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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Detroit Bookmobile at Cadillac Square, 1940

This press photo from 1940 shows a cab-over tractor trailer truck serving as a bookmobile, or Branch Library on Wheels, from the Detroit Library Commission, which governed the  Detroit Public Library. This rig full of books is parked and posing at Cadillac Square.


Most photos I've seen, or have in my collection, depict bookmobiles as more of the van or motorhome-looking variety, so it's nice to have something different like this in my collection.

An editor's crop marks appear in the margins and just under the rear wheels of the truck. In the background is a building with the name Sam's and ads for discount merchandise. The reverse side of the photo identifies the location and date, as well as editor's notes, and the photographer's name--McGraw, whom I've determined to be Howard McGraw.


Curious about the location, I searched the Internet for images of Cadillac Square and found the one below from DetroitYes.com. It has a bird's eye view of the area with Sam's in the foreground with the triangular plaza in front where the bookmobile parked that February day in 1940. The site mentions, in regard to this photo, that the building then occupied by Sam's used to be the Opera House.


I also see Hudson's (tall building, background-left), which was the tallest department store building in the world at one time and second only to Macy's in square footage. Among its retail offerings were books and I recently came across a book shop label from their book department, but the Seven Roads Gallery of Book Trade Labels can do me two better with their selection, as shown below: 

And below is the same building when it was the Detroit Opera House. This photo was found at SeekingMichigan.org. Click the link provided to read about the Detroit Opera House's brush with The Wizard of Oz. Think witch! Good witch, that is.









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