Thursday, August 2, 2018

Detroit's J.L. Hudson's Department Store Relic

By: Gretchen Sawatzki

Every major city had one; a department stored. New York has Macy's, Chicago had Marshall Fields and Detroit had J.L. Hudson's Department. Opening in 1911, and situated on the busy corners of Woodward and Gratiot avenues in the heart of the city, J.L. Hudson's was a massive building occupying nearly 200,000 square feet inside over 30 floors.

View of Hudson's Department Store 1929. Image Credit.

For Detroiters a trip to J.L. Hudson's was an event. At just over 400 feet tall, it was the tallest department store in the world, and offered nearly 200 departments, lots of fashions, activities, and restaurants for all types of visitors.

The department store continued it's success through a merger in the late 1960s with the Dayton Company out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Through the merger J.L. Hudson's was able to expand further into the upper Midwest. As Detroit began to decline and population was on a downturn, the company could not longer sustain itself, ultimately closing the store in January 1983.

Original elevator call button from J.L. Hudson's
Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Hannah Manning
for Materials Unlimited.

The once magnificent building was torn down in 1998, but not before salvagers could rescue a few cherished items from the beloved business, including this brass elevator call button that would have been used on one of the more than 50 elevators in the building.


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