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Detroit and Eastern Market History                                                        rev 4/22/01


Detroit History

EM Area/Social History

Market History




1701 (July 24) – Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac lands and begins to build Fort Pontchartrain du Detroit  (2)

1701 – Eastern Market area is a woodlands, inhabited by Native Americans  (5)





1751 – the 50th birthday of Detroit.  There were 483 people in the village.  (Also 471 cows – nearly one per person!!  - and 160 horses).  City renamed to Fort Detroit.  (2)

1751 – Settlers in the fort are beginning to farm on ‘ribbon farms’ outside the fort, during this general time.  (The farmers are remembered because their names coincide with the streets along their property – St. Aubin, Beaubien, etc.)  (2)

Eastern Market area is probably not yet farmland at this time. 





1763 – the Treaty of Paris (to end the 7-year French and Indian War) gives all of Canada (and Fort Detroit) to the British. (2)






1775 – 1783 Detroit is a British colony during the Revolutionary War (and beyond).  Various battles ensued between the British, Americans, and Indians for the next 10+ years. (2)






1782 – a group of Protestant missionaries (the Moravians) found a settlement near what’s now the Hillcrest Country Club.  This is the first settlement in what is now Macomb county. 

One of their legacies is a road that links Detroit to Mt. Clemens – part of which eventually becomes Gratiot.  (2)






1795 – The British sign a treaty surrendering Detroit and other Northwest outposts to the United States. (2)








1802 – when Detroit was incorporated, the third ordinance was passed to establish a public market.  This market (the old Central Market site) occupied Cadillac Square from 1841 to 1891.  (No info on 1802 – 1841.)  (4)




1805 (January) – the Michigan Territory is established, with Detroit as its capital.  (2)






1805 (June)  – the city of Detroit burns down.

- Population of Detroit is about 700.  (1)

- City to be rebuilt according to Judge Augustus Woodward plan.  




1807 – Gouin family buys farmland (ribbon farms) in the Eastern Market area.  (3)





1810 – Detroit’s population was about 750 (Ranked 53rd in population of US cities) (1)






1827 – the first city cemetery (at present day Woodward and Larned – northeast corner) was almost filled, although there were no orders to vacate for another 24 years (1851).  (4)






1830’s – Detroit’s population influenced by the opening of the Eric Canal (October, 1825), allowing a direct water route from the east coast to the Michigan Territory  (1)

1830’s – first wave of German immigrants.  They settle in the area that is now Greektown.  (4)






1834 – City of Detroit buys the (bankrupt) Gouin Farm for use as a city cemetery Protestant (1/2), Catholic (1/4), and Potters Field (1/4).)

1834 – First burial in the new cemetery.   Burials continue until 1869? 





1837 (January 26) – Michigan becomes the 26th state.  (Note – had to wait for a ‘slave state’ – Arkansas (June 15, 1836, the 25th) – to join to keep the free state / slave state balance in the government.)   (5)






1840 – Detroit’s population was 9,100 (Ranked 31st in population of US cities) (1)







1842 – Dr. George Russell had a Contagious Disease Hospital built on a portion of the ‘potters field’ section of the cemetery.  (First such hospital in the ‘western part of the US.’)  (4)





1851 (150 years after its founding) – Detroit is a city of about 26,000 people.  There are 600 brick buildings and 4000 wood buildings.  286 of those are selling groceries, provisions, or liquor.  (2)

1850 – 10% of Detroit’s population is German.  (4)







1853 – Building which is currently the Ciaramitaro Brothers Wholesale Produce – Commission House was built. (This is actually two buildings – the one on the east was built by 1853, the west building in 1888.) (4)





1855 – Land (in EM area) deemed too valuable for a cemetery.  (4) Graves moved to Grosse Pointe?  What about 1880-1882 move???  What about the Pest House???






1859 – Dominique Riopelle dies, (Riopelle) farm willed to son Dominique, Jr.  (4)






1860 – 1861 – House of Correction built, on part of the cemetery grounds. 

- Until 1885 – prison for other territories of US.  After 1885, limited to Michigan citizens. 

- 1862 – House of Correction Park established.  Part of the Protestant cemetery was reclaimed for a park.






1868 – Christian Breisacher purchased the (current) Ciarimiataro Brothers building.

(Breisacher was variously listed on the city roles as a laborer, shoe maker, and huckster (hay seller))






1868 – House of Shelter built on the site of the House of Correction Park.  Closed in 1874, and became the residence of the House of Correction superintendent.  . 






1870 – Cornerstone of St. Joseph’s Church (Roman Catholic) was laid at current location.  (It was to be the ‘largest in the city’.)  (4)

1870 – Eastern District hay and wood market moved to the area, from Hastings Street to Russell Street, near the House of Correction. (4)










1870’s – second wave of German immigrants.  (why?)







1874 – St John’s Church (Evangelical) was dedicated on its current location. (4)





1880 – Detroit was the 17th largest city (population) in the nation (1)







1880 – 1882 – over 4500 graves were moved to accommodate the Market site (4)






1883 – Dominique Riopelle, Jr., dies in testate (without a will).  He leaves eight children of age and one minor child of 18. (4)

- the farm is subdivided into lots and divided among his heirs.  (4). 






1884 -






1885 – Rudolph Hirt purchases Lot K and building of the Riopelle farm.  (Note – this is not the current building.)  (4)






1888 – the Marazza family opened a boarding house on the site of the current Roma Café.

1888 – new Market site established between High (?) and Winder streets (in the current parking lot) (4)



1890 – Site demolished by high winds.  (Site feared as sacrilegious and possibly haunted, and considered demolition a sign of judgment.  While the shed was being constructed, some graves were upturned that hadn’t been moved.)  Also, in 1889, while walking past the new market, a young woman saw a phantom with outstretched arms wailing at the moon.  (4)





1891 – E&B Brewery moved to building at Orleans and Winder  (4)







1892 – Shed #1 built.  (Currently parking lot.)  Stood until 1967 when it was razed to build the Chrysler Freeway) (4)






1898 – Shed 2 built (architect – Richard Raseman) (4)





By 1900, there were 32,000 Germans in Detroit – the largest foreign-born group in the city.  (4)




1915 – SHG builds GCM

1918 – Detroit votes in Prohibition, two years earlier than US. (??)







1918 – Busy Bee General Store established. 







1922 – Shed 3 built (architect – John Scott).  Built to be fireproof. (4)




1924 – Job Wigley opens his store in Gratiot Central Market. (6)


1931– current Historic Trinity Lutheran Church built (7)




1938 – 1939 – Sheds 4 and 5 built.  (4)



1965 – built to help house farmers displaced by the closing of the Western Market in 1966.   The Chene/Ferry Market is almost inactive.  (4 year old info? 2001)  (4)


1967 – Chrysler Freeway built, dividing the neighborhood.



1967 – Flower Day began.  (4) The start of the ‘summer season’ at the Market.  3rd Sunday of May – the Sunday after Mother’s Day, although Flower Weekend has been in the publicity lately. 




1967 (?) – GCM burns down – resurrected


Early 1970’s – Alex Pollock and Supergraphics in the Market. (4)




1995 – Gratiot Central Market burns again.  Rebuilt and reopened xx/xx/xx



Sources –        

(1)   Historic Preservation Developer’s Handbook, prepared by Zachary and Associates, Inc., September 1999

(2)   The Detroit Almanac, edited by Peter Gavrilovich and Bill McGraw

(3)   – Information from web site links for the Eastern Market tour. 

(4)   – Information from Preservation Wayne Eastern Market Tour handouts

(5)   – Information from Rabbi Sherwin Wine’s lectures on the history of Detroit, January/February, 2001

(6)   – Research from tour guides – 2001

– Historic Trinity Lutheran Church web site, 2001