Museum logo

Archive Record

  • Send Feedback
Catalog Number 1966.154.001b
Object Name Film, Motion Picture
Title Detroit's 250th Birthday Celebration, Entire Year of 1951
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 features shots of women's hairstyles, a re-enactment of the signing of the Declaration of Independence at Greenfield Village, the rehearsals for the "City of Freedom" musical at University of Detroit Stadium, an event on the Theme Center Stage in Grand Circus Park, the Detroit News Soapbox Derby, the Central States Amateur Rowing Association Regatta on the Detroit River, the Senior National AAU Outdoor Synchronized Championships at Patton Pool, the 1951 All Star Game at Briggs Stadium, and an event at the Jerome H. Remick Music Shell featuring dancers in international costumes.

The film begins with a woman walking into frame and unfurling "250th Birthday Festival" banner. This is followed by titles which read, "By Leslie B. Eby, and "Member Motion Picture Division, Photographic Society of America, an International Organization of Amateur Movie Makers." A brief shot of a man sitting beside a flower bed outside of the Veterans Memorial Building, with one of the plaza's pillars standing in the background.

The first of several text crawls follow; this one reads:

Highlights from the year-long celebration which began with official ceremonies in the City Hall on January 1, 1951, and which reached its climax on July 28 with the visit of President Truman and the most colorful parade in Detroit's History.

This is followed by a lengthy series of shots emphasizing the hairstyles of women dressed in gowns and dresses. Each subject poses in chair in the corner of a room.

A second text crawl follows:

Detroit's Festival sponsors a re-enactment of the signing of the Declaration of Independence at the replica of Independence Hall at Greenfield Village on July 4, 1951, linking Detroit's Festival to the national observance of the 175th anniversary of independence. Speakers were Selden B. Daume, president of Detroit's 250th Birthday Festival, and the late Senator Kenneth S. Wherry of Nebraska.

There ceremony occurs outside of the Edison Institute Museum, and features speakers, a group of flag-bears, and re-enactors portraying the signers. Selden B. Daume, the chairman of the 250th anniversary events, and later Nebraska senator Kenneth S. Wherry also speak. This portion also includes several shots of the building's tower, of the crowd, and of people posing with the prop Declaration. The event is followed by several shots taken inside of Greenfield Village, including a horse carriage, the paddlewheel boat SUWANEE, a family walking on green in front of the Martha-Mary Chapel, and a group posing in Model T.

The next portion of the tape begins with a shot of a Walker and Company billboard advertising the "City of Freedom" outdoor stage show. The billboard reads, "Gigantic Musical Under the Stars," "Cast of 1200 Singers, Dancers, Actors," and "Will Be Presented Here July 13th-23rd 8:3- P.M." Footage of rehearsal on the elaborate stage on University of Detroit's football field follows. The camera captures dancers and actors--some in costume, some not--acrobats, crew members, priests (or men in priest costumes), the piano player, and singers, The latter portion of the footage is either a night time dress rehearsal or one of the actual performance. The show includes trumpeters, dancers, a rollerskater, horses, bicyclists on normal and safety bicycles, early and contemporary cars, beauty pageant winners, baseball players, flags of multiple nations, and a scene with a large illuminated cross and a Star of David. Several of the women in the beauty pageant wear sashes identifying them as Miss East Jordan, Miss Traverse City, Miss Frankfort, and Miss Petoskey.

The reel's third text crawl introduces the next segment:

Outstanding symbol of Detroit's 250th Birthday Festival was the Theme Center Stage erected over the Edison Fountain in Grand Circus Park, dedicated on July 11. From this stage 28 nightly entertainments were presented and several Sunday afternoon programs sponsored by the Religious Participation Committee. The Empress of the Festival and her court were crowded here on opening night, July 11.

Several night shots follow of the stage-topped with a birthday cake-shaped pavilion. On it, are dancers, a procession of people in formal wear, and a physical comedy routine by three identically clad men of drastically different heights.

Afterward is footage from the Detroit News Soapbox Derby. A sign above the starting gate features the 250th Birthday Festival's symbol, and the text, "co-sponsored by Detroit Chevrolet Dealers." The camera rolls as one boy crashes his car into the fence along the side of the track.

The next segment opens with a long shot of a flyer promoting the Central States Amateur Rowing Association Regatta. The flyer reads, "Detroit River Course, Sat. July 14, Sun. July 15, 1951, under the [?] sponsorship of Detroit Boat Club and Aquatic Events Committee of Detroit's 250th Birthday Festival
The Championship Regatta honors Detroit on the occasion of the 250th Birthday Festival." This footage was shot from the Detroit Riverfront opposite Belle Isle. In the initial shots, a man wearing a jacket decorated with a crest talks to the camera. Shots follow of rowers on the river in kayaks, and at the dock. One of the rowers gets dunked off the dock by him teammates. The camera also captures a capsized solo rower being saved by a boat
rowers on the river and at the dock. one of the rowers get dunked. The rowing segment ends with a shot of an excursion boat passing with the Detroit Boat Club in the background. This transitions to shots of swimmers engaged in a relay race in the Detroit Boat Club's swimming pool.

The following segment is introduced by shots of two women in swimsuits holding a handwritten sign which reads, "Beautiful women from [blue and yellow compass rose symbol] are coming to The Senior National AAU Outdoor Synchronized Championships. Patton Pool, July 21-22." This portion includes women in swim costumes around Patton Park's Patton Pool, on the patio outside of the pool, and engaged in solo and group routines in the pool.

The segment shot at the 1951 All Star Game at Briggs Stadium opens with a shot of the game's program being held by an attendee. The shots of the game include a home run, and a double play. There are also shots of the crowd in the stadium, and outside in a parking lot. The All Star game segment concludes with a shot of the exterior of the stadium, decorated with 250th Birthday Festival banners.

The final portion of the footage features a series of dancers in various folk costumes performing at the Jerome H. Remick Music Shell. Among the regions represented as Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, and Scotland. There are also shots of the orchestra.
Date 1951
Collection Detroit Anniversaries
Search Terms 250th Anniversary
Women's Fashion
Henry Ford Museum
Greenfield Village
City of Freedom
Musicals
University of Detroit
University of Detroit Stadium
Theme Center Stage
Edison Fountain
Grand Circus Park
Detroit News Soapbox Derby
Soapbox Derbies
Central States Amateur Rowing Association Regatta
Rowing
Kayaking
Detroit River
Detroit Boat Club
Swimming Pools
Patton Park
Patton Pool
Synchronized Swimming
Tiger Stadium
1951 All Star Game
Jerome H. Remick Music Shell
Belle Isle
Video