Photographic and Historical Record of Detroit’s Dissolving Outdoor Advertisements

Detroit outdoor advertising wall signs are nearly gone.

Most of the architectural canvas is gone too.

Uneeda Biscuit was incredibly successful on the East Coast with the original idea of wall advertising. Uneeda Biscuit was the first product of the National Biscuit Company (NBC, now Nabisco).


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Detroit: Write On !

And thou shalt write […] upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates  –  Deuteronomy 11:20 As the Detroit urban landscape suffers abandonment and the population dwindles, the desire and motivation to deliver a hand-written public statement to inspire and alert are stymied by lack of people and walls. The longtime resource […]

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Hair Today-Gone Tomorrow in Detroit

Hair care in Detroit is a huge cash business. Beauty salons, predominantly female owned, and male-owned barbershops, take on unwanted retail space in nearly-impossible locations along major streets. The goal is to establish an independent money flow in the city’s often-difficult financial environment, and involves spending long hours on your feet. Building a regular client […]

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MultiColor Motown – Focus on Green

A subtle green-trimmed sign in front of the Paris Hotel on St. Aubin Street in Detroit reads,“Your Home Away From Home Since 1952”  Now abandoned, the hotel sits forlorn in a desolate location. Green is not the most popular  architectural color in Detroit, but Glass House Hand Car Wash survives, and makes a brilliant statement […]

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Finding Curtis Lewis

I was driving North on Schaefer Avenue, south of Fenkell Street, in Detroit. I noticed on the right a bold commercial wall, a painted advertisement — “I Make Stars” — for Bill Cason Photography. I stopped to admire it. Upon closer investigation, I noticed the signature of Curtis Lewis at the lower left of the […]

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MultiColor Motown – Focus on Blue

Blue is not the most common color in Detroit architecture – it competes with the sky and is hard to see at night – but it’s a constant in the landscape.  Spray Services is a current business that supplies paint equipment for auto repair. Sam’s Auto Parts’ sign still stands on 8 Mile, and OK […]

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Billy Davis – Mr. Music History

I walked into the cavernous Bert’s Warehouse Stage in Detroit’s Eastern Market for a photo shoot at the 2018 Detroit A Go Go Friday night show. A trim guitarist with red shoes was tearing up the stage, bending strings, backed by the house band that featured a 10-year-old harmonica player, Mighty Michael Mendelson. I would […]

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MultiColor Motown – Focus on Red

Detroit’s transportation arteries are bright red. Streetscape architecture needs a gimmick to attract the fleeting attention of passing motorists.  In this instalment of Multicolor Motown I’ve gathered examples of the use of red in advertising and landscape. What few examples of red neon signage still found in Detroit stand boldly against the elements. Kowalski “Kowality” […]

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Multicolor Motown – Focus on Yellow

The progression of Detroit’s commercial archeology is linear. One-story buildings have replaced others demolished to accommodate widened transportation routes now striped in yellow. These wide corridors service manufacturing, retail, and Downtown Detroit. To attract the attention of passing motorists, retail buildings are painted in yellow striping paint. It is durable and hard to miss. The […]

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Willie Jones – The Secret Heart of Detroit Soul

There he was on stage, dressed in a red satin suit: the 82-year-old veteran showman Willie Jones. He was in his element performing Friday night at Detroit A Go Go 2018, four live shows of ventage Detroit performing artists  at Bert’s Warehouse in Detroit’s Eastern Market. The event was produced by Brits Phil and Kim […]

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