Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Crusin' The Original Woodward Avenue

Woodward Avenue, which just celebrated its 200th birthday, has been getting a lot of attention over the past decade or so. With the corporate co-opting of the Woodward Dream Cruise, summer cruising has become almost unbearable. But how did this traditional rite of summer become the monster money grabbing enterprise that it is today? Arcadia Publishing's Crusin' The Original Woodward Avenue delves into the history of Woodward Avenue and the auto industry that developed along side of it.
This book is another installment in the Images of America Series so the emphasis is on the images rather than giving a detailed history. It is still an interesting read. The early chapters are devoted to the development of this National historic By-way. It reaches back to the original Woodward Plan and moves forward to parallel to rise of the automotive industry along Detroit's main street. The core of Crusin' recounts the cruising experience in Detroit further establishing the link between the Big Three and Woodward Avenue. It includes a range of cruising anecdotes. One teenager had her odometer disconnected to avoid her father's detection of her cruising tendencies, while others received under the table parts and support from engineers. One of the highlights of the book are the pages devoted to cruising destinations. It gives a taste of the drive-in restaurants of yesterday including historic photos and menus from these long gone establishments.

As the auto industry declined in the 70's with the energy crisis so did cruising. Attitude towards cruisers had also changed. Many establishment no longer allowed cruisers to gather in their parking lots without purchasing food. Some forbade anyone eating outside at all. Fortunately, this was not the end of Crusin ' Woodward. The Woodward Dream Cruise was originally launched in 1995 as a fund raiser for a youth soccer field. 250,000 people attended that day. It now attracts over 1.5 million people annually from around the world. Unfortunately, cruising Woodard in July and August has become a corporate affair.
Crusin' The Original Woodward Avenue is the perfect way to celebrate the 200th birthday of Woodward Avenue. The book is packed with historic photos of Woodward Avenue, the Detroit auto industry, and the cars that made it all possible. If you have an interest in the history of crusing in Detroit, you'll definitely want to check this book out.

Photos reprinted with permission from Crusin' The Original Woodward Avenue, by Anthony Ambrogio, Sharon Luckerman. Available from the publisher online at or by calling (888) 313-2665.

No comments: