This site was last updated April 10, 2017
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A salute to those providing service during wartime
Thank you for taking the time to visit! We are a historical-based website focused on the evolution and story of this: the southern Detroit area best known by the moniker "Downriver."
From its humble beginnings as an off-shoot of emerging French settlements along the river south of the new Fort Pontchartrain in the early 1700s, we visit its pioneering steel and chemical industries, and how each of our eighteen cities and townships have uniquely evolved since initially plotted in the 1827 Michigan Territorial Survey. If Detroit was once called "The Arsenal of Democracy," Downriver definitely gave its share toward making that arsenal possible.
The challenge factor in creating a central site is definitely there. Memories do blur, times & locations may shift, but we found our contributors' enthusiasm unmistakable and their resolve unshakable. We believe our mission statement sums it up nicely.
Our membership is now driven by the new Facebook group, Downriver History & Facts. The group, although small, help keep the memories alive, while also creating new, often forgotten recollections. With hopes of becoming a universal area resource, we welcome all visitor input and contributions to aid in telling our story.
No matter where your interest lies, be it person, place or thing contained within our chronology or 2,600+ photos, we aim to have your answer.
From all of us - we hope you find the journey brings fun and historical enrichment!
- KEVIN HARRISON, webmaster
COMING SOON: Historical weather narratives as they happened
One piece of information brought to our attention which completely slipped our minds is one of the most basic things seen Downriver on a daily basis: the weather. We are fortunate to live in a moderately temperate climate to where extreme weather are rare, but notable incidents have occurred. Did you know that our worst snowstorm in local recorded history occurred in April (of all months) of 1886? Or that the big winter storm people remember from January, 1978 doesn't even crack the Top 25 biggest snowstorms on record? In just this decade, do you know we already have had two rainstorms noted as "100 year rainfalls" just since 2000? Keep your eyes primed on our main history section in the coming weeks as we fill the weather gaps!
After meetings which took place the prior year between representatives of Henry Ford and Oakwood Health systems, an official merger proposal was voted down by the two competing bodies. This proposal would have combined Seaway Hospital (today's Beaumont Southshore campus) with Riverside Osteopathic Hospital on the east end of town to form one hospital. Oakwood would bow out of any future talks in an attempt to focus restoration efforts on Seaway alone. Henry Ford Health Systems wanted Wyandotte General Hospital and Riverside to partner together. Riverside was also entertaining a takeover bid by Horizon Health Systems at this time, with reactions mixed at best.
Taylor City officials had recently announced the City Hall site on Goddard and Pine streets was desperately in need of a makeover, including a significant upsizing. Plans were in the works to move to a temporary facility while the renovation work was being conducted. In the radar was the former headquarters of Guaranty Federal Savings on Eureka Road across from the Meijer store, which was currently being run by National Bank of Detroit (NBD). A public hearing to discuss this proposal was slated for January 21st at 7:00 PM. The approximate purchase cost of the site was $2.3 million, while NBD would continue operating a bank branch there. City Hall, at the time, was 21,000 square feet in area; plans called for a 25,000 square foot addition, with a new council chambers. The hall had originally been built in the mid-1950s, with the second floor being added in 1968, two years before Taylor Township became a city.
The Wyandotte Theate, Elm and 1st Street, was not ringing 1977 in with much fanfare. A fire, reportedly an arson attempt, was started in the lobby but confined quickly to a floor mat only. Smoke bombs had also been set off on the property one week prior. Grumblings led to the possibility that these events were part of union reaction to the new owners of the facility, who were trying to turn it around from its brief foray into adult theater. Ron Sloan was the new owner, saying he desired to build the theater back up from what it was, which was attributable to former employees showing no pride. Sloan would go anti-union, with any current employees favoring the union being let go. The Theater would then be reported by various agencies, including the Projectionists Union, with three unfair labor practice suits having been filed in December, 1976.
Wyandotte's first urban renewal project was recently put into action, and would result in the loss of storefronts bordering Sycamore, Biddle, Eureka and Third Street (where the current City Hall is located). The land was finally being offered for sale; a 29.3 acre, T-shaped project. Federal clearances and the prerequisite paperwork were hoped for by February or March of 1967. Fourteen parcels were still awaiting demolition in January as these were somehow tied up in the court system on a jurist's level. This would further delay the overall project's completion from its beginnings back in 1963.
Wayne County takes over McLouth
Early in April, it was announced that the Trenton McLouth Steel facility, operated the past two decades by DSC, has been seized by Wayne County due to $3.7 million in unpaid back taxes. Additionally, we found several more links and will be adding to the McLouth story soon.