Detroit: Evolution of a City is an interactive look at the growth, decline, and revival of the city of Detroit through historic and present-day pictures.
To move back and forth between the old picture and the new, click and drag on the green bar in the center of the image. You can also click anywhere inside the image, and the slider will automatically move to that point.
If you're interested in doing this yourself, there are two components in shooting pictures that match up with historic ones: Location and composition.
Location can be determined by basic information provided by the picture, such as place and street names, signage, notable buildings nearby, and captions. Approximate locations can be further refined by studying aerial photography, detailed fire insurance maps, blueprints, publications, and Google Maps.
Composition is a matter of guesswork. The type of camera used in the original picture can usually be determined by the size of the film negative. The focal length of the lens is a little bit harder to figure, but through trial and error a similar shot can be achieved. Along with other characteristics present in the picture such as depth of field and distortion, it's possible to guess how far the photographer was standing from the subject.
To achieve a relatively seamless transition between old and new photos, most images have been digitally altered in some way. Alterations may include cropping, rotating, erasing and moving some elements within pictures. Both original photos and current photos are no longer completely faithful to the original images, and should be considered composite works. These alterations are purely cosmetic, and are not intended to change the historic content of the pictures.
For historic images, copyright is held by the original creator, as noted in the caption. For current pictures, unless otherwise noted the copyright is held by Detroiturbex.com.
If you have a historic picture of the city or its buildings that you would like to see in this series, we gladly accept submissions. Contact us at the link below.
If you would like use these pictures, please contact us before doing so.
From time to time this series will be updated as buildings change. Our Facebook page will list the most recent changes and additions.
Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library
Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan
Reuther Library, Wayne State University
Library of Congress
Dr. Adnan Aabed, Frontier Academy
Elaina Holsey, University Prep Science + Math Schools
Dan Austin, Historicdetroit.org
Cynthia Korolov, Detroit Symphony Orchestra Archives
Gabrielle Poshadlo, Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Roger Lesinski, Broderick Tower