The ELD group is developing a digital portal that will inform students, scholars and community members about the cultural, linguistics, and historical background of different landmarks in Detroit. Through the pairing of digital technologies and archival resources, we have developed a rich collection of digital stories tracing the roots and following the routes of local ethnic groups. Since the pilot phases of the project in 2013 ELD has identified a variety of sites in Detroit and engaged in narrating their stories through archived and current, pictures, sound, and movies. About 25 digital stories are being developed showcasing the cultural histories of different ethnic groups that built the city of Detroit. Through such storytelling we hope to engage our audiences with the colorful, dynamic and often forgotten and untold history of Detroit.

This digital portal will use augmented reality technology that allows users to interact with points of interest within a real-world environment via images, audio, and video displayed on a screen. For instance, users could hold up a tablet or smartphone at a historical landmark, monument, or building in Detroit and see a historical image of the building superimposed on their view of the building in real time.

Although most ELD stories are currently being created by ELD members, students and volunteers have also made important contributions to the project, and we hope for more student and community involvement in the project as we grow. If you are interested in participating in this project, learn how you can volunteer!

Watch ELD digital stories and learn about the colorful and dynamic history of Detroit!

Digital stories are accompanied by a video, a video transcript, a longer narrative, site location, and images.


1943 Riots

The Power of a Detroit Rumor: The Belle Isle Bridge Incident and the 1943 Riots

Storyteller: Julie Koehler
Keywords: Riots, Segregation, 1943, Race, White, African-American


A Russian Bathhouse in Detroit

The story of Detroit's Schvitz Health Club

Storyteller: Laura Kline
Keywords: Schvitz, Banya, Oakland Health Club, Russian, Jewish, Polish


Ambassador Bridge and Ralph Modjeski

Ralph Modjeski’s contributions to the field of engineering and bridge building

Storyteller: Alina Klin
Keywords: Ralph Modjeski, Bridge, Engineering, Helena Modjeska, Poland, POLISH.

Anthony Wayne: Wayne State's Namesake and Batman's Ancestor

Anthony Wayne Connection to Detroit and Michigan

Storyteller: Julie Koehler
Keywords: Wayne, WSU, Batman, Revolutionary War, Detroit, IRISH.


Arbeiter Hall

The Leland building now contains lofts, but it was once a school for disabled children near Black Bottom. 

Storyteller: Felecia Lucht
Keywords: GERMAN


Brewster-Douglass Homes

First federally-funded housing project for the African American community in the United States. It was demolished in 2014.

Storyteller: Krysta Ryzewski
Keywords: African-Americans, neighborhood, housing project, innovation, ruin.


Cass Tech & Polish American Musicians

History of Cass Tech, Polish-American musicians

Storyteller: Alina Klin
Keywords: Cass Tech, Detroit, Music, Polish-American Musicians, Ted Gomulka, Stas Wisniach, Club Alicia, Decca, POLISH


Charles Lindbergh Birthhouse

Charles Lindbergh’s connection to Detroit

Storyteller: Julie Koehler
Keywords: Lindbergh, Detroit, Aviation, Cass Tech, SWEDISH



Traces of Detroit's past Chinatowns

Storyteller: Krysta Ryzewski
Keywords: Chinese-Americans, Chinatown, Vincent Chin, Chung's, CHINESE.


Cigar Strikes

Strikes by the Polish women in the Detroit cigar factories

Storyteller: Alina Klin



The story of Detroit's legendary soda pop, Faygo

Storyteller: Laura Kline
Keywords: Feigenson, Faygo, pop, Russian Empire, Russian Jews


From Detroit to Siberia...and Back: The Story of Victor Herman

A Detroit man who survived the Gulag

Storyteller: Laura Kline
Keywords: Victor Herman, Coming out of the Ice, Soviet Union, Ford, Gulag, Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, Jewish, Soviet



From the Snows of Siberia to Belle Isle: Detroit's Own Polar Bears

The story of the Detroit's part in the US Intervention in the Russian Civil War

Storyteller: Laura Kline
Keywords: Polar Bears, WWI, Archangel, Russia, Michigan Central Station, Belle Isle, Russian Civil War


General Kosciuszko Monument

Importance of Kosciuszko in the US and Polish histories

Storyteller: Alina Klin
Keywords: Thaddeus Kosciuszko, Revolutionary War, Poland, Kraków, Saratoga, West Point, Dresden, POLISH.


Germantown and Greektown

Overlapping, fluid boundaries encompass two historical immigrant settlements in downtown Detroit, Germantown and Greektown, each with their own histories and community institutions.    

Storyteller: Felecia Lucht and Julie Koehler
Keywords: Polar Bears, WWI, Archangel, Russia, Michigan Central Station, Belle Isle, Russian Civil War


Harmonie Hall

This historic German-American signing club building was once the hub of Germantown, but today it is a center for African-American culture.

Storyteller: Felecia Lucht
Keywords: GERMAN


Little Harry's Speakeasy

A prohibition-era Speakeasy and Purple Gang hangout called Little Harry's. Located under present-day Tommy's Bar.

Storyteller: Krysta Ryzewski
Keywords: Tommy's Bar, Purple Gang, Speakeasy archeology,Crime, POLISH, JEWISH, RUSSIAN, ITALIAN.


Little Sisters Home for the Poor

French-Catholic home for the aged poor

Storyteller: Jessica Robbins-Ruzkowski and Krysta Ryzewski


Nain Rouge

The history of Detroit's infamous omen, the red dwarf.

Storyteller: Julie Koehler
Keywords: FRENCH, Detroit, Belle Isle, folklore, Nain Rouge, Native-American, great fire


Polish American Night at Comerica Park

There’s one night at Comerica Park when everyone is Polish!

Storyteller: Alina Klin
Keywords: Tigers, Comerica Stadium, Leon Zarski, Ted Kluszewski, Frank Tanana, Stan Musial, Polish-American National Hall of Fame, polka music, Cardinals, POLISH


Polish Pride of Historic Campus Martius

Story of the Old Opera House and the actress Helena Modjeska

Storyteller: Alina Klin
Keywords: Helena Modjeska, Ralph Modjeski, Rakowice, St. Albertus Church, Shakespeare, Knaip Cure, Polish



A Russian puppet theater in Detroit

Storyteller: Laura Kline
Keywords: Puppets, Theaters, Russia, Russian.


Roosevelt Park

A lost Corktown neighborhood buried underneath Roosevelt Park. The site of ongoing excavations by Wayne State University archaeologists.

Storyteller: Krysta Ryzewski.
Keywords: Archeology, Corktown, Neighbourhood, Immigrants, 19th-century, Michigan Central Depot, IRISH, CANADIAN, RUSSIAN, ITALIAN, BELGIAN.


Russian Bear Restaurant

Comerica Park is hiding the history of a Russian restaurant and club, but the building still exists just a few blocks away. 

Storyteller: Laura Kline
Keywords: Gem Theater, Century Club, Russian Bear Inn, Jeromsky, Poznanski, Balalaika Quintet, Russian




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