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Catalog Number 1966.154.001a
Object Name Film, Motion Picture
Title Detroit 250th Anniversary Reel 1
Scope & Content Silent, color 16mm film reel featuring footage of several events held as part of Detroit's 250th Birthday Festival, shot by Leslie B. Eby. The film includes footage of events on Belle Isle, the dedication ceremonies for the Detroit Historical Museum on July 24, 1951, a parade of boats off of the riverfront, the National Amateur Athletic Union Swimming and Diving event at Brennan Pools in River Rouge Park, an event in Campus Martius in front of City Hall, the parade along Woodward Avenue, and a series of circus performers for Police Field Day at University of Detroit Stadium.

The film opens with shots of a man and woman looking at the "Detroit's 250 Birthday Festival Official Souvenir Program." outdoors, presumably shot at the July 24th event at Belle Isle celebrating Cadillac's landing--the event which follows. Here, on the lawn beside the Nancy Brown Peace Carillon, a Detroit Police Department color guard, a Scottish band, and a group in tan military uniforms are film performing and drilling. Men in suits--including French ambassador Henri Bonnet, Canadian Ambassador Hume Wrong, inspects the groups, while a small crowd watches.

Afterward the camera captures an event at the Jerome H. Remick Music Shell. A group of people--including Mayor Albert Cobo, Bonnet--are seated on stage. The camera rolls as the event's chairman Selden B. Daume presents commemorative medallions to the dignitaries. The camera also pans across the audience as well. This segment ends with shots of governor G. Mennen Williams and United Nations trustee Ralph J. Bunche speaking at the podium.

The next portion of the film takes place at the dedication of the Detroit Historical Museum on the plaza outside of the museum's Woodward Avenue entrance. A band is shown performing, the French, British, and American flags are raised over the plaza, and several speakers are briefly shown addressing the crowd. The bust of Cadillac presented by Bonnet (1951.299.001) is also visible during this scene.

The next shots on the reel are of a parade of a variety of different boats on the Detroit River, presumably the Marine Parade also on July 24th. Cabin cruisers, yachts, speedboats and the Chicago, Duluth and Georgian Bay Transit Company's cruise ship NORTH AMERICAN all pass by the camera's lens. This segment ends with shots of the Veterans Memorial Building and a view of a busy riverfront parking lot.

The portion of the film documenting the National Amateur Athletic Union Swimming and Diving championships at Brennan Pools begins with a shot of the event's sign. The event took place between July 25th to the 29th. Footage of men's and women's diving and swimming events follows.

A typewritten title card over a floral background announces the next segment in the film, "The Festival parade on July 28 featured more than 150 historical and community interest floats and marching units, with over 10,000 participants." Shots follow of City Hall, decorated with large banners, and the event's crest. Speakers and camera crews are visible on the stage and stands on the building's lawn. The camera also pans across the crowd of spectators gathered in Campus Martis.

The film then cuts away to shots of camera operator sitting on top of a moving vehicle, with a series of zooms on his camera, and a close-up of his Detroit's 250th Birthday Parade Press pass armband.

The footage of the parade then begins with shots of police on motorcycles, a police color guard, mounted police, and a police marching band. Police are shown marching down Woodward Avenue from north of Willis Street with the Maccabees Building and Greystone Ballroom and Gardens visible in the background. The camera also captures the crowd gathered along the sidewalk beneath the marquee of the Mayfair Motion Picture Theater, and, in another shot, with a Cunningham's drug stone in the background. Spectators are also shown watching from the windows of the Fox Theatre.

The film then features a moving shot of a truck carrying a camera crew on Woodward Avenue between Adams Street and Elizabeth Street, likely shot from a similar trick on the other side of the street. In the background, spectators on the roof (and even on a billboard) atop the buildings on the east side of the Woodward are shown. Signs for Applegate Optical and Sherwin Williams, as visible in this shot, as is part of the Elwood Bar on the far left.

From its vantage point, the camera overlooks a crowd of spectators, captures a shot of kids perched atop the Hazen S. Pingree statue in Grand Circus Park, and gets a glimpse inside of the WXYZ-TV broadcasting tent along the route.

From another shot of the approaching group of police marchers taken between State Street and Grand River Avenue, the camera then pans up to the giant flag hung on the side of Hudson's. Banners decorated with stars, fleurs-de-lis, and heraldic lions line the sidewalk below...

For the first shot of one of the history-theme parade floats, the camera stationary on west side of Campus Martius, above the lawn of City Hall with the Bagley Fountain and the signs for Sam's Cut-Rate in Opera House in the background. The first float, sponsored by General Motors, represents the United States taking possession of the city on July 11, 1796. Colonial soldiers, cannons, and the Liberty Bell are on the float, while more soldiers march behind the float.

The following float, from the Detroit Edison Company, represents the Fire of 1805. The base of the float is painted to show burning buildings, and the rear of the float is decorated to resemble billowing flames. People in period costume ride and walk beside the float. A group of men stand around a document near the front of the float, and a man portraying Father Gabriel Richard, clad dark clothes with his arms outstretched, is on a platform near the rear of the float in front of a large version of the city seal.

The Saks Fifth Avenue float is next. It is decorated with emblems and flags representing France, the United States, and Great Britain, and carrying people dressed in early 19th century formal attire in a court scene.

It is followed by the Kelsey-Mayes Wheel Company float which is in the form of the Great Lakes' first steamship, the WALK-IN-THE-WATER.

Next is the Booker T. Washington Trade Association's float, which commemorates the Underground Railroad. People in period costume pose along the multi-tiered float, and at the rear is a model of the "John Brown House" (the home of William Webb where John Brown, Frederick Douglass, George deBaptiste and others met in on March 12, 1859) at 185 East Congress Street.

Afterward is the Lincoln-Mercury float, upon which a man portraying Abraham Lincoln stands at the rear above a banner with his quote, "Thank God for Michigan." The float also carries a group of men in Union army costume, and a miniature encampment.

A second Ford Motor Company float follows. This one represents Fort Wayne. Men in Civil War uniforms, and women in period dresses stand amid representations of the fort's walls and buildings.

It is followed by a float representing immigration. "Give me Your Tired - Your Poor" is written along the side of the float below people in various European folk costumes who sit amongst flowers. A woman dressed as Liberty stands among a semi-circle of flags at the rear.

The participants in the parade captured by the camera are Pfeiffer's elephants. The Michigan Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument stands in the background. They are followed by a group of cyclists in turn-of-the-century costume.

The next float is sponsored by the Michigan Consolidated Gas Company. Aboard this float, men and women in turn-of-the-century costume pose around a small gazebo filled with a brass band clad in red uniforms.

The Michigan Bell Telephone Company float is next. This float recreates the pharmacy of Frederick Stearns where a telephone was installed just over a year after Alexander Graham Bell patented the invention. The float features a Jefferson Avenue street sign, the facade of the pharmacy, a sign that reads, "Come in and talk over the speaking telephone," and people in late 19th century costume gathered around the device in the cut-away interior. The Family Theatre is visible in the background

People in historical costume ride in a red Model T touring car ahead of the next float--that of the Ford Motor Company. This float depicts Henry Ford outside of his Bagley Avenue workshop with his Quadricycle, a man, woman, a bicycle, a wagon wheel, and a statue of a horse. The walls of the workshop are cut away to reveal the tools inside. A banner around the base of the rear of the float reads, "From humble beginnings such as this came the first motor cars."

They are followed by the Oldsmobile float; a sign on the side of the float reads "Beginning of Mass Production." Aboard the float, workers in period costume assemble Curved Dash Oldsmobiles, while a group of people pose around a completed one near the rear.

The next float features a horse-drawn carriage covered with flowers. The float celebrates Detroit's 1901 Bicentennial.

A marching band in blue uniforms is the subject of the next shot. They are followed by a horse-drawn carriage with a large number of people seated on its roof.

The next float represents the 1909 Michigan State Fair. A strong man, woman in a green skirt, a family, an early automobile, trophies, and signs for several attractions are aboard this float.

Afterward is Chevrolet's float representing the World War I-era Liberty Loan Drive. The dates 1917 and 1918 are posted on the high walls of the float. Within several tiers of members of a band clad in Brodie helmets are being conducted by a man in an officer uniform who stands at a podium in at the float's front.

Another Chevrolet World War I float comes next. This one features American, French, and British flags at the front flying above a man in a Marines uniform, a man in an Army uniform, and a woman in a nurse uniform. The middle of the float is decorated with images and models of airplanes, artillery, and military trucks, as well as factory scenes. A man dressed as Uncle Sam stands near the rear of the float, in front of American, British, and French symbols and a large figure of a man holding a gear labeled "Detroit."

The next float represents "The Roaring Twenties." This one consists of a platform with dancers, a band, a stock ticker, skyscrapers, and balloons, pulled behind a model of Gar Wood's speedboat, the MISS AMERICA X.

In the next shot three aqua 1951 Packard 250 convertibles carry dignitaries along the parade route. They are followed by representatives of the Canada and its military--including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on horseback, the Royal Canadian Army, and a Canadian military band. The members of this band wear several uniforms. A group of drummers wear red military dress uniforms with Wolsley helmets. They are followed by two groups in Scottish highland dress with kilts, as well as a group of soldiers in kilts marching with rifles, and boys in campaign hats and kilts. Afterward a group of men, then women both in tan uniforms pass. Next is a color guard carrying four flags--the American flag, one with a red arrow on a field, one with a yellow symbol and text on a blue field, and the 250th birthday flag. They lead a majorette and a marching band.

The next participants in the parade captured on film are three women in evening gowns holding bouquets while waving from the rear of a peach 1951 Cadillac convertible. They are followed by an M4 Sherman tank, and a group of African American majorettes clad in yellow. Behind them is another color guard in green and yellow uniforms, carrying an American Flag, the event's flag, a blue and yellow American Legion flag, and a white flag with a small symbol at its center. Another majorette and marching band follow behind.

In the next shot two people in blue cavalier costume on horseback ride ahead of a float from the Briggs Manufacturing Company. This float features group of people in 18th century French court costume stand on a blue float decorated with fleurs-de-lis and a blue and white color scheme.

Afterward is a float sponsored by the Cadillac Motor Car Division. This one features people in Native American costume meeting a man portraying Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac and a group in a canoe dressed as French explorers. A map on the side of the float shows Cadillac's route from Quebec to Detroit.

It is followed by a float depicting an outdoor scene of French settlers engaged in a religious service surrounded by Native Americans.

The following shot is of the S.S. Kresge Company's float. On this float, people in 18th century French military costume and Native American costumes stand inside a miniature representation of Fort Pontchartrain. Behind the fort is a ship carrying a woman in a purple dress--presumably portraying Marie-Therese Guyon Cadillac--and people in fur trader costume. A man in Native American costume in a canoe is at the rear of the float, behind the ship.

Buick's float appears next. Men in British military costume stand inside a miniature representation of a fort on this float. The scene includes men in officer garb around a table.

Then, in the Pontiac Motor Division float, men in Native American costume meet with a man in British military dress.

The City of Detroit's float featuring a model of the new Civic Center beneath a large version of the city's seal is next. Members of a color guard stand at the float's corners.

During another break between floats another convertible is shown, as is a close-up of man taking to a police officer and walking around in the street. Then another group of majorettes and another band, this one in green and yellow uniforms, pass.

Next is another float, this one sponsored by the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and featuring a woman in a white gown standing between a stack of giant plates and a giant birthday cake. A banner along the side of the float reads, "Congratulations Detroit 250th Birthday."

It is followed by another float which features a group of women in green and white gowns and large hats waving from atop pair of segmented platforms decorated with the event's emblem, and other French, British, and American symbols. A large eagle holds the event's shield-shaped emblem at the rear of the float.

A group of people in dark uniforms--presumably members of the Boy Scouts--carrying the flags of countries around the world are in the next shots, as part of the "Mile of Flags." They are followed by another group in yellow and black uniforms.

After a brief shot of two women in the crowd looking toward the camera, a man in a purple outfit rides by on horseback. He is followed by the All American Legion Girls of Metro Detroit, riding by in a black convertible and a copper-colored convertible.

The next float consists of a truck in the shape of a locomotive pulling a box car. "Detroit Voiture 102, Join American Legion" is among the text painted on the side of the locomotive. "La Madelon" is painted on the side of the box car. A group of people, mostly in white uniforms with red handkerchiefs around their necks ride the float. A horse-drawn carriage follows closely behind the float.

Several shots of men on horseback dressed as cowboys come after another cut. A balloon vendor is also shown approaching the camera.

The next few shots show men in red and black uniforms pulling antique firefighters' equipment. First comes a hose reel. A sign on the side of the reel's wheel reads, "Hose Reel 1825-1860." It is followed by a hand-operated fire engine, with the dates on its sign obscured. A horse-drawn chemical wagon then a chemical pumper--both dated "1860-1923"--follow. The final fire apparatus shown is a contemporary Detroit Fire Department fire engine.

A large floral float carrying several women in gowns and a map identifying Highland Park as "The Heart of Detroit" is next. "The side of the float reads, "Highland Park: The City Within A City."

Another marching band, this one clad in red and black kilts, passes next.

Following another cut, the City of Ypsilanti's float is next. It features both a miniature school house, as well as a classroom scene. The base of the float reads, "Education for Freedom."

Next is the City of Royal Oak's float featuring a violently rocking horse-drawn carriage atop a corduroy road. "Detroit to Royal Oak" is painted along the side of the carriage, and "Corduroy Road Grand Circus Park Through Royal Oak Opened 1845" is posted along the base of the float.

The next float--a floral train labeled as the Cherry Train--speeds past the camera.

Following another cut, a drill team in red and blue uniforms stops for a performance in front of the camera, as well as a WXYZ-TV crew on the opposite side of the street.

A Shriner marching band clad in yellow, gold, and red turbans, capes, billowy pants, and pointed shoes comes next. They are followed by another marching band in red and black uniforms. Then another Shriner group in blue and white uniforms and fezes. The group stops, lines up single-file shoulder-to-shoulder, then salutes the spectators. Another group of men in blue uniforms and cocked hats with white feathers follow. A quick shot afterward shows a couple in fancy 19th century costume following a group with yellow and blue uniforms. They are followed by another group of marchers, this one clad in billowy blue pants, white shirts, and blue scarfs.

Next is another float, this one sponsored by the Oddfellows. A rainbow containing the text, "A Link In Detroit's Past, Present, & Future," spans the dates 1837 and 1951 over a model of Detroit's skyline.

After a really brief shot of another uniformed marching group are several very dark shots of people in European folk costumes. The film remains dark for the next minute and a half. The next shot appears to be of the float from the Armenian Community Center. Men with spears and wearing helmets stand among models of Saint Hripsime Church and a mountain range.

They are followed by a school marching band in shiny yellow uniforms. After them comes a group in Chinese costume. Some of the members carry banners, while others perform a dragon dance. The film's brightness returns to normal with a shot of a group in European folk costume.

The next shot if of a float featuring a portion of a large gear at its center. The base of the float reads, "The Gear of Business and Industry."

Next comes a group in Greek folk and historical costumes. They are followed by a Hungarian group's float, covered with women in folk costumes, and with a large gear shape at the rear.

The banner on the next float reads, "First White Child Born in Detroit, Daughter of Capt. Alphonso Tonti." Float features a woman holding a baby and several other people in historical costume standing within a model of Fort Pontchartrain.

They are followed by a float representing the city's Lebanese community. The float is in the shape of an ancient Phoenician trireme with the flag of Lebanon as its sail.

The final footage from the parade is of the group representing the city's Polish population. A group of women in Polish folk costume push separate carts, each with a red and while sail bearing the name of an organization or a fact about Detroit's Polish community. They are followed by a float featuring a model of a Polish city surrounded by children in folk costume.

The final portion of the film was shot at University of Detroit Stadium during Police Field Day on August 4th or 5th and begins with a group of police officers marching on the track. They are followed by a series of circus performers and other events, including a tightrope act, a drill by a group of mounted police, a tug-of-war competition, a trope performing tricks on unicycles and a bicycles, a dog and pony show, trapeze artists, a pole act, another aerial act involving a tall ladder with a pendulum hung from it, and a marching band and drum majorettes. A sign from Emil Pallenberg's trained bear act is visible during the tightrope act. The final shots are of a lion tamer clown and a woman in a leopard outfit. The film then ends with a series of Amateur Cinema League titles.
Date 1951
People Cobo, Albert E.
Daume, Selden B.
Williams, G. Mennen
Bunche, Ralph J.
Extent of Description 00:36:41
Collection Detroit Anniversaries
Search Terms 250th Anniversary
Belle Isle
Jerome H. Remick Music Shell
Detroit Historical Museum
Detroit River
Cabin Cruisers
North American
Chicago, Duluth and Georgian Bay Transit Company
Brennan Pools
River Rouge Park
City Hall
Campus Martius
Parade Floats
Mayfair Motion Picture Theater
Woodward Avenue
Hudson's Flag
Detroit Police Department
Marching Bands
Boy Scouts of America
American Legion
Fire Apparatuses
Detroit Fire Department
University of Detroit Stadium
Police Field Day