Some significant events occurred Downriver during the 1950s:





  • The first announcements of a second Downriver freeway were made regarding the proposed Seaway Freeway, to head in a north/south direction from Detroit to Toledo.  Preliminary plans were extremely rough as no direct route was favored.  Initial public reaction was largely negative to the entire project.


  • The final Downriver drive-in goes into business as the Jolly Roger.  Located on Van Born Road just west of Telegraph, its first screening would take place on September 15.




  • The Village of Allen Park becomes the City of Allen Park on its third attempt.  Previous voter referendums in 1953 and 1955 had gone down to defeat.
  • Sears Plaza, Dix Highway and Southfield Road in Lincoln Park, opens for business.  It is Sears' second location Downriver, joining its partnering building in downtown Wyandotte.  Attached to the Lincoln Park structure is a strip mall with room for 36 smaller stores.
  • Detroit-Wayne Major Airport secured the services of American Airlines as the first passenger-based airline at the facility, relocating from Willow Run Airport.  Within the next two years, a total of five major airlines would do the same.
  • The last recorded liquor still in the Wyandotte area, dating back to the era of Prohibition, was demolished by local and federal agents.  It had been located at 1214 10th Street.  Despite this being the end of a black era, this particular location was lauded by the quality of the brew it generated.


  • The Southgate Shopping Center opens with great fanfare in the spring of 1958.  It would become Downriver's premier shopping plaza until the opening of Southland Center twelve years later.
  • Southgate becomes a city in October, as Ecorse Township ceases to exist after 131 years. 
  • The Leroy C. Smith Terminal opens at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, the first building specifically tailored for air passenger travel.
  • The Fort-Grove Shopping Center serves it's first customers.


  • The famed Detroit Dragway began operations on June 25, 1959.  The track which would provide many a radio commercial intoning "Sunday!  Sunday!  Sunday!" would stay in business for the next 39 years.
  • Melvindale celebrated a milestone thirty years in the making as the city was finally able to retire its debt, which had incurred due to overestimating residential needs when first building up in the 1920s.
  • Riverview became the first city to spring from Brownstown Township.
  • The J.L. Hudson company makes its Downriver debut at the Lincoln Park Plaza, replacing People's Outfitters.