Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2007 Still photos of Detroit from 90 years ago Previous Next
Top of pageBottom of page

Mikeg
Member
Username: Mikeg

Post Number: 686
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Sunday, March 11, 2007 - 9:24 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The skyline of Detroit as it appeared from the Windsor side of the river, circa 1917.

Detroit skyline


These photos were taken by a man named Louis Schicker. In 1917, he was a member of the Detroit Fire Department and also an avid amateur photographer. Later he was drafted into the US Army and he served as the photographer for the 310th Engineers in North Russia, where they fought the Red Army. These soldiers who fought in North Russia were primarily from Detroit and elsewhere in Michigan and were known as the "Polar Bears". Many years later, he donated a large number of his photos to the U of M's Bentley Library, which has recently digitized their "Polar Bear Collection". It was here that I found these 1917 images of Detroit interspersed with his North Russia photos.

One advantage of being a fireman back then was that you could get access to the roof tops of many of the tallest buildings in the city. Fortunately, Mr. Schicker took his camera along with him and used it when he went to the rooftops in downtown Detroit and today we can see the views he had back in 1917.

According to his handwritten caption, the photo below was taken atop the Dime Bank building, which is located on the corner of Fort St. and Griswold. The man in the photo is a member of the Detroit Fire Department, possibly Louis Schicker himself.

Dime, top


The next photo was also taken atop the Dime Bank building, looking northwest along Griswold. The angular building at the bottom of the frame was on the corner of Michigan and Griswold. The streetcar is in the middle of the intersection of Griswold and State St.

Dime, north


The photo below did not have a caption, but it appears that it was taken looking southwest from downtown along Fort Street, most likely from atop the Dime Bank Building.

Dime?, southwest


According to his handwritten caption, the next photo was taken looking east from atop the Statler Hilton Hotel, which was located at Washington Blvd. and Grand Circus Park.

Statler, east


The photo below was taken looking north from atop the Statler Hilton Hotel.

Statler, north


This final photo did not have a caption, but it appears that it was taken looking south from atop a building on the east side of Washington Blvd. between Grand River and Clifford.

unknown, south



I have also posted some of Mr. Schicker's Detroit Fire Department images over on the Firehouse thread.
Top of pageBottom of page

Ray1936
Member
Username: Ray1936

Post Number: 1204
Registered: 01-2005
Posted on Sunday, March 11, 2007 - 10:18 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Good find, Mike. The one looking east showing the Wayne County Building makes one shudder for all the smoke/pollution pouring forth from those smokestacks. Contrary to the thinking of many Greenies, we are doing a good job cleaning this stuff up.
Top of pageBottom of page

Wolverine
Member
Username: Wolverine

Post Number: 288
Registered: 04-2004
Posted on Sunday, March 11, 2007 - 11:10 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Impressive. It's interesting seeing the Book Building without the tower in the last photo.
Top of pageBottom of page

Ventura67
Member
Username: Ventura67

Post Number: 114
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Sunday, March 11, 2007 - 11:40 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Hard to believe how dense the city's core once was.
Top of pageBottom of page

Johnlodge
Member
Username: Johnlodge

Post Number: 210
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Sunday, March 11, 2007 - 11:46 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"Later he was drafted into the US Army and he served as the photographer for the 310th Engineers in North Russia, where they fought the Red Army. These soldiers who fought in North Russia were primarily from Detroit and elsewhere in Michigan and were known as the "Polar Bears". "

Pardon my possible ignorance on the subject,but are you saying that American soldiers directly and publically waged war against the USSR? I am not familiar with any such conflict! Please tell me any more you know about this!
Top of pageBottom of page

Ookpik
Member
Username: Ookpik

Post Number: 131
Registered: 01-2007
Posted on Sunday, March 11, 2007 - 11:52 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)





Polar Bear monument at White Chapel cemetery in Troy.

Read about the Polar Bears:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_Bear_Expedition

When the came back from Russia, I think they had a reception on Belle Isle.
Top of pageBottom of page

Mikeg
Member
Username: Mikeg

Post Number: 687
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 12:03 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Thanks Ookpik for the intro....

I was the primary author of that Wikipedia article, but this article I wrote for a UK veteran's group newsletter is probably a little better explanation of the American Intervention into the Russian Civil War, aka the "Polar Bear Expedition".

5,000 American doughboys from the 85th "Custer" Division were diverted from their intended destination of the Western Front and sent to Archangel, Russia in the closing days of the Great War. Some of their bloodiest battles were fought on and after Armistice Day. They arrived home on July 3rd and the parade and picnic on Belle Isle was held the following day, July 4th, 1919.

Much more information can be found on the Polar Bear Memorial Association's web site.

(Message edited by Mikeg on March 12, 2007)
Top of pageBottom of page

Johnlodge
Member
Username: Johnlodge

Post Number: 213
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 12:03 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I read the article OokPik, but I'm still confused. Damnit, High school, college, and the History channel NEVER spend enough time talking about WWI. In the end, Russia was our ally, correct? Yet here we are fighting the russians to make sure allied stockpiles don't fall into their hands? SIGH, this story is probably to long to explain here, I guess I'll have to revisit WWI and figure this out.
Top of pageBottom of page

1st_sgt
Member
Username: 1st_sgt

Post Number: 45
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 9:00 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Try this link to WWI history.
http://www.worldwar1.com/dbc/

This one for the polar bear expedition.

http://www.worldwar1.com/dbc/l ookingbacksib.htm

http://www.worldwar1.com/dbc/siberia.htm


(Message edited by 1st_sgt on March 12, 2007)
Top of pageBottom of page

Rjk
Member
Username: Rjk

Post Number: 638
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 10:30 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Really interesting stuff.

I plan to give the info on this thread a good looking over when I have some free time.

Anyone read any of the books from the link below and have an opinion on which one would be the best to pick up?
http://pages.prodigy.net/mvgro bbel/photos/polarbearbooks.htm
Top of pageBottom of page

Rfban
Member
Username: Rfban

Post Number: 44
Registered: 02-2004
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 11:59 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"Contrary to the thinking of many Greenies, we are doing a good job cleaning this stuff up."

Perhaps this is because we lost much of our manufacturing and industrial base. But yes, I agree we are cleaner now. I think the largest impact was when we stoped using coal to heat our homes, cities became much cleaner.
Top of pageBottom of page

1st_sgt
Member
Username: 1st_sgt

Post Number: 46
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 1:57 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

http://www.worldwar1.com/dbc/p _bears.htm

More polar bear Information.
Top of pageBottom of page

1st_sgt
Member
Username: 1st_sgt

Post Number: 47
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 2:04 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

http://info.detnews.com/histor y/story/index.cfm?id=178&categ ory=life

The Detroit news item about the polar bears
Top of pageBottom of page

B24liberator
Member
Username: B24liberator

Post Number: 60
Registered: 01-2007
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 2:17 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

JohnLodge, You're right there's not enough mentioned or taught about WW1-- The mess that is Iraq, or Africa today has many "roots" there, not to mention in some ways, WW2 was an extension of the Great War... I forget which great historian said it, but the twentieth century (i.e. our modern world) didn't really begin with the turn of the last century, but truly started with the end of WW1-- Things such as the sweeping away of the old tired european monarchies, the beginning of the end of colonial expansion, as well as the technological leaps made by the combatants of what really was the first industrialized modern "total war"... Most of the "modern" world was born following WW1, the good things as well as the bad...
Top of pageBottom of page

Mikeg
Member
Username: Mikeg

Post Number: 688
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 3:28 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

Anyone read any of the books from the link below and have an opinion on which one would be the best to pick up?



The top three books on that page focus on the American aspects of the Intervention in North Russia, plus they are still in print and available for sale new. I have read all three and I would recommend "Russian Sideshow, America's Undeclared War, 1918-1920", by Robert L. Willett as a first choice. This book also covers the AEF Siberia portion of the Intervention. "When Hell Froze Over" focuses only on the North Russia portion of the Intervention, which is where the "Polar Bears" fought, however, it takes a more scholarly approach than "Russian Sideshow" and thus it would be my second choice as a recommendation.

"The History of The American Expedition Fighting the Bolsheviki" is also an excellent book, but it was written for the Polar Bear veterans by a group of their officers and it uses a writing style that is more appropriate for the knowledgeable insider or historical researcher.
Top of pageBottom of page

Quinn
Member
Username: Quinn

Post Number: 1189
Registered: 01-2005
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 4:54 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Awesome! Who is that cop trying to rescue from jumping? hahahaha
Top of pageBottom of page

Ray1936
Member
Username: Ray1936

Post Number: 1210
Registered: 01-2005
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 6:14 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

"I think the largest impact was when we stoped using coal to heat our homes, cities became much cleaner."

Sure cleaned up the basement coal bins. And Quinn, that's not a cop, it's a fireman.
Top of pageBottom of page

Bulletmagnet
Member
Username: Bulletmagnet

Post Number: 104
Registered: 01-2007
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 1:40 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

It was once considered a sign of good economic health to have smoke belching from every stack in the city. Nice find on the photos Mikem. I always thought it would be handy to have a camera with me in jobs that took me aloft, like the tree trimmers in bucket trucks, or window washers. You get a vantage point unlike aircraft, or being on the ground. Just having your head poking out of the tree tops or in some impossible cranny of a building can give a unique view. Thanks for the photos and the slice of our war history.
Top of pageBottom of page

Royce
Member
Username: Royce

Post Number: 2113
Registered: 07-2004
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 7:02 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

My parents' house and the house I grew up in was built in 1917. Ninety years old and still going strong. I'll visit my parents and the house later this week.
Top of pageBottom of page

56packman
Member
Username: 56packman

Post Number: 1102
Registered: 12-2005
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 7:23 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The Fox-Washington theatre is visible in the bottom picture, on the left side of Washington Blvd., with the filigree on the cornice. Not many pictures of that house exist, and certainly from that angle. Great photos, thanks for sharing them.
Top of pageBottom of page

Esp
Member
Username: Esp

Post Number: 42
Registered: 09-2005
Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2007 - 9:28 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I've seen the Polar Bear monument out at White Chapel cemetery many times unaware of the history. Great to now know the story and great Detroit photos 1917.

Add Your Message Here
Posting is currently disabled in this topic. Contact your discussion moderator for more information.