trip on September 4, 1962. It then was towed back to where it had been rebuilt–Muskegon, Michigan, ostensibly to continue as cruise vessel. Unfortunately, a prohibitively large dredging investment was needed to accommodate the harbor. The Aquarama thus sat dockside—residing (but not operating) later in Sarnia, Ontario, Windsor, Ontario, and Buffalo, New York, where entrepreneurs hoped in vain to convert it to a floating casino. In 2007 the Aquarama was towed to Aliağa, Turkey, where it was broken up for scrap.

This photo from Boatnerd shows the Aquarama unloading passengers from Cleveland at Detroit’s city park next to the J.W. Westcott Co. dock, 1963. Another view.  Hartland Smith, William Hoey collection. More pics at Boatnerd.com.

Read more about the Aquamara at Wikipedia.

Lift Off: Movement Detroit Edition

Lift Off 197/365, photo by Vishal Patel

I hope everyone is ready for the launch of summer 2017. Given the tension in the world, I’ve got a feeling it will be memorable. Hopefully not in a bad way but I admit, I worry.

If you’re looking for a new and fun way to kick off the summer, consider the Movement Electronic Music Festival this Saturday – Monday (May 27-29) in downtown Detroit. It takes place every Memorial Day weekend in the birthplace of Techno music with 6 stages and over 100 acts.

View the photo bigger and see more in Vishal’s Project 365 slideshow.

View from the Smithy at Greenfield Village

Americana N°2, photo by Remus Roman

As we’re gearing up for summer, it’s a great time to think about Michigan’s many incredible museums. One of the coolest is Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford in Dearborn. They explain that the origins of Greenfield Village were with Henry Ford himself. His obsession to recreate his childhood home was a resounding success and:

…after several other restorations of buildings at their original sites, he began looking to create a village that would represent the early days of America up to the present. Working with Ford Motor Company draftsman and architect Edward L. Cutler, Ford began laying out plans for Greenfield Village.

It wasn’t meant to represent any specific place in the United States, or even serve as a particular town – Ford created Greenfield Village primarily from buildings that he had purchased and moved to the site, organizing them around a village green with a courthouse, a town hall, a church, a store, an inn and a school. He placed homes along a road beyond the green. He brought industrial buildings, such as carding mills, sawmills and gristmills to the village and made them operate.

Today, Greenfield Village is organized into seven historic districts, with real working farms, a glassblowing shop, a pottery shop and more…so that, just like Henry Ford when he surveyed his preserved birthplace, you, too, can be transported to another place and time to learn about the ordinary and extraordinary people who shaped America.

Click through for a whole lot more.

View this photo of the Smithy at Greenfield Village background bigilicious, see more in Remy’s slideshow, and also at remyroman.com.

Lots more history & museums on Michigan in Pictures.

MirrorD

2file112, photo by ansonredford

This stunning photo of the Detroit skyline was taken back in February and is the latest cover on the Michigan in Pictures Facebook.

View it bigger and see more in Donald’s Detroit slideshow.

Tons more Detroit photos on Michigan in Pictures.

Flowermagheddeon: Flower Day May 21, 2017 at Eastern Market

Flower Day at Eastern Market, photo by Eastern Market Corporation

Gardeners who would like to visit Detroit, please allow me to suggest one of the coolest places to go next weekend: Eastern Market’s annual Flower Day on Sunday, May 22 2017:

Flower Day takes place every year on the Sunday after Mother’s Day and has been a time-honored tradition of Eastern Market since 1967. Growers offer a wide variety of flowers at a great value so we recommend you come early for the best selection!

This special day is made possible through our partnership with the Metropolitan Detroit Flower Growers Association. MDFGA members arrive every year from Michigan, Ontario, and neighboring states. They share 15 acres of the heartiest varieties of flowers for this region and they’re ready to share the best strategies of how to help their flora thrive.

We also offer free convenient parcel pickups so you can explore the market throughout the day without being attached to your flats of flowers.

They direct you to their Facebook event for updates. View the photo bigger on Facebook and see lots more in Eastern Market’s 50th Annual Flower Day gallery.

PS: Thanks Brad Bennett for Flowermagheddeon – perfect word!!

PPS: As always, there will be all kinds of food & farm products there too!!

Temple Beth El by architect Minoru Yamasaki

Temple Beth El, Study #01, photo by Brian Day

Temple Beth El was established in 1850 as the first Jewish congregation in the state of Michigan. Their history page notes that there were just 60 Jews out of a population of 21,000 at that time.

The Michigan Notable Book Michigan Modern’s page on Temple Beth El says in part:

Temple Beth El is located in Bloomfield Township, Michigan, on a low rise adjacent to Telegraph Road, a wide and heavily traveled thoroughfare. Mature spruce and pine trees are present around the base of the structure to shield the worshippers from outside distractions. The unmistakable design of the sanctuary incorporates a tent-like form to recall the “Tent of Meeting” referenced in the Bible and the earliest places of worship used by the Jewish people. The cast-in-place concrete structure consists of two pairs of closely placed sloped columns, or tent poles, supporting curved ridge beams at the top of the structure and tied together by elliptical ring beams at the structure’s base. Below the ring beam is a transparent curtain wall of clear glazing that gives the illusion, from the exterior and interior that the tent-form roof is hovering above the open sanctuary space. Between the ridge beams is a transparent skylight that provides natural light into the sanctuary and further emphasizes the “lightness” of the structure. Catenary steel cables suspended between the ridge and ring beams support the gentle curve of the lead-coated copper roof which soars some seventy feet above grade.

The administrative offices, social halls and religious school are located in a one-story wing that extends north from the main entrance to the sanctuary on the building’s west elevation. The Temple Beth El comprises approximately 112,500 square feet, and can accommodate up to eighteen hundred worshippers.

Read on for more!

View the photo bigger on Facebook where there are other photos in his Metro Detroit Modern Architecture Study and see more of Brian’s photography at brianday.org.