CAR PARADE on Woodward Avenue

Posted By admin on August 13, 2009

By Margery Krevsky

In Detroit the mighty road which defines the city is Woodward Avenue. It is the line of demarcation, separating the east side and the west side of the city. It is the pavement stage for many traditional Thanksgiving Day parades, and is the link to the northern suburbs. It is the curbstone for such public places as the Fox Theatre, Orchestra Hall, main branch of the Detroit Public Library and the DIA. It is part of the road culture of Detroit. The Woodward Dream Cruise is part of the mystic lore of this great road.

Woodward Avenue has also been the location for significant historical car events. In 1946 six blocks were painted gold, recalling an ancient Roman soldiers’ victory march tradition. The occasion was the “Golden Jubilee of the Automobile”, a two week celebration marking the shift of factories from manufacturing war machinery back to passenger car production. The climax of this fete was a first class parade featuring floats from the automotive manufacturers. The parade attracted hundreds of people lining the curbs along Woodward Avenue celebrating a war victory and the return of Detroit’s moniker, “The Motor City”.

In the parade, “More and Better Things for More People” embellished a chariot GM created. Siren models were robed in goddess-inspired gowns and tiaras with Miss GM holding court. Flags embossed with the name of each GM brand added to the conquering hero subliminal message. Photographs show the float passing over trolley tracks which would still be used for a decade. The last Detroit streetcar rolled to a close in April 1956.

1946 GM float which was part of the 1946 “Golden Jubilee of the Automobile” celebration on Woodward Avenue.

“More and Better Things for More People” is the message for the 1946 GM float which was part of the 1946 “Golden Jubilee of the Automobile” celebration on Woodward Avenue. Photo courtesy of the National Automotive history Collection at Detroit Public Library

In 1960 the Detroit Auto Dealers Association created a “Wheels of Freedom” float to celebrate the newly built Cobo Hall and publicize the Detroit Auto Show. The float featured names of all the Detroit based manufacturers topped by a likeness of the hall on which was perched sirens like toy dolls on a birthday cake. Charles Snotow, organizer of the New York Auto Show during the 1960’s referred to the abundance of models gracing the cars as the “Paradise of Pulchritude”. The float paraded on Woodward Avenue and other major boulevards, streets and roads of Detroit. The 1960 Detroit Auto Show was the one time President Eisenhower visited Detroit. Today, Cobo Hall is the location of the North American International Auto Show held each January and automakers from around the world gather to attend and present press conferences touting the newest vehicles and automotive information.

“Wheels of Freedom” a float created by the Detroit auto Dealers Association to promote its’ annual show at the newly built Cobo Hall in 1960. Photo Courtesy of the National; Automotive History Collection at Detroit Public Library

“Wheels of Freedom” a float created by the Detroit auto Dealers Association to promote its’ annual show at the newly built Cobo Hall in 1960. Photo Courtesy of the National; Automotive History Collection at Detroit Public Library

Margery Krevsky is author of “Sirens of Chrome”, www.sirensofchrome.com, Momentum Publishing

Maureen McDonald contributed research for this article.

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