Shorpy Saturday – Desert Hero: 1919

By Jeffrey Buck

In honor of the event being held today at the David Broderick Tower, which we will be attending and posting pictures of afterwards, I thought it would be fitting to take a glance at what its predecessor was. As we celebrate the future of a building that’s been neglected for years let’s take a trip back in time seven years before construction started on the Tower. In the photogrpah there are certain things that I feel important to point out:

  1. David Whitney Building (located on the west side of Woodward) has not been stripped of any of its features. It was constructed between 1914 and 1915 in a Neo-Renaissance style of architecture. The building, as it stands today, bares almost no resemblance to the building we see in the photograph. It’s simple, plain and in mu opinion hideous above the initial few floors. Fortunately the inside of the building hasn’t been “modernized” and the new owners of the property have talked about restoring the building back to its original facade. Plans call for residential and a boutique hotel.
  2. The now demolished Hudson’s Building can be seen down the Woodward corridor. It is still in its beginning stages and wouldn’t be completely finished until 1946. Several additions would be added over the years.
  3. The Madison Theatre, now owned by billionaire Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans, is no longer a theatre. That portion of the building was demolished. The office portion of the building has recently been renovated and will house tech start-ups. It is also home to an Italian restaurant, Angelina Italian Bistro, and a StubHub satellite office.
  4. Our beloved People Mover is still years and years away from making its debut. Until then people had to ride on streetcars! An idea we are finally going back to, it’s about time.
  5. Like the People Mover, major downtown attractions and buildings not present are The Ren Cen, Compuware Building, The Detroit Opera House (Current Location), One Detroit Center and the original Greektown Casino parking garage.

Take a look at the photograph entitled “Desert Hero: 1919“:

Detroit circa 1919. “View of Madison Theatre and Woodward Avenue.” Now playing: “Choosing a Wife” and Fatty Arbuckle in “A Desert Hero.” 8×10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company.



Here is a street view of the same area within the last few years:



About Jeffrey S. Buck

I'm currently a Project Manager at Cypress Partners, LLC in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. I graduated from Wayne State University in 2008 with a B.A. in Journalism. Looking to broaden my view of the world, I spent a semester abroad studying at the University of Salford, a Greater Manchester University in England. I enjoy doing an array of activities, including following Detroit sports teams, SCUBA diving, traveling, reading, playing tennis, hand-written letters and going to the movies. I am the co-founder of the Woodward Spine, a blog about Detroit and its surrounding communities. The Woodward Spine aims to inform its readers about relevant news and events through creative and informative posts in these core areas: news, opinion, entertainment, history, sports and development. The Woodward Spine serves the tri-county metro Detroit area, concentrating mainly on the communities that lie along the Woodward corridor.
This entry was posted in Detroit, Shorpy Saturday and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s