Postcard. Dietsche Remembrance Shop and Auto Tours, Detroit, MI. circa 1910
Still suffering pandemic lockdown?
How about a virtual sightseeing trip to Detroit?
Long before Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, and so many other wonderful musical artists gave us the “Motown Sound,” Detroit was labeled “Motor City” when the explosive growth of the automobile industry made Detroit the fourth largest city in the nation by 1920.
Automotive pioneers like Henry Ford, Ransom Olds, Walter Chrysler and the Dodge Brothers, established Detroit as the world’s automotive capital. Henry Ford test drove his first automobile in Detroit. Detroit was the first city to use stop signs, lane markings, traffic signals and marked pedestrian crossings, and the city had the first traffic cops and traffic courts.
After devastating fire of 1805 leveled the city of Detroit, Territorial Judge Augustus B. Woodward laid out a new city plan fashioned after cities like Washington D.C. and Paris, with broad avenues that radiated outward and traffic circles that opened the city to the world. Woodward Avenue, known as “Detroit’s Main Street,” was named in the Judge's honor, and it flows through the heart of the city, providing access to local businesses and a receptive welcome to visitors and sightseers.
Just after the turn of the twentieth century, as Detroit was enjoying immense population growth, postcard publisher and retailer, A. C. Dietsche saw the commercial potential of a business corner at Woodward Avenue and Larned Street. The corner was in the center of Detroit's commercial district, a place where he could sell Detroit souvenirs, postcards, booklets, valentines, and cigars! His well-positioned Remembrance Shop was also the headquarters for Dietsche’s “Seeing Detroit” bus tours. Not only was Detroit attracting thousands of newcomers and visitors, but postcards were at their peak; the “Golden Age of Postcards” was in full swing; postcards were the social media of the day, and sales were soaring!
Postcard. A. C. Dietsche’s Remembrance Shop, Detroit, Mich. Circa 1910.
Note postcards on racks, walls, and ceiling!
Newspaper advertisements for Dietsche’s shop were small, but frequently posted in the Detroit Free Press from 1906 to 1910, offering gifts, mementos, and postcards in all categories, including holidays, scenic views, and the State Fair; especially popular were postcards depicting the Detroit Tiger baseball stars, Ty Cobb, Bill Donovan, Sam Crawford, Ed Summers, and others during their American League pennant years of 1907-09. If a postcard collector ever wanted to go back in time (and we all do), Dietsche's shop would be a prime destination!
In addition to the postcard and souvenir shop, Dietsche acquired a fleet of seven three-ton Packard, open mini-busses between 1910 and 1915, each designed to carry twenty to thirty passengers. The Dietsche Sight-Seeing Company afforded visitors a look at the famous Bell Isle Park, the beautiful Detroit River, and the grand boulevards, handsome residences, and modern buildings of the city. The Packard Automobile Company was proud that Mr. Dietsche employed their multi-passenger vehicles, and Packard featured them in a large advertisement in the Detroit Free Press on May 7, 1916:
All through the day, these touring cars stood ready and waiting at 83 Woodward Ave., but the location was not without controversy. In 1915, a competing touring company took Dietsche to court, claiming that the shop illegally monopolized parking spaces on Woodward by keeping their busses in front of the shop continuously. When one bus was full of paying customers, the Dietsche drivers would pull another bus alongside and transfer the passengers, thus preventing the parking spaces from becoming available. An account of the complaint ran in the Detroit Free Press on August 7, 1915, under the headline:
The outcome of the dispute is not recorded, but Mr. Dietsche may have been a determined man. He knew that the location at 83 Woodward Ave., was prime commercial real estate and, of course, it still is today. In a 1910 photo one can see the Dietsche touring cars outside the shop in the lower right corner and, in a more recent photo, it is apparent that big business still claims that corner today.
Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI, 1910.
Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI, today.
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine