From an industrial machine, to an industrial wasteland, to a State Park and tourist destination; the Detroit riverfront has gone through many changes in a relatively short period of time. Today there may be marinas, fishing piers, parks, and paved trails, but only a few decades ago the area to the east of Hart Plaza known as the “Warehouse District” or “Rivertown”, was not nearly so hospitable.
These selections from the Documenting Detroit Collection show the area as it was in the 1970s and ‘80s, prior to major redevelopment and improvement that started with the Renaissance Center. Before Chene Park Amphitheatre, Stroh River Place, Harbortown, or Mt. Elliott Park, factories, rail yards, and silos dominated the landscape. You can find many more images of the area by searching our online digital collection.