• Jun 15th 2009 at 8:00PM
  • 52

Click above to watch the video after the jump

We often think of the 1950's as being the heyday for Detroit's fortunes, but even in the early-to-mid Sixties, it remained something of a modern marvel, thanks largely to its world-leading auto industry. This archival video was apparently commissioned as part of a failed bid for the 1968 Summer Olympics (which went to Mexico City instead). Reportedly filmed in 1965, Detroit – City on the Move shows the area in full bloom – a startling contrast to the shell of an empire that remains just 44 years later.

With the harmonies of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as a backdrop, Mayor Jerome Cavanagh takes us through footage of downtown streets bustling with some of the city's two million residents, shots of a startlingly clean and new Cobo Hall (including scenes of the Detroit Auto Show itself), the crisp campuses of the (then) Big Three, and of the city's once-mighty cultural draws. It even has footage of the late John F. Kennedy talking up its virtues as part of the Olympic bid.

Interestingly (and perhaps tellingly), this sanitized look at Detroit all but glosses over mounting troubles with blustery talks of 'rebirth,' it utterly omits mention of the hitmakers at Motown Records, and in retrospect, it fails to adequately address growing racial tensions in the city (Detroit's infamous riots would lay siege just two years later in 1967).

Admittedly, such promotional films show a city in its best light by design, but even still, there's no getting around the fact that the World's Automotive Capitol ain't what it used to be. This video, part of the Prelinger Archives, gives us a glimpse into what Detroit used to be, and perhaps more than anything, what it sought to be. It's an amazing yet sobering look into mid-Sixties America, and it's worth a look. Take a trip back in time by clicking on the jump.

[Source: Archive.org]


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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      "The inner city is becoming an exciting place to live"...

      I guess the constant ringing of gunfire in the air makes it so "exciting".

      • 6 Years Ago
      Canadian singer Sam Robers used various exterpts from this video as well as various footage from other sources, for his song "Detroit' 67" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCi17SEPgpc

      And as for the fate of Silicon Valley, it'll depends of California's future fate http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzhbBbZJVN4
      • 6 Years Ago
      Thanks for posting this. Sad to see Detroit become almost a third world city today.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I love old films like this, all the futurist stuff of the 60's is very interesting.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "it utterly omits mention of the hitmakers at Motown Records, and in retrospect, it fails to adequately address growing racial tensions in the city (Detroit's infamous riots would lay siege just two years later in 1967).

        Stupid white people.
      • 6 Years Ago
      That video made Detroit look like a great place to move to and raise your kids. lol. At once time, Detroit, like many US cities, was a nice place, full of promise and culture. The mid-60s were the beginning of the end of innocence.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Ever thought about the fact that Detroit never really designed good cars. They seemed good because they did not really faced much outside competition during that era?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Please people, stop feeding the trolls. They are becoming increasingly ignorant due to overfeeding.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ever thought about the fact that people still love their old Detroit metal and covet these great old machines like the works of art they are? You never see any old Crapanese cars garnering tens of thousands and more at auto auctions. Typical revisionist Detroit hating bullsh!t.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Lovely how they spend 5 minutes talking about "planning".

      Wanna bet it was the cost and restrictions of "planning" that caused everyone to escape to the suburbs?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Best quotes:
      "Detroit's progress in good ethnic relations..."
      "The inner-city is becoming an exciting place to live."

      • 6 Years Ago
      "including scenes of the NAIAS itself" - I seriously doubt it was called the NAIAS back then.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I had little doubt. I was being a bit sarcastic. ;-)
        • 6 Years Ago
        Oh, I know. Just doing some research for the other readers :)
      • 6 Years Ago
      As a Detroiter I laugh because its the only way to cover up the sadness of what happened to the city.

      But the film also reminds me of the beginning of the film "The Full Monty" where they show beautiful bustling Sheffield, England, the steel center of the universe....only to cut to a screeching end of promo film and the sad sack unemployed sitting around in a dead city.
        • 6 Years Ago
        That is EXACTLY what I thought of.

        I think they may have also used "a city on the move" phrase...

        And then cut to men on the dole stealing steel beams for scrap.

        "Not so'bad?, not so'bad? Real chuffin' S.O.S, there, mate!"
      • 6 Years Ago
      If you haven't seen the Sam Roberts video for Detroit '67, I highly recommend you check it out. It's amazing, and it uses Cavanagh's intro. You can see it here: http://autosnob.blogspot.com/2008/12/detroit-67.html
      • 6 Years Ago
      At some point I was expecting to hear: "You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead - your next stop, the Twilight Zone! "

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