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The Campus Martius (Field of Mars) in front of Detroit City Call in 1900.
PHOTO CAPTION: The Campus Martius (Field of Mars) in front of Detroit City Call in 1900.

Car Counting in Detroit

This photograph as taken in 1900. It features Detroit's city hall, the Campus Martius (Field of Mars) in front of it, the soldier and sailor's memorial, and the transportation options of the day: the horse and carriage, pedestrians, pushcart vendors, a streetcar, and a half dozen bicycles. What you won't see, however, is a single motorcar. Not one. Think about that for a moment. What would become 'Motor City' and there's not an automobile of any kind to be seen in the very heart of the city that gave birth to the automobile age.

Instead you see a fairly tranquil scene of men chatting on their bikes in the middle of the street. Women stroll with parasols. Pushcart vendors hawk their wares. Carriage drivers wait for fares. It's an amazing sight of a city that offered both a dignified and relaxed atmosphere at its wealthiest center. What day of the week the photograph was taken isn't known, so it's possible this was a quiet weekend. Still, it clearly illustrates a less harried time in which I think not a few of us would not mind spending a few hours if we could travel back in time.

For a high resolution version of the above photo, click here. For a wider angle view of the same location, click here.


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