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C OLEMAN ’S T R O L L E Y

D O M I N I C R. SONDY


C OLEMAN ’S TROLLEY IMAGES OF DOWNTOWN DETROIT AS SEEN FROM THE “PEOPLE MOVER”

DOMINIC R. SONDY

© Vintage Image / Dominic R. Sondy (2008) All rights reserved. Images contained in the this document may not be copied, reproduced or republished in any way; including e-mail or other electronic means.


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oleman Young, Detroit Mayor (1973-94), proposed the construction of a transportation attraction for Downtown Detroit. In 1987 an elevated tram was completed ahead of schedule and unimaginatively named The Detroit People Mover . The DPM is a fully automated monorail, running in one direction, along a 2.9 mile-long closed-circuit course. The Detroit People Mover continues to trundle along, usually empty, endlessly cycling through its thirteen stops . Despite a remarkable performance record, the trolley with an uninspired name has had an unintended design flaw since its conception: windows. The problem with the DPM’s windows is that they are transparent. Sure, most windows are transparent and are intended to be looked through. But, as people are moved to the restaurants of Greektown, the walled fortress of the Renaissance Center or to the pastits-prime Cobo Hall Convention Center they are treated to less-than-flattering scenes of Detroit. Detroit’s former glories as well as its neglect are prominent features of the tour. The following images were all photographed through the windows of Coleman’s Trolley.

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D E T R O I T’ S THEATERS

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Downtown Detroit was once the entertainment center for a busy metropolis. Grand Circus Park was a hub for the once-thriving thriving entertainment industry and had a magnificent theater that shared the Grand Circus name. Now, Grand Circus Park is just another seldom used stop along the People Mover circuit and the Grand Circus Theater’s dangling marquee serves as an illustration of the narcolepsy that envelopes this once vital downtown. There is an ongoing effort to preserve some of the theaters. The Fox Theater is the only Detroit venue that has been renovated so far and is not viewable from DPM. The unique Art Deco terra cotta facade of National Burlesque has graced Detroit since 1911 and has the next best chance of survival.

Top: Metropolitan Bottom: National Burlesque Right: Grand Circus 6


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D O W N T O W N LIBRARY

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he Detroit People Mover does not stop at the “fountain of wisdom.”

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T HE S T A TL ER HOTEL

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At one time Detroit was a destination. When people came to Detroit on business they stayed at the Statler Hotel. Visitors were greeted by a regal doorman under the hotel’s modern stainless steel marquee. Uniformed valets hustled under the lights of the sheltering marquee as they managed guest’s bags and/or parked cars. The Staler had interesting shops nearby. You can see how it once was from The Detroit People Mover. The DPM doesn’t stop here for obvious reasons.

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T I M E S S QUARE

The Detroit Times was established in 1842. It was a newspaper published and printed at a facility on Times Square from 1921 until it was sold to the Detroit News in November 1960. Times Square remained a twentyfour hour hub of activity after the Times folded. Since The Detroit News used the Times old presses to expanded its print capabilities. The production of multiple editions, along with a tide of reporters and delivery trucks continually ebbing and owing, gave Times Square an urban bustle. Busy retail shops and restaurants were available for a steady stream of workers and visitors around the clock. The Detroit News built a more modern plant in the suburbs. Now, the Times Square station is just another sentimental stop along the Detroit People Mover circuit.

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More street views of Times Square in Detroit

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C O B O HALL

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Originally built and designed in 1960 Detroit’s Cobo Hall Convention Center is one of the nation’s more mature trade show venues. It is continually scheduled for cosmetic renovations with no real plans for expansion or modernization. Cobo Hall is a major stop on the Detroit People Mover. The little trolley was integrated into the existing building’s design and whisks through a ceiling in one corner of the convention hall. People can sometimes be seen, from The Detroit People Mover, on their way to and from events at Cobo or Joe Louis Arena. Suburban visitors are herded through a corrugated aluminum people pipe, sporting unconventional round windows, to far-off expensive parking lots. The people conduit offers no futuristic moving sidewalks. It is simply a corrugated shelter offering pedestrians protection from the weather and muggers. The pipe’s portholes shield walkers from the desolate view outside.

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For additional information about The Detroit People Mover and to plan your trip visit the website: www.thepeoplemover.com

Map courtesy Detroit Transportation Corporation, City of Detroit.

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Coleman's Trolley by Dominic R Sondy  

Images of downtown Detroit as seen from the "People Mover"

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