Detroit Bookfest 2022 Festival Guide

Detroit Bookfest 2022 Festival Guide

Detroit Bookfest 2019 (photo by Ryan M. Place)

 

The Detroit Festival of Books, aka: Detroit Bookfest, is a FREE annual in-person event at Eastern Market in Detroit, Michigan.

Eastern Market

Shed 5

2934 Russell Street

Detroit, MI 48207

 

Sunday, July 17, 2022

10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

 

Facebook event page

https://www.facebook.com/events/682806536217456/

 

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/DetroitBookfest

 

We are also hosting Virtual Detroit Bookfest on our website from July 15-17, 2022

https://detroitbookfest.com/vendor-application-2022/

 

Eastern Market Detroit map

 

The phrase “Eastern Market” refers to both the large district/neighborhood and also the series of Sheds owned by the city of Detroit and run by the Eastern Market Partnership non-profit organization.

Opened in 1891, Eastern Market is the largest historic public market in the United States.

Featuring 43 acres of space, Eastern Market is comprised of a series of indoor and outdoor sheds which function as thriving year-round consumer markets.

This year, Detroit Bookfest will be located inside Shed 5 where vendors will be selling all sorts of books (ie: used, rare, antiquarian, authors, children’s, new, unusual, ephemera, etc), comic books, vinyl LP records, creative arts, and more.

Detroit Festival of Books (photo by Debography)

 

DJ Seven Whales will be providing the vibes.

 

Debbie Maciolek will be documenting the experience with her keen and perceptive eye.

 

Two food trucks, Delray BBQ and Treat Dreams will be on the south side of Shed 5 on Alfred Street (east of Russell Street)

 

 

Char’latte Coffee Company: Two Metro Detroit sisters are bringing their Mobile Coffee Cart to Detroit Bookfest

 

The Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau’s D-Rover van will be outside Shed 5.

 

Pong Detroit, the ping-pong social club, will be wheeling some ping-pong tables over to Bookfest!

 

Deon Forrest (aka: Greektown Hotbox) Detroit’s own world-famous street performer will be live on Russell Street (at Alfred Street) outside Detroit Bookfest.

 

Detroit’s own Arts & Scraps is bringing the ScrapMobile to Bookfest! Kids will be able to build their own books here!

 

And more!

Health and safety is our #1 concern.

Whatever safety protocols are in place on Bookfest Day, we will be following them 100%.

We ultimately have no idea what to expect this year but we will do our absolute best to make it fun and safe.

JR Jones and Lonni Thomas, two of Eastern Market’s finest and also members of the Detroit Bookfest Committee (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

Our festival footprint has grown to include:

 

The Official Bookfest Afterparty down the street at Eastern Market Brewing Company (runs 10am-8pm)

https://detroitbookfest.com/bookfest-afterparty-embc/

 

Bookfest Bash inside Bea’s Detroit (runs 10am-4pm)

https://detroitbookfest.com/beas-detroit-bookfest-bash/

 

Please explore the Detroit Bookfest Festival Guide below.

We also encourage you to make a day of it and explore the entire Eastern Market district, which is packed with hundreds of fun shops, restaurants, and experiences.

 

Eastern Market’s Shed 5 Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

Here’s our totally professional graphic designer-approved not flawed in any way screenshot MAP of the Bookfest Festival Footprint 

 

Detroit Bookfest festival map

 

Eastern Market Brewing Company 

2515 Riopelle Street

 

Located three blocks southeast of Shed 5, Eastern Market Brewing Company (EMBC) is one of the most popular destinations in Eastern Market.

Currently, the street they’re on, Riopelle, is closed to vehicle traffic. It is pedestrian-only and they have tables in the street, food tent, live DJ, and of course beer, glorious beer.

Some of their most popular beers are:

Elephant Juice, Market Day IPA, Mae Blanc, Wonderboy, and White Coffee Stout

 

Bookfest Afterparty

https://detroitbookfest.com/bookfest-afterparty-embc/

 

Beer list

https://easternmarket.beer/beers/

 

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/easternmarketbrewing/?hl=en

 

Special thanks to Dayne Bartscht (owner) and his team

Eastern Market Brewing Company Detroit (photo courtesy of EMBC)

EMBC Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

EMBC Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

Bea’s Squeeze Detroit 

1533 Winder Street

 

Half a block around the corner from EMBC is Bea’s lovely combination eatery and co-working space. This beautiful addition to the market is the brainchild of Beatrice Wolnerman and they now have a walk-up window.

Bea’s was recently voted the # 1 special occasion venue in Metro Detroit.

Be sure to try Bea’s signature lemonade (bottled lemonade or lemonade slushies) and some tasty scones.

 

Bookfest Bash

https://detroitbookfest.com/beas-detroit-bookfest-bash/

 

Homepage

https://www.beasdetroit.com/

 

You can even buy this awesome duffel bag from Bea’s

https://beassqueeze.com/products/duffel-bag

 

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/beasdetroit/

 

Special thanks to Beatrice Wolnerman (owner) and Connar McLeod (events director)

Bea’s Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Bea’s Detroit warehouse (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Bea’s Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Bea’s duffel bag (photo courtesy of Bea’s)

Live boxing inside Bert’s Warehouse (2739 Russell St, Detroit)

directly across from the Eastern Market Sheds

Sunday, July 17, 2022

2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Buy tickets here:

https://www.detroitgoldengloves.org/

Live boxing inside Bert’s Warehouse during Detroit Bookfest

 

 

 

Pong Detroit

This afterhours ping-pong social club is located inside Bert’s Warehouse (2739 Russell Street)

 

The brainchild of former Honolulu-based radio DJ and pong enthusiast Mal Lang, their slogan is “unplug and play.”

Mal says, “Soccer is # 1 and table tennis is the # 2 participant sport in world. Table tennis is huge in China, India, Europe (especially Sweden & Germany).”

Bert’s Warehouse also features a comedy club, kitchen, and bar, so you can drink and pong all night long.

Lessons are available and they will be doing wheelchair table tennis soon.

Their other slogan is “Food, drinks, music and pong.”

Hours

Tuesday-Thursday

5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Cost

$10/hr from 5-7pm, then $15/hr 7pm-11pm

 

Homepage

http://pongdetroit.com/

 

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/pongdetroit/

 

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/pongdetroit/

 

Thanks to Mal Lang (owner)

 

Pong Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Pong Detroit

Pong Detroit inside Bert’s Warehouse (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Michigan shaped ping pong paddle (courtesy of Pong Detroit)

Bert’s Warehouse Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

 

Red Bull Arts Detroit 

1551 Winder Street

 

Directly next door to Bea’s is the 14,000-square foot two-story Red Bull Arts warehouse. Inside they have a library and recording studio.

The basement of the warehouse is the old Eckhardt & Becker Brewery and is basically a cool subterranean brick-walled cavern. The brewery was here 1891-1969.

New York City and Detroit are the only two Red Bull Arts exhibition spaces in North America. There’s also one in Sao Paolo, Brazil called The Station. Red Bull’s global HQ is in Austria and their North American HQ is in Santa Monica, California.

Red Bull, yes the energy drink company, pays 9 artists from all over the world a $12,000 stipend to live and work at the warehouse for 3 month intervals (ie: January-April, April-July, August-November). The stipend allows the artists to focus on making art full-time while in Detroit. Being an artist is not easy and the money and dedicated time for free-flowing creativity are a blessing to struggling artists.

 

Homepage

http://redbullarts.com/detroit/

 

RBA Detroit Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/redbullartsdetroit/

 

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/redbullarts/?hl=en

 

Special thanks to Matt Eaton (director)

Red Bull Arts Detroit (photocourtesy of Red Bull)

Red Bull Arts Detroit warehouse (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

 

The Dequindre Cut

Closest entrance located at 3017 Orleans Street.

 

The Cut,” as it’s called is a lovely greenway/urban recreational pathway for walking, biking, jogging.

It is 2-miles long and runs from the Detroit Riverfront to the northern tip of Eastern Market.

Near the Wilkins/Orleans entrance, you can find the Freight Yard Bar, this is an outdoor bar made out of shipping containers.

To get to the bar:

Enter at Orleans St & Wilkins St, walk down to the Cut, make a right, then it’s down on your left.

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/DequindreCutFreightYard

Dequindre Cut (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Dequindre Cut (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Dequindre Cut Map

Dequindre Cut (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Dequindre Cut (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Dequindre Cut Freight Yard bar (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Dequindre Cut (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra concert @ Dequindre Cut Freightyard Bar (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

 

 

Detroit City Distillery

2462 Riopelle Street

 

The Riopelle taproom of DCD is down the street from Eastern Market Brewing Company.

Here you will find a lively outdoor vibe, including music, cocktails and food from Midnight Temple, the Indian gastropub located above DCD. (hint: try the tandoori wings and gobi rollup).

 

Homepage

https://www.detroitcitydistillery.com/

 

Midnight Temple

https://www.midnighttemple.com/

 

Special thanks to JP Jerome (co-founder), Mike Forsyth (co-founder), Akash Sudhakara (Midnight Temple)

Detroit City Distillery (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Midnight Temple Indian food Detroit (photo courtesy of Yelp)

 

Trio of great shops

1337-1353 Division Street

 

This trio of great shops, Detroit Hustles Harder, Signal-Return, the 37th Shield Library, is located along Division Street, west of Russell Street.

 

37th Shield Library sells books and records and more.

https://www.facebook.com/The37thshieldlibrary/

 

Signal-Return is a letterpress studio.

http://www.signalreturnpress.org/

 

Detroit Hustles Harder is a globally recognized clothing store.

https://divisionstreetboutique.com/

 

Special thanks to Andrew Potvin (37th Shield), Toby Barlow and Lynne Avadenka (Signal-Return), and Brendan Blumentritt (Detroit Hustles Harder)

37th Shield Library, Signal Return letterpress, Detroit Hustles Harder (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

37th Shield Library (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

 

The Eastern (event venue)

3434 Russell Street

The Eastern is a lovely 5,000-square foot industrial space you can rent out for special events.

Built in 1888, this is the old Hook and Ladder # 5 fire station. The Eastern has capacity for 300 seated or 600+ strolling and a 3,000 square foot outdoor patio.

Note: The entrance is not directly on Russell St, rather the main entrance is located on the north side of the building next to Wasserman Art Gallery.

Homepage

http://www.theeasterndetroit.com/

Virtual Tour

http://www.theeasterndetroit.com/virtual-tour

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/theeastern

Special thank you to Scott Rutterbush (owner).

The Eastern event space Detroit (courtesy The Eastern)

The Eastern event space Detroit (courtesy The Eastern)

The Eastern event space Detroit (courtesy The Eastern)

The Eastern event space Detroit (courtesy The Eastern)

 

Elsewhere in the Eastern Market district….

 

Eastern Market sculpture at Orleans and Erskine (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Eastern Market graffiti on Orleans Street, north of Erskine (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Eastern Market graffiti on Orleans Street, north of Erskine (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Eastern Market graffiti on Orleans Street, north of Winder (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Eastern Market graffiti on Orleans Street, north of Winder (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Eastern Market graffiti on Orleans Street, north of Winder (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Eastern Market graffiti on Orleans Street, north of Alfred (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

J’adore Loft 

2501 Russell Street, ste. 400

This fun event space is 2,000 square feet and has capacity for 50 seated or 125 strolling.

Great for meetings, weddings, photo shoots, events of all sorts.

Homepage

https://www.jadore-detroit.com/the-loft-1

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/jadoredetroit

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/jadoredetroit/

Special thanks to Candice Simons (owner).

J’adore Loft in Eastern Market (photo courtesy of J’adore Loft Detroit)

J’adore Loft in Eastern Market (photo courtesy of J’adore Loft Detroit)

J’adore Loft in Eastern Market (photo courtesy of J’adore Loft Detroit)

J’adore Loft in Eastern Market (photo courtesy of J’adore Loft Detroit)

 

 

Dyno Indoor Climbing Gym

3500 Orleans Street

 

This place is really cool! Inside you will find 12-15 foot tall boulders and a 49 foot tall rope section.

You can get a day pass, punch pass, or membership.

Climbers must be over 4 years old and you have to be over 16 years old to belay.

 

Homepage

https://www.dynodetroit.com/

 

Special thanks to Dino Ruggeri (owner)

Dyno indoor climbing gym (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Dyno indoor climbing gym (photo courtesy of Dyno)

 

 

Dorais Park Velodrome

601 Mack Avenue

Located on the NW edge of the Eastern Market district, this is also another really cool place!

Inside the 64,000 square foot dome you will find an indoor wooden bicycle track.

Bicyclists beware, you can actually go up to 50mph on your bicycle inside here!

 

Homepage

https://lexusvelodrome.com/

 

Special thanks to Dale Hughes (owner)

Dorais Park Velodrome (photo courtesy of the Velodrome)

Dorais Park Velodrome (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

That’s not everything in Eastern Market.

Merely a small sampling of some of the fun and exciting things you can do.

Be sure to explore the entire district and enjoy your experience in Detroit!

Meet DJ Seven Whales: the Official DJ of Detroit Bookfest

Meet DJ Seven Whales: the Official DJ of Detroit Bookfest

DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

I’m just tryna add sauce to the world.”-DJ Seven Whales

Detroit Bookfest wouldn’t be Detroit Bookfest without the power of music. It helps transform and enhance the event into something visceral and multi-dimensional.

We especially like the funk, the whole funk and almost nothing but the funk. Our deep love o’ great gobs of funk music was initially inspired by attending Frank Raines monthly Funk Night parties in Detroit where one discovers you can levitate without actually levitating.

For years, DJ Zig-Zag (Jason Ratcliffe) graciously spun for us since the beginning of Bookfest but life has taken him beyond the Motor City. We thank Zig-Zag for his support and will miss his vibes at Bookfest. After his departure, the first great DJ whose named popped into my cabeza was Seven Whales.

DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

DJ Seven Whales, real name JR Jones, is a native Detroiter and an eminently creative individual. He is also Market Operations Analyst @ Eastern Market and has been a treasured member of the Detroit Bookfest Committee since our inception.

Born November 30, 1989 on Detroit’s Northwest side, JR graduated Mumford High School (off Wyoming and McNichols) and went on to graduate from Specs Howard School of Media Arts with a degree in graphic design.

But most of all, JR hails from a highly creative family.

 

The Creative Lineage of Seven Whales

DJ Seven Whales & DJ Sam Morykwas (photo by George Gregory Clothing)

I’m into all types of music, rock, rap, whatever. I just love music.

“Growing up, everybody in my family was listening to music all the time. My dad is a big jazz and funk fan. Two of his favorites are Grover Washington Jr. and Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson. My mom loves soul, especially Erykah Badu and Sade.”

My dad was born in Detroit and played piano when he was younger. My mom is from White Castle, Louisiana near Baton Rouge and was a painter. And me, being a kid growing up in the 90’s, I was influenced by their natural creativity and all the great music coming out at that time.”

 

 

Eastern Market: pull out a map and mark it

DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

JR started working at Eastern Market Partnership in February 2014.

“Initially, I was working security. We call it CSS, which stands for Customer Support Service. Then I was promoted to Market Operations Analyst.”

I love the Eastern Market community. Our neighborhood is a great mix of young to old, artists to nutritionists, it’s very diverse. I also just love the art community in Detroit in general.”

DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

“I work at the Market with the infamous Lonni Thomas. She’s great, we have a lot of fun together. My favorite Lonni Thomas story is one time we were closing up after a Sunday Holiday Market. We were carrying stuff down to the basement and I fell slowly down the stairs and Lonni just watched me. She did help me up afterward though. It was one of those funny slow-motion can’t stop from falling falls with her just staring at me.” (laughs)

I love Detroit Bookfest at Eastern Market. It brings out the diversity, everyone, buying amazing books and materials. It’s especially impressive during an age in history where everything is mad digital. It’s also far from what you think of when you think of a typical book event. Reminds me more like an all-inclusive community block party. It makes the concept of reading and collecting books fun, especially for younger people. It’s a one-of-a-kind event, honestly. I look forward to it every year. And now I’m excited to be DJ’ing it.”

“My favorite book is ‘The Tao of Wu’ (2009) by Wu Tang’s RZA. It’s a philosophy book about the many paths to enlightenment. RZA has a unique mind, the way he puts different concepts together is interesting.”

Tao of Wu-RZA

 

JR Jones becomes DJ Seven Whales

DJ Seven Whales (Photo by Doug @wndrlstmedia)

JR has been DJ’ing since March 2019.

When I spin, I like to create a vibe. I spin with emotion and energy.”

“I’ve had a lifelong love of music and always wanted to DJ. My uncle took me to Guitar Center one day and showed me a DJ controller and I was hooked.”

“I gotta give a shout out to my man Sam. Sam Morykwas is the senior marketing manager here at Eastern Market and he’s also a great DJ. He taught me a lot about the craft and even gave me some equipment to help get me started.”

DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

“Mainly, I’m a house party DJ, spinnin’ the dopeness, but I love DJ’ing all types of events.”

“Don’t have one particular style of music. I try to spin stuff the world would love to hear, whether they know it or not. I’m tryna hit y’all with things you don’t know. The idea is to put you onto good music.”

“My DJ name Seven Whales came from two sources. One is the book ‘The Legend of the Seven Whales of Ngai Tahu Matawhaiti’ (1988). It’s an African legend about a tohunga transforming seven whales into seven hills.”

The Legend of the Seven Whales of Ngai Tahu Matawhaiti

“Another influence was a song in which Sir Michael Rocks talks about saving the whales. We misheard it as seven whales. The song is called ‘What do you Do’.”

“My favorite DJ’s are Kaytranada, Joe K, Detroit’s own PBH (Problematic Black Hottie), and honestly my man Sam Morykwas. My goal is to learn, not copy, but learn from other DJ’s.”

 

The Fun Stuff

Island Jerk Ribs w/ Guava BBQ Sauce @ Coop Caribbean Fusion Detroit (photo by: Coop)

“Favorite eateries in Detroit? Man, how much time we got? Could be here a while, there’s so many. At this particular moment in time, my top three are:”

Coop Caribbean fusion inside Detroit Shipping Company (474 Peterboro St, Detroit) “this is my guilty pleasure place”

Bash Izakaya (5069 Trumbull, Detroit)

Fat Salmon Sushi (11411 Joseph Campau Ave, Hamtramck)

“When I’m not DJ’ing or exploring the rich culinary scene in Metro Detroit, I’m usually exploring different ways to be creative.”

Ink drawings, photography, watercolor painting, etc. I also like cruising the city on my bike. You can see me riding my Fuji Absolute around town.”

 

Upcoming Developments

Wednesday Night Vibes Detroit

“Sam and I spin Wednesday Night Vibes every week on Zoom from 8pm-11pm. You can find the link on IG @djsevenwhales.”

We also did a commercial for the Detroit Tigers and one for George Gregory Clothing and we have some more things in the works.”

“I’m a sneakerhead, a cool nerdy kid from Detroit. You’ll see me at events. I’m just tryna add sauce to the world.”

 

Contact

DJ Seven Whales is available for gigs. Book him for your next event!

[email protected]

 

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/djsevenwhales/

Soundcloud

https://soundcloud.com/user-627124274

Linkedin

https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-jones-7799a3bb

 

DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

DJ Seven Whales Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Spooky true story: Detroit’s Eastern Market Sheds are built on top of the old Russell Street Cemetery

Spooky true story: Detroit’s Eastern Market Sheds are built on top of the old Russell Street Cemetery

Graveyard stock photo (courtesy of Unsplash)

*PLEASE NOTE: This paper is not intended to be a scholarly dissertation. It is a true story of Detroit history intended for the general public. This article will be periodically updated as new information crops up. As stated at the end of the article, please fact-check me and feel free to email me at place313 at gmail dot com and let me know if anything needs to be updated for greater accuracy. Thank you! *

 

I first heard this story a few years ago from my friend, Lonni Thomas. Since then, I’ve scoured libraries, old newspapers and online for more information.

Eastern Market, the largest historic public market in the USA, consists of a series of Sheds, essentially a row of large indoor consumer buildings running North to South along the eastside of Russell Street in Detroit, Michigan. The Sheds host vibrant weekly markets and lively annual events like the Detroit Festival of Books, Detroit Fall Beer Festival, Flower Day, etc.

What many people don’t know:

These Sheds are built on top of the old Russell Street Cemetery (1834-1882) and where a portion of the old prison, Detroit House of Corrections, aka: DeHoCo, used to be located (1861-1931).

This is a largely hidden and unknown spooky true tale of Detroit history.

Let’s take a look back into the mysterious pre-Eastern Market history of Old Detroit.

 

Essential Background Details on the creation and dismantling of the Russell Street Cemetery

 

Graveyard stock photo (courtesy of Unsplash)

In the 1800’s, Detroit was not the sprawling cosmopolitan city it is today. It had a more rough-and-tumble frontier town feel to it.

According to Gen. Palmer, there was a town water pump at the foot of Randolph Street and tramps and thieves used to be whipped at the public whipping post on Woodward Avenue.

By 1834, the city had around 5,000 residents when the Russell Street Cemetery was established. Michigan was a vast territory at that time and didn’t even become a state until 1837.

Russell Street Cemetery was open 1834-1882 in what’s now known as the Eastern Market neighborhood of Detroit. It was located along Russell Street roughly from modern day Gratiot to Eliot. It was also known as the Second City Cemetery.

The First City Cemetery, often called Clinton Park Cemetery, was created May 29, 1827, on land the city had purchased from Col. Antoine Beaubien’s ribbon farm. It was a long, narrow, 30-foot wide plot of land stretching from Gratiot Ave and Clinton St down to Jefferson Ave. Supposedly, Gen. Friend Palmer’s father was the first person buried here. The cemetery closed to further interments in 1854 and was officially vacated by November 12, 1869. So, yes, it did exist concurrently for a few decades with Russell.

On May 31, 1834, the city of Detroit purchased 55 acres of farmland from the probate estate of Charles Guoin for the then-handsome sum of $2,010. The Guoin family had farmed this land for almost 100 years, since 1742. Charles Frances Guoin was born February 2, 1755 and died sometime between 1830-32. At some point, Charles had relations with Little Snipe, a local Pottawatomie woman, and they had a daughter named White Feather (Marie LaVoy).

A few months after the purchase, in August 1834, 38 acres became the Russell Street Cemetery. This decision was made by the Detroit Common Council. This area supposedly (although not conclusively) was bound by modern-day Russell Street, Eliot Street, the Freeway, Gratiot Ave, and an undefined eastern boundary. At its peak, supposedly, some 10,000-15,000 graves are estimated to have been here but nobody knows for sure because various records have either been lost or were never kept in the first place.

By August 1834, the burials at Russell Street Cemetery were numerous because Detroit was in the throes of a second cholera epidemic, which killed an eighth of the city’s population. Cholera epidemics hit Detroit hard in 1832 and 1834 and “congested the graveyards,” (Burton, page 969). There were most likely multiple bodies per grave in many instances.

In those days, the City Sexton was the title of the official gravedigger and person in charge of a cemetery. Originally, the City Sexton was tasked with selling plots (half or full) at the Russell Street Cemetery to people, which ranged in cost from five to ten dollars. The city of Detroit created the office of City Sexton on March 17, 1829 and it was abolished in 1879.

The first sexton of Detroit was Israel Noble. He was nominated by the mayor, then appointed by Common Council. He served as Sexton from 1829-32, then 1835-49. Noble, incongruously detached from living up to the meaning of his last name, supposedly sold Russell Street Cemetery lots under the table for some side cash, hence the mysterious lack of “official records”.

Noble was also, at one point, the keeper of the lighthouse in Monroe, Michigan.

Detroit Daily Advertiser (April 3, 1873)

In 1841, Mt. Elliott Cemetery opened, which helped divert burials from Russell Street.

In 1842, Dr. George Russell built a “Contagious Disease Hospital” on the potter’s field area of the Russell Street Cemetery. In reality, it was a small rickety shed. However, it may have been the first building in the Midwest dedicated to treating contagious diseases. The shed didn’t last long.

Then in 1846, the posh new Elmwood Cemetery opened, which served to briefly alleviate the overcrowding of the Russell Street Cemetery.

As the years went by, the city notoriously failed to maintain the Russell Street Cemetery and it became desperately rundown. One report stated that “People would steal tombstones and use them as doorsteps and beer counters,” (Lazar, page 15).

April 10, 1855, the Health Committee advises Detroit Common Council that no more burials should be allowed at Russell Street Cemetery. This was 27 years before the cemetery was officially closed in 1882, so there was definitely a long history of the cemetery being wretched and unkempt.

old Russell Street Cemetery, Detroit map

In 1857, Mayor Ledyard publicly called the cemetery a “disgrace” and wanted it torn down. Also, in May 1857, modern-day Division Street was constructed and cut right through the cemetery.

On July 6, 1861, a prison was built on a part of the cemetery (area roughly bound by Russell, Riopelle, Alfred, and Wilkins) called the Detroit House of Corrections (aka: DeHoCo). It remained there until 1931 when the prison was relocated 30 miles west to the city of Plymouth, Michigan.

original Detroit House of Corrections (DeHoCo) map (1861-1931) possible boundaries

Detroit Advertiser (May 16, 1865)

In 1868, modern-day Winder Street opened through the cemetery.

Fed up with the abysmal conditions of the cemetery, on April 20, 1869, Detroit city council ordered that no more bodies be buried at Russell Street Cemetery. Over the next 13 years, thousands of corpses were periodically transferred to Elmwood, Mt. Elliott, and the new 250-acre “rural cemetery” called Woodmere, which was formally dedicated July 14, 1869.

Woodmere Cemetery was located only a mere 8 miles west of Russell Street Cemetery, but at that time was considered rural countryside. Prior to being a cemetery, Woodmere was a Revolutionary War-era shipyard where several ships were built.

The City Sexton at the time, a German man named Valentine Geist, spearheaded the transfer of bodies from Russell Street Cemetery to Woodmere. He lived 1824-95 and served as Sexton in the years 1864, 1871-74, 1878. He also ran an undertaking business on Monroe Street downtown. He’s buried at Elmwood.

Around about 1870, the first makeshift Hay and Wood Market was built on Russell Street (between Adelaide and Division) and some independent street vendors started selling farm-grown produce from their own carts and wagons in proto-Eastern Market along Russell Street near the cemetery.

However, over the decade (1870-1880), nothing much happened at the Russell Street Cemetery except the tombstones became mossgrown, the cemetery became weedy and neglected, and people used to mess around in the cemetery at all hours of the day and night. A sad trend throughout history is that old, neglected cemeteries tend to become general dumping grounds.

Detroit Daily Advertiser (November 16, 1871)

Then on May 14, 1879, the Circuit Court ordered the cemetery to be officially vacated. Various contracts were issued for the removal and reinternment of the remaining cadavers in other cemeteries: Woodmere, Elmwood, Mt. Elliott, and elsewhere. This task was coordinated by the Board of Public Works. One of the few names mentioned in the newspaper, a man named John Griswold, was reinterred at Woodmere.

One wave, some 1,493 caskets, were removed in 1880 and re-buried at the City Hospital grounds in Grosse Pointe. In 1881, another 1,668 remains were shipped out. Then in early 1882, some 1,357 bodies were relocated. Various numbers are given in the newspapers, but the final destination of the caskets is not always given, thus, it’s impossible to know for sure what bodies went where.

By 1882, all known remains were removed from Russell Street Cemetery.

 

The Unclaimed Dead (or what happened next?)

 

April 22, 1906 (Detroit News) page 21

Conner’s Creek, named for Henry Conner, existed from 1840-1925, according to Dr. Krepps (page 21 of her report). The Algonquin lived here prior to city development.

In 1872, Antoine Dubay owned a farm here. The deed was purchased from him on August 24, 1872 by Frederick Ruehle (sometimes spelled Ruelle). Frederick quickly turned around and sold the 34-acre property to the city of Detroit on October 18, 1872. He purchased the 34 acres for $3,000 and conveniently sold it less than two months later for $6,000.

At the time, this property was in the neighboring city of Grosse Pointe, which is where Detroit wanted to build a City Hospital for smallpox victims (aka: the Grosse Pointe Pest House), but the deal never fully went through. A structure was built here but was never used as a hospital.

Instead, a large corner of the farm became the Conner Creek Cemetery (aka: Third City Cemetery or the City Hospital Grounds, as it was commonly called at the time). It was used to re-bury the unclaimed/unidentified bodies from the Russell Street Cemetery.

The cemetery was dedicated August 27, 1880. It eventually contained around 4,500 bodies, which were (most likely) transferred via wagon some five miles NE up Gratiot Ave to Harper Ave and over to Conner Creek. Between 1880-1882, some 4,500 bodies were taken from Russell Street Cemetery to Conner Creek Cemetery.

Gratiot Avenue, at that time called Fort Gratiot Road, was constructed  between 1829-1833.

Conner Creek Cemetery, Detroit map

In November 1881, the city of Detroit did build a pest house structure on the SW corner of Conner at Olga Street, however, it was never used because Grosse Pointe effectively blocked the construction of a pest house (smallpox hospital) in their town. So, the city rented it to a farmer, whose name is listed sometimes as August Stahlman, other times as August Schultz, and he ended up living inside the 24 x 76 building for a few decades.

The structure burned down in 1923. Currently, the Wayne County Community College Eastern Campus is located where this structure used to be.

Furthermore, a playground called the Conner Playfield (located on Conner, north of Harper) was built over a portion of the cemetery at some point, possibly in the 1930’s or early 1940’s.

The Conner Creek Cemetery was largely forgotten for decades until October 6, 1950 when utility workers accidentally dug up some corpses and a tombstone across from a house at 6020 Gunston. During Virginia Clohset’s discovery interview of Ida and Pasquale Gianfermi (residents of 6020 Gunston St), Ida said she vividly recalled the 1950 dig and said that spectators took bones home as souvenirs.

Then on April 4, 1958, the city of Detroit sells the property containing the Conner Creek Cemetery to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) via quit claim deed. MDOT ends up building a freeway interchange over a portion of the cemetery. The construction of the (Edsel) Ford Freeway, which jaggedly divided the area, facilitated the unearthing of more remains.

Nearly two more decades passed without any press or acknowledgement.

Conner Creek Cemetery boulder-plaque memorial

Then, on October 16, 1976, a boulder-plaque was officially placed at the intersection of Conner St & Hern St to commemorate the Conner Creek Cemetery, which was listed as having 4,518 known graves at the time. “It is the only cemetery belonging to the Michigan State Highway department. Many bodies now rest under the roadbed of Conner Street.” (Detroit Free Press article).

The boulder-plaque was courtesy of the Michigan Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

In April 2013, MDOT archeologists and their Pavement Evaluation Unit performed spot excavations and used ground penetrating radar (GPR) to investigate the subsurface of the Conner Creek Cemetery. They found “clearly defined subsurface anomalies, indicative of dense, solid objects.” However, the soil profile (ie: moist silt) in that particular area makes it essentially impossible to use GPR accurately.

Currently (October 2021), the triangle patch of land with the boulder-marker is still there at Conner and Hern. To get there, plug in the address 6008 Gunston Ave, Detroit. This is the neighborhood where Ravendale meets Chandler Park on the NW side of the Chandler Park Golf Course, which itself has been there since the 1920’s (most likely 1923).

Thanks to the amazing efforts of Dr. Karen Krepps, this area has been designated as an archeology site #20WN383. In 1984, she was commissioned by the Eastern Wayne County Historical Society (EWCHS) to write a report about the cemetery. Her report is fascinating, highly detailed and insightful, and I especially agree with her assertion that “cemeteries are important cultural resources.”

Big Question:

Are the various unclaimed human remains still there? Nobody knows.

However, on page 46 of her report, Dr. Krepps states, “The prime area has enjoyed minimal below ground disturbance and may well contain human remains reinterred from the Russell Street Cemetery.”

What ended up happening with the old Russell Street Cemetery property? Let’s take a look.

Conner Creek Cemetery boulder-plaque memorial

 

Some Eastern Market History

early Easter Market Detroit (DPL Burton Historical Collection)

After the dismantling of the Russell Street Cemetery, Eastern Market gradually came into being and transformed the area.

By 1885, there was a small market and scales for weighing produce at the NE corner of Division and Russell.

Eastern Market was created in 1889 when the Detroit Common Council formally established the boundaries of the Eastern Hay Market, also known as the Hay and Wood Market.

The construction of Eastern Market’s Shed 1 (Russell St, between Winder and High St) by Richard E. Raseman, was completed in September 1890. It was tiny, supposedly only 575 x 208 feet, rickety and was destroyed in a violent storm on December 23, 1890.

Aerial drone photo of Eastern Market Sheds Detroit (courtesy of Josh Garcia at JDG Innovative)

Shed 1 was rebuilt in 1891 and lasted until 1967 when the creation of the Fisher Freeway forced the shed to become a parking lot. In 1898, Raseman built Shed 2.

Shed 3 was built in 1922 as an “all-weather shed”. Shed 4 was constructed in 1938 and Shed 5 in 1939. They are connected by a covered walkway. In the 1950’s, Rosie the Riveter (real name Rose Kurlandsky) ran a produce stand here at Eastern Market. Her stall was located across from the Samuel Brothers Deli.

In 1965, Shed 6 is built. It’s a long, narrow shed with a roof and no walls.

In 1980, the original Shed 5 is demolished and a new Shed 5, along with a 2-story parking structure, are built in 1981. All of the Sheds were majorly renovated in the early 2000’s.

To this day, Eastern Market is a major cultural attraction in the city of Detroit, visited by millions of people annually.

 

 

Final Thoughts

Graveyard stock photo (courtesy of Unsplash)

In 1834, when the Russell Street Cemetery was created, Detroit had a population of around 5,000 people, according to census data. By the time the cemetery officially closed in 1882, Detroit was a rapidly expanding metropolis with a population of around 150,000 people.

Big cities have fascinating histories and trajectories. They tend to expand so rapidly that many of the historical facts and stories are lost to time and never fully recovered.

Detroit’s very first cemetery was located behind St. Anne’s log church at the NW corner of Jefferson and Griswold. This cemetery was functional 1701-1760 and consisted mostly of French Catholics in mostly unmarked graves. The cemetery moved several times after that.

Are some still buried there? The probability is high that there are indeed still human remains there. Such is the case with any large city. All big cities are dotted with random buried corpses from centuries past, hidden under modern-day structures like skyscrapers and apartment buildings.

Is this true of all early cemeteries? Were ALL the graves exhumed and relocated? Or are some still hidden down below, awaiting discovery?

The unclaimed dead from the Russell Street Cemetery. The nameless who were buried, most likely multiple bodies per grave, in the Conner Creek Cemetery, who were they? Where are their bodies at this exact moment?

Whatever may happen or not happen in the future, PLEASE RESPECT the land and the remains.

 

 

Where did you find this information?

Libraries, mostly, and some online repositories. I love libraries. As a lifelong library enthusiast and haunter of book collections, I highly recommend everyone spend more time at these sanctuaries of knowledge. Leave your phone in the car. It’s a good respite from the endless overwhelming digital switch-tasking bombardment perpetually fragmenting your time and sanity.

The bulk of this information was derived from poring over hundreds of vintage Detroit newspapers, along with heavy digging inside the Library of Michigan, the State of Michigan’s main library, in Lansing. Shout out to librarian, Adam Oster, for helping this wayward lad track down some primary source material. I would’ve been at the DPL’s Burton Collection in Detroit talking Mark Bowden’s ear off, but they’ve been closed for a while, first Covid, then flooding. Hope to explore upon their glorious re-opening.

Big thank you to the State Historic Preservation Office (archeologist Michael Hambacher) for providing Dr. Krepps report. And, to MDOT state archeologist James Robertson, for his kindness and alacrity on the FOIA request.

Thank you to Patrick Shaul at the Detroit Society for Genealogical Research for tracking down and scanning the incredibly hard-to-find 5-part article by Detroit archeologist Charles Martinez.

Thanks also to MDOT’s FOIA coordinator Fae Gibson for sending me a disc containing several key documents.

Also, this article is a work-in-progress. Please fact-check me and help me update it. If you have any pertinent and critical information, please email me at place313 at gmail dot com. Thank you!

 

 

Bibliography

Krepps, Dr. Karen Lee. Land Use History of Conner Creek Cemetery (20WN383) Containing as Well Background Studies of Clinton Park and Russell Street Cemeteries in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. K.L. Krepps, 1984.

Burton, Clarence & Agnes. History of Wayne County & the City of Detroit. Vol 2. SJ Clarke Pub. Co., 1930.

Caitlin, George & Robert Ross. Landmarks of Wayne County and Detroit. Detroit, Evening News Association, 1898.

Clohset, Virginia C. The Detroit City Cemetery in Grosse Pointe. Self-made, 1976. (this detailed 64-page report can be FOIA’ed from MDOT)

Detroit Free Press archives.

Detroit News archives.

Farmer, Silas. History of Detroit and Michigan. Detroit, S. Farmer & Co, 1889.

Fogelman, Randall & Lisa Rush. Detroit’s Historic Eastern Market. Arcadia, 2013.

Hershenzon, Gail. Detroit’s Woodmere Cemetery. Arcadia, 2006.

Krepps, Dr. Karen Lee. Land Use History of Conner Creek Cemetery (20WN383) Containing as Well Background Studies of Clinton Park and Russell Street Cemeteries in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. K.L. Krepps, 1984. (this incredibly difficult-to-obtain report can be located at the State Historic Preservation Office).

Lazar, Pamela. Directory of Cemeteries in Wayne County. Dearborn Genealogical Society, 1982.

Maps (assorted).

Martinez, Charles. “Death Defiled: The Calamity of Russell Street Cemetery.” The Detroit Society for Genealogical Research Magazine, vol. 63-64, Spring 2000-Winter 2001. (this hard to find 5-part article can be purchased via the Detroit Society for Genealogical Research).

Palmer, Gen. Friend. Early Days in Detroit. Hunt & June, 1906.

 

Detroit Free Press newspaper clippings (and some Detroit News clippings):

*These are screenshots of newspapers Detroit Free Press and Detroit News mainly, along with a few other papers. The ones not marked are Detroit Free Press.

January 09, 1838 (entry for James Witherell from the Biographical Directory of American Congress)

May 01, 1870

At this time, the Eastern District hay and wood market was on Hastings Street.

 

November 02, 1870

 

February 02, 1871

 

July 29, 1873

“At a late hour Saturday evening, some boys discovered a man disrobing himself near the Russell Street Cemetery. When they approached, he attacked them vigorously. The next morning he was discovered in the cemetery. He jumped up from behind a tombstone and fired shots from his revolver. He was not wearing any clothes and went running down Russell Street.”

 

September 17, 1874

“A dreary spot. The Russell Street Cemetery is one of the most dreary and neglected spots in Detroit. Scraggy trees, rank weeds, broken tombstones and sunken graves meet the eye everywhere, and the fences are falling down and going to decay.”

 

January 30, 1875

An old horse of an ash collector fell while pulling his wagon. He fell in front of the cemetery and was flogged by the owner so badly that someone came up and shot the horse in the head to put it out of its misery.

 

May 29, 1875

“Condemned as a public nuisance and recommending it’s abatement.”

 

April 15, 1876 (from the Detroit Daily Advertiser)

 

May 02, 1876 (from the Detroit Daily Post)

 

May 04, 1876

“Oscar Davis tries to steal a human skull at the Russell Street Cemetery but is caught and arrested.”

 

November 23, 1876 (from the Detroit Daily Advertiser)

 

 

April 26, 1877

George Moorehouse (9) got his left eye knocked out by a spear while hunting for frogs with a group of boys inside RSC.

 

August 22, 1877

 

1878

Alderman Youngblood states that the city wants to make Russell Street Cemetery the location of Eastern Market.

 

 

October 20, 1878

Proposals for disinterring bodies from Russell Street Cemetery and re-interring them at Woodmere Cemetery are entertained by William Purcell, president of the Board of Public Works.

 

October 03, 1879

In one of the graves, 3 corpses were found, “believed they were victims of cholera and buried in haste”

 

October 29, 1879 (DFP, page 5)

special thanks to Eloise for this article

Capt. John Burtis and John Griswold, Russell Street Cemetery, Detroit (thanks to Eloise for this)

 

 

October 30, 1879

 

 

November 14, 1879

“A pile of old coffins, which were dug up last week, presents a ghastly sight in the old RSC.”

 

November 18, 1879

Germans want to hold Saengerfest (a type of choir singing festival) on the old RSC grounds.

 

November 22, 1879

 

November 12, 1880

Still digging up bodies. Body removal is funded by “collection of city taxes”.

 

October 04, 1881

Bid to disinter bodies and re-inter them is awarded to Hugh Fallon who says he will do it for 93 cents per body and 25 cents per fence.

 

October 31, 1881

“An interesting discovery was made on Saturday in the old RSC, where the work of digging up the dead is in progress. Two bodies were found to be petrified and in a natural state with the exception of the heads, which had crumbled into dust.”

 

November 03, 1881

 

January 11, 1882

 

October 26, 1882

Contract for removing 1400 bodes to the City Hospital in Grosse Pointe. Disinterred at 100 per day, being done under the direction of the Board of Public Works. Reinterred at City Hospital Grounds GP.

 

October 30, 1882

 

November 03, 1882 (Detroit News)

“Some coffins are very primitive. One was made of sidewalk planks. The remains of a very small body were found inside a soap box. The depth at which they’re buried varies greatly. Some are a foot and a half under the surface, others are 6-7 feet. Some bodies are missing (from coffins). Students having snatched them for dissecting purposes.”

 

February 14, 1883

“The remains of 1,357 bodies were removed from the Russell Street Cemetery to the City Cemetery Grounds at Grosse Pointe at an expense of $1,153.10”

 

May 30, 1883

 

September 04, 1887

August Stahlman (Grosse Pointe) farm 36 acres, 2 acres used for bodies from the Russell Street Cemetery, “several thousand skeletons removed from Russell Street Cemetery”.

 

 

June 15, 1898

“Laborers brought up a decayed coffin containing a skeleton while excavating for drainage pipes for the new Eastern Market on the old Russell Street Cemetery”.

 

June 14, 1902

Human bones are found while digging at the old Russell Street Cemetery grounds.

 

 

April 22, 1906 (Detroit News)

The city of Detroit owns 34-acre farm in Grosse Pointe. “The farm is rented by a tenant, August Schultz, who has occupied the property for 20 years. It was bought by the Detroit board of health October 18, 1872 to be used as a site for a pest house, or contagious disease hospital.”

 

 

June 30, 1910

 

 

October 06, 1950 (Detroit News)

“A page of Detroit’s past has been rudely opened by a gang of workmen who have uncovered an ancient cemetery while extending an electric cable pit along the Gunston playground between Harper and Conner avenues.”

 

May 23, 1967 (DFP page 3-A)

special thanks to Frank Castronova for sending this article over

 

 

November 19, 1978

 

 

Assorted Maps and Images

old Detroit cemeteries map (Detroit Free Press)

Map from Dr. Krepps 1984 report Land Use History of Conner Creek Cemetery (20WN383) Containing as Well Background Studies of Clinton Park and Russell Street Cemeteries in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. K.L. Krepps, 1984.

Map from Dr. Krepps 1984 report Land Use History of Conner Creek Cemetery (20WN383) Containing as Well Background Studies of Clinton Park and Russell Street Cemeteries in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. K.L. Krepps, 1984.

Map from Dr. Krepps 1984 report Land Use History of Conner Creek Cemetery (20WN383) Containing as Well Background Studies of Clinton Park and Russell Street Cemeteries in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. K.L. Krepps, 1984.

Map from Dr. Krepps 1984 report Land Use History of Conner Creek Cemetery (20WN383) Containing as Well Background Studies of Clinton Park and Russell Street Cemeteries in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. K.L. Krepps, 1984.

3rd Annual Detroit Festival of Books! (Sunday, July 21st, 2019) we will be in SHED 3

3rd Annual Detroit Festival of Books! (Sunday, July 21st, 2019) we will be in SHED 3

3rd Annual Detroit Festival of Books (aka: Detroit Bookfest)!

*Special Thank You to Lauren Rautiola, our Detroit Bookfest Project Manager, for designing our flyers!*

 

The 3rd Annual Detroit Festival of Books (aka: Detroit Bookfest) is a glorious day of BOOKS, vinyl records, comics, creative arts, food, beer, funk music and more!

Please join us at Eastern Market Shed 3 in Detroit on Sunday, July 21st, 2019.

The event is FREE for attendees! There will be an estimated 10,000+ attendees.

Event hours are 10am-4pm.

All the event details are here:

https://detroitbookfest.com/event-details-facts/

 

 

What is Shed 3 @ Eastern Market? 

Detroit Bookfest will be located inside Shed 3. To get near there, use the address 2934 Russell Street, Detroit, MI.

Shed 3 is located on Russell Street, between Division St & Adelaide St.

Built in 1922, Shed 3 is 29,000-square feet. The layout features 4 wings in a cross-shape. It is the “main” and largest shed at Eastern Market.

Shed 3 features bathrooms, large garage door-walls and free wi-fi.

 

Click on this link for a 3-D tour of Shed 3 (courtesy of Eastern Market):

https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=jiHWwWLKs4B

 

Shed 3

 

Exclusive Interview: JOHN KING, owner of John K. King Used & Rare Books in Detroit, internationally voted one of the World’s Best Bookstores!

 

If you are interested in applying to be a Vendor, read this: 

https://detroitbookfest.com/vendor-application/

 

Please fill out the Vendor Application form and you will be entered into the VNQ (Vendor Notification Queue).

The VNQ is a database of potential vendors. If you are selected to be a vendor, you will be notified via email.

Please note that we have received thousands of emails from people wanting to be vendors at Detroit Bookfest.

 

If you have any questions, please email:

[email protected]

Thank you, we love you all!

 

3rd Annual Detroit Festival of Books Facebook event page

https://www.facebook.com/events/2128622190753187/

 

Detroit Bookfest

 

According to our website statistics:

www.DetroitBookFest.com averages around 50,000 unique views per year.

Our top 10 countries are:

USA

Canada

France

UK

Brazil

Germany

India

Australia

Italy

Norway

 

Our top 10 states are:

Michigan

Ohio

Illinois

New York

California

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Florida

Texas

Colorado

 

Our top 10 cities in Michigan are:

Detroit

Ann Arbor

Grand Rapids

Royal Oak

Dearborn

Plymouth

Clinton Township

Troy

Farmington Hills

Livonia

 

Detroit Bookfest!

400+ Photos from the 2nd Annual Detroit Festival of Books @ Eastern Market!

150+ Photos from the 1st annual Detroit Festival of Books @ Eastern Market!

Exclusive Interview: Detroit’s Eastern Market Manager LONNI THOMAS!

Exclusive Interview: Detroit’s Eastern Market Manager LONNI THOMAS!

 

*Detroit Bookfest would not have been possible at Eastern Market without the love and support of Eastern Market Manager Lonni Thomas*

 

Detroit is a great American city and the Eastern Market Neighborhood is one of the top retail districts in Detroit and one of the top food hubs in the USA.

The Eastern Market District has been around since 1891 and contains over 250 businesses and the entire neighborhood is growing at a rapid rate.

 

Eastern Market (c. 1930’s) photo courtesy of Wayne State University

 

Eastern Market is a phenomenal resource and destination spot. I cannot imagine the City of Detroit without Eastern Market, that’s how important the Eastern Market District is to the entire Greater Detroit community.

The five Sheds at Eastern Market are large consumer buildings and total around 165,000 square feet of space, which is used as both wholesale food market on some days and rented out for a wide variety of public & private events on other days.

Eastern Market Manager, Lonni Thomas, has been a pivotal figure at the Market over the past few years and this is her tale.

 

Biography

Lonni Thomas, Eastern Market Manager

 

“I was born and raised in Detroit. I love working at Eastern Market! I also like to read, write, dance, etc. I also love going to poetry slams. To me, poetry is so emotional and effective and listening to different poetry live can really have an impact on you by making you think differently about things.”

 

Aerial View of Detroit, Michigan USA

 

Lonni Arrives at Eastern Market

“I was adopted into the Eastern Market Corporation family in 2010 as a Farm Stand Fellow. I used to do the food assistance tokens program here, which is designed to help people have greater access to fresh produce. Through that I gained several great relationships, including Dan Carmody and Doshia Barton.”

“I used to volunteer at the EMC office on weekends. Then in 2011, I graduated from Wayne State University and needed a job. The woman who used to design t-shirts for Eastern Market was in transition and before she did, she helped get me into her position and I started designing Eastern Market gear and apparel. Progressively, I started creating relationships with Eastern Market vendors.  And as the variety of my responsibilities increased, I started spending more and more time at the Market.”

“I had office experience from my days working as a WSU Student Assistant, so I began shadowing the Sunday Market Manager at Eastern Market in 2014 because she needed an assistant. A few years later, through a series of gradual internal promotions, I was given the Sunday Market Manager position in 2016. Since then we have increased our footprint significantly and sustainably.”

“I also coordinate the Tuesday Market Community Programs and the Thursday Night Market.”

 

Eastern Market 101

Map of Eastern Market SHEDS

 

“Eastern Market is a historic urban public market. Overall, the Market is robust and vivacious and can get real busy. The Market is a great, safe atmosphere, no matter what day you come visit. We attract a very diverse group of people and the Eastern Market District has a wide variety of merchants.”

“Eastern Market is run by the EMC. The Eastern Market Corporation is a non-profit that was started in 2006 to manage Eastern Market. The City of Detroit owns the land and used to run the Market prior to the formation of the EMC. A group of urban planners pitched the idea of revitalizing the Eastern Market District. The city loved it and let them take over the Market.”

“Our 150-acre expansion plan is in the works. Building on our food hub nickname, the plan is designed to help build the food innovation mission we have and create over 3,000 jobs by 2025.”

 

Map of Eastern Market District

 

“We also have a brewery in our neighborhood now, the Eastern Market Brewing Company. And recently, Henry the Hatter moved from Broadway to Riopelle, just down the street from the EMBC.”

“One thing I love too is that artwork has become very prevalent throughout the District, especially the Murals in the Market series.”

“Murals in the Market has helped create over 100 murals in the district, making us as we say an ‘international public arts destination, while creating a world-class outdoor gallery of art’.”

“Many people want to know how they can open a brick-and-mortar storefront here in the district. I always tell them to contact the owners of the building they are interested in.”

 

The Legendary Dan Carmody

Dan Carmody, President of Eastern Market Corporation

 

Dan Carmody is the President of the EMC. Working with Dan is fun! He’s been responsible for my growth and helping to push me to get certain projects done. He doesn’t burn you for failing, he burns you for not trying.”

“In that 1999 movie ‘Life’, there’s a scene where two guys are standing on coke bottles, trying to keep their balance. That’s what it’s like working with Dan, he’s unpredictable daily, constantly and you appreciate the sense of unexpectedness.”

“Having Dan here is like having some zen monk here at Eastern Market who makes you think about things differently. Watching him give speeches about the Market and how he delivers our mission, it’s remarkable.”

 

Eastern Market’s Largest Events

Eastern Market Flower Day @ 6 a.m.

 

Eastern Market Flower Day started in 1967. The event is only one day long but averages 150,000-200,000 people. We do it in conjunction with the Metro Detroit Flower Growers Association. Flower Day opens everything, it’s the start of our season, the market starts blooming.”

Eastern Market After Dark started in 2010. It’s a creative arts event that we do in conjunction with the Detroit Design Festival. We get about 25,000 people for it.”

 

Detroit Festival of Books (aka: Detroit Bookfest)

 

The Detroit Festival of Books, also known as Detroit Bookfest, is an incredibly positive and popular event. The very first year, there were well over 10,000 attendees, which is just wild for a first-time event to have that many people there.”

“People are excited and curious about Bookfest. Everybody wants to sell books and records and other stuff at it. I get asked almost daily if Bookfest is still accepting vendors, it’s crazy how many people are interested in the event. Bookfest is one of the top vendor events we’ve ever seen in the city, everyone wants to be a vendor. It’s a true phenomenon.”

“Detroit Bookfest this year might have over 20,000 people.”

 

Lonni’s Favorites

Burger @ Cutters Bar (photo courtesy of Yelp)

 

Here are some of Lonni’s favorite go-to eateries in Detroit:

Basement Burger Bar (1326 Brush St) for the turkey burger and the mambo burger

Cutters (2638 Orleans st) and Café D’Mongo’s (1439 Griswold St) are her favorite bars

Stache International (1416 E. Fisher Service Dr) for the Southern Belle sandwich

Andiamo’s (400 Renaissance Center) Italian food inside the RenCen while overlooking the Detroit River

2941 Street Food (4219 Woodward) Fantastic Mediterranean food from a world-class chef

 

Lonni’s Final Thoughts

Lonni Thomas

 

I love Detroit. I was born here, raised here, still live here. I’m here until my cup runneth over. Detroit’s revitalization has been in the making for at least 10 years.”

“We’re witnessing a tremendous transformation right now stemming from a plan created by people who have been business owners for a few decades here.”

“Detroit is often called “the city that grew from ashes” a few yeas ago but in actuality our house never burned down fully because we have such a strong foundation.”

 

 

Eastern Market Weekly Market Days

Tuesday Market

9am-3pm

 

Thursday Night Market

5pm-10pm

 

Saturday Market

6am-4pm

225 vendors; 40,000 guests

 

Sunday Market

10am-4pm

 

Lonni Thomas clownin’

 

Eastern Market Homepage

https://www.easternmarket.org/

 

Maps of Eastern Market

https://www.easternmarket.org/district/maps

 

List of Businesses in Eastern Market

https://www.easternmarket.org/district/directory

 

4th International Mural Fest with 1xRUN in September 2018

www.muralsinthemarket.com

 

Dan Carmody’s article on the Market 

http://detroitisit.com/eastern-market-more-than-125-years-in-the-making/

 

Eastern Market’s 2025 Strategy Plan

http://wxystudio.com/projects/planning/detroit_eastern_market_2025_strategy_plan

 

E & B Brewery Lofts (Located in the Eastern Market District inside the old Eckhardt & Becker Brewery which brewed beer here 1891-1969) 

http://e-bbrewerylofts.com/

 

Eastern Market (c. 1930’s) photo courtesy of Wayne State University

Eastern Market (c. 1930’s) photo courtesy of Wayne State University