The Detroitists has launched!
It brings a tear to your eye when the kids grow up…
Digging Detroit is maturing. We’re going to bring you more content — both in volume and variety. Check the website often for new entries from students, historians, filmmakers, photographers, writers and more.
Digging Detroit partners Pete Kalinski, Thomas J. Reed, Jr. and Kevin Walsh will continue to serve as both curators of the city’s untold stories and contributors to new shows published from DiggingDetroit.com.
Some of Digging Detroit’s current elements will take on new brand names, and we’ll be adding more…but they’re supporting a bigger, badder DiggingDetroit.com — we invite you to as well.
Digging Detroit was founded in 2014 by Pete Kalinski, Thomas J. Reed, Jr. and Kevin Walsh. Learn more of our story at: http://diggingdetroit.com/about-us/
We’ve renamed over our previous page “The Detroitists” so Thomas can continue his great work covering awesome goings-on in the city’s culture, community and history–including his new podcast!
Digging Detroit : The Backstory : Digging Detroit’s producers share their story and vision for the show. Featuring Thomas J. Reed, Jr., Pete Kalinski and Kevin Walsh.
Kevin Walsh, “Ken Burns-On-A-Shoestring: Creating Buzz for Launch of Mini-Doc ‘Digging Detroit’”, Huffington Post, January 1, 2015.
Digging Detroit, Episode 18 : Dearborn’s Arab American Museum : Some Arab Americans in metro Detroit trace their family back five generations, to the 1880s–while some have only just arrived. To honor metro-Detroit’s extensive role in offering haven and opportunity to one of the most influential waves of immigrants to the United States, Dearborn was selected as the site for the ten-year old Arab American National Museum. Host Pete Kalinski visits with Dr. Matthew Stiffler who shares the background of the museum and takes us on a tour through Hollywood, NASA, pro sports–and the heart of the culture, the kitchen! Dr. Stiffler helps bust a few myths–most notably that there are Arab Christians, Jews and Muslims, and that the museum is a home for all nationalities who have pursued the American dream.
Digging Detroit, Episode 17 : Birthplace of the Model T, Detroit’s Ford Piquette Avenue : In 1904, Henry Ford purchased three acres beside a railroad line off Woodward and moved his new car company from Mack to Piquette Avenue. Join Digging Detroit with special guest Tom Genova and come explore the historic Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, rescued from demolition and transformed into an amazing collection of priceless cars and fascinating stories about six revolutionary years for Detroit and America.
Digging Detroit, Episode 16 : Slavery in Detroit : Detroit has historically been seen as the last station on the Underground Railroad yet many of its residents including merchants, priests and illustrious citizens such as Brush and Macomb were slaveowners. Digging Detroit meets Prof. Tiya Miles of the University of Michigan whose team of graduate and undergraduate students uncovered a history of the colonial city that few remember or care to admit. But with the past comes inspiration from Elizabeth Dennison Forth, a former slave who became a wealthy businesswoman and landowner–whose homestead is now a parking lot. Prof. Miles takes her students on a tour of the former frontier town. Topics also include:
– Assembling a team at U of M
– Painstaking research, translation and transcription
– Primary roles of slaves including concubines
– Loaning slaves
– Importance in addressing Detroit’s past as a slave-city.
Digging Detroit, Episode 15 : An Original Rosie, Marjorie Waters : In October 2015 the Guinness Record for the most Rosie the Riveters in one place was shattered in the heart of the arsenal of democracy. Over two thousand women paid tribute to the women of WWII by wearing red bandanas–and many original Rosies were there as well. Join our special guest host and author of the new book Detroit in World War II, Gregory Sumner, as he visits one of those original Rosies, Marjorie Walters of nearby Ypsilanti who from Wisconsin to find work in Detroit’s stove plants until the war began and she began her three years assembling bomber wings at Ford’s massive Willow Run plant. Marjorie shares…
– Her memories of the Depression,
– Seeing both President Coolidge and President Roosevelt,
– Pearl Harbor,
– Meeting her husband on the job and
– What she did in her spare time after a long hot day in the plant.
Digging Detroit, Episode 14 : Rails to Tales — Detroit’s Inner Greenway : Why did they cut the Dequindre Cut? What came first, Ford’s Highland Park plant or the railroad over Woodward? Are there really old railroad rails under those bumps on the road? Great questions! Join Digging Detroit and special guest host Gatini Tinsley of the Oakland Press as she spends an afternoon with Todd Scott, the leader of the non-profit rails-to-trails effort, the Detroit Greenways Coalition as he takes us on the historic sites of the future 23-mile bike loop around the city that will not only spur exercise but also commuter options and increased value in commercial and private property! Special thanks to Paul Vial, to Brian Wilson of the Benson Ford Research Center and to Mark Bowden, Romie Minor and AJ Funchess of the DPL’s Burton Collection for some awesome photos of the past for this episode!
Digging Detroit, Episode 13 : Treasures from the Burton Historical Collection at DPL : For Episode 13, curators Mark Bowden and Romie Minor share six of their favorite treasures from the Detroit Public Library’s Burton Historical Collection, celebrating its 100th year this fall.
Mark shares the story of Clarence Burton, a Detroit attorney whose passion for history sent him into attics, cellars and even chicken coops to save the heritage of his town. Mark and Romie’s treasures include:
– The wampum belt that was the deed of sale for Belle Isle
– Grace Bedell’s letter to candidate Abraham Lincoln recommending he grow whiskers
– A city directory that not only gives Ty Cobb and Henry Ford’s addresses but also is a genealogist’s dream-come-true
– The abolitionist newspaper “The Voice of the Fugitive,” written 10 years before the Civil War by a former slave
– A diary from inside Fort Detroit as Chief Pontiac lay siege for seven months
– A rare picture of Elvis Presley backstage at his only concert at Olympia stadium.
Digging Detroit, Episode 12 : WGPR TV’s 40th Anniversary : Dr. Banks’ Vision to Transform Detroit’s Media, Message and Messengers : 40 years ago, On September 29th, the nation’s first African American-owned television station was launched in Detroit by Dr. William V. Banks. Host Pete Kalinski is joined in WGPR TV’s original studio by station alumni, Karen Hudson Samuels and legendary Detroit anchor Amyre Makupson as they discuss the vision of Dr. Banks to create not only a station but a training school as well. As the WGPR Historical Society prepares not only for the anniversary and historical plaque from the state on Jefferson Avenue, it also prepares for its special exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum in January. We had a chance to catch up with seven other professionals who share there insights of the early days as well as the incredible impact of Dr. Banks plan. Topics include:
– The city’s first 24-hour television station
– A telethon to save the NAACP (on six days’ notice)
– The launchpad of successful media careers across the country
– All night movies
– The first news crew in town to use videotape instead of film
– The crowd-sourcing plan to help fund the exhibit and a museum
Digging Detroit, Episode 11 : Four Generations, One Detroit Home – The Sisoy Family : Meet Peter Sisoy and his family. In the 1920s his Russian immigrant father moved his young family from the crowds of Hamtramck to the wide-open country near the intersection of Southfield Rd. and Warren Ave. Pete and his wife of 68 years, Lorene, are joined by their two daughters and two granddaughters as they share memories of the house, Warrendale neighborhood and Detroit including the early days of howling wolves, burning crops, orchards and swimming holes through WWII and streetcars to the Grande Ballroom and sporting white gloves at Hudsons.
Digging Detroit, Episode 10 : The Assassination of Jerry Buckley, Detroit’s Voice of the People : On the 85th anniversary of the assassination of famous Detroit radio voice Jerry Buckley, Digging Detroit is proud to release its 10th episode: The Assassination of Jerry Buckley – Detroit’s Voice of the People. Author of The Purples (Amazon) and Professor Tom Klug of Margrove College’s Detroit Studies Program join host Pete Kalinski as they look at the unusual story of a voice from nowhere who took over the new world of radio, led the recall of Detroit’s mayor of just six months then was brutally gunned down in a the lobby of the Woodward Avenue LaSalle Hotel the evening of the recall–and how few are alive today who know his name.
Digging Detroit, Episode 9 : Henry the Hatter – History and Haberdashery : For its ninth episode, Digging Detroit meets Paul Wasserman, owner of Henry the Hatter, whose father Seymour purchased the haberdashery from the original Henry in the early 1950s and suddenly moved his family from New York. Hats and history go hand-in-hand as Wasserman shares the ups and downs of hat popularity as well as the trending of headwear from straw hats, caps, bowlers and fedoras to President Eisenhower’s decision to choose a Homburg for his second inauguration instead of a top hat to reflect the troubling economy. Also a look at how President’s Kennedy’s too-small hat ended hat-wearing for two generations–until Kid Rock, Paul Harvey and an uptick in downtown Detroit business and major construction on the block has made business challenging for Paul, despite the resurgence in hats.
Digging Detroit, Episode 8 : Cinema Detroit – 100 Year Old School Thrives as Indie Film : As Cinetopia opens in Detroit, a film festival of all great film festivals, one of its venues is a 100 year-old school on Cass Avenue–Cinema Detroit, owned and operated by husband and wife Paula and Tim Guthat, who followed their dream to create a venue in Detroit for independent films that were scarce in Michigan, let alone the midwest. Digging Detroit’s Pete Kalinski and Thomas J. Reed, Jr. visit with Tim and Paula, talk opening a business, keeping it fresh–and of course, some favorite movies.
Digging Detroit, Episode 7 : The Ernie Harwell Sports Collection: Digging Detroit tours the incredible Ernie Harwell Sports Collection at the Detroit Public Library with curator Mark Bowden. In 1966, Hall of Fame radio announcer Ernie Harwell donated over 7,000 sports photos to the library and began the massive collection of sports memorabilia that also includes equipment, sports cards, clippings, broadcasting equipment and even Harwell’s original music. Host Pete Kalinski discusses not only the collection’s treasures but also the generous man from Georgia who has become synonymous as summer, baseball and kindness for generations of Detroiters.
Digging Detroit, Episode 6 : The Navin Field Grounds Crew : pisode 6 of Digging Detroit features the men and women dedicated to preserving the Tigers ball field of nearly 100 years. Professional baseball was played at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull for nearly a century. The Detroit Tigers played their final game in 1999 and it took 10 years for the city to complete its demolition. In just 5 years, the weeds and trash had grown so thick that few signs remained of the once manicured lawn cherished by so many metro-Detroiters. In 2010, after hearing of a pickup game of catch after Ernie Harwell’s funeral, Tom Derry visited The Corner and was so moved by its abandonment that he encouraged his friends to bring their mowers, rakes and trash bags and they began a five year journey to return the field to baseball fans. Host Pete Kalinski visits with University of Detroit professor Jason Roche whose documentary on Derry and The Navin Field Grounds Crew, Stealing Home, won the audience award at the 2014 Freep Film Festival. We discuss the new plans for the field and the controversy of removing the natural grass.
Digging Detroit, Episode 5 : Detroit’s Nain Rouge : The legend of Detroit’s ominous red dwarf goes back over 300 years, to Cadillac’s ill-advised decision to abuse the little guy while foolishly ignore a fortune teller. In Episode #5, Digging Detroit explores the legend of the little guy as he has morphed quite a bit from the mischievous house-elf of Normandy who might fix your broken saddle to the harbinger of bad-times. The Nain Rouge has become a bad guy with a badder disposition who taunts and is taunted by sturdy Detroiters in a quickly growing Midtown tradition that includes a parade, neighborhood floats and costumes resembling Mardi Gras and a Masonic Temple speech. Join us as we look inside one of the art houses preparing for the March 22nd event and check in with an expert at the Detroit Historical Museum on this elusive fellow.
Digging Detroit, Episode 4 : Historic Detroit Theaters : The Detroit Film Theatre and the Redford Theatre are featured in Episode 4 of Digging Detroit. February is the DIA’s Detroit Film Theatre’s biggest month as sell-out crowds have now made a tradition of attending the Oscar Shorts screenings–the only place in the state you can see all the live-action and animated short films in one location. The Redford Theatre, run completely by volunteers for over 30 years, has never closed its doors–despite its Japanese theme severely decreasing attendance after WWII. Now movie-star-dinners and a social media blitz campaign has made the Redford’s rentals sell-out into 2015–for films, weddings, and even power-lifting competitions!
Digging Detroit, Episode 3 : Detroit’s Music, Vault of the Detroit Public Library : Inside the musical treasures of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection at the Detroit Public Library, begun in 1943 with an annual concert to celebrate Ms. Hackley and her incredible influence on African American music and its appreciation. Special guest: Romie Minor, Curator of the Hackley Collection.
Digging Detroit, Episode 2 : Rediscovering Detroit – One Bar at a Time : For its second episode Digging Detroit joins historian Mickey Lyons and the Detroit Bus Company examining four historic Detroit bars–as Metro Detroiters are rediscovering their city by visiting its past.
Digging Detroit, Episode 1 : Tommy’s – Inside A Detroit Speakeasy : It’s been a bar off and on since 1840, but in the summer of 2013 an archaeological team from Wayne State University did some digging to uncover a hidden staircase. A look underground with Tom Burelle, the owner of Tommy’s Detroit Bar & Grill along with Prof. Krysta Ryzewski of Wayne State.