Saturday, April 13, 2013

Flint Photos: Van Slyke and 12th in the Seventies


30 comments:

  1. Turn Left, cross the tracks, and immediately on your left is Mark's Lounge....so eloquently portrayed in Ben Maper's Rivethead.

    Mark's is now just a slab of concrete.

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    1. My husband was a friend of the owners of Mark's Lounge. We went there in Nov. of 1971 after our wedding and they gave us a bottle of champane.




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    2. Patrick;that was Ben Hamper who made "Mark's" famous,not Ben Maper. You're forgiven. A great shot at a time when Flint was absolutely booming. I was a Buick employee then,and it was just as crazy around there at shift change time. So sad to see what's become of the AC,Buick and Chevrolet complexes now.

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  2. My first reaction to this photo was how in the world did they get the elevated view? The second was "look at all of those GM jobs". The place used to be pure gridlock at times. Throw in a couple of trains and the only thing to do was go into Mark's Bar and have a couple of cold ones!

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    1. I seem to remember an elevated billboard somewhere in this area. Could it have been here, upon which the photographer could have gotten his vantage point?

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    2. There is an elevated billboard at the southwest corner of this intersection, "kitty corner" from the photographer's location, and on the south/opposite side of the Grand Trunk Railroad tracks. The billboard had not yet been erected at the time of this photo.

      You can Google "12th Street & Van Slyke Road Flint MI" and then click on the Google map which should be first in the search results. Once there you should see a street view image on the left with the billboard in the view. You click on the street view image to further negotiate around this location. The street view images are from June 2009.

      There are no signs at the photographer's location, nor to my recollection have there ever been any signs directly where the photo was taken. There is also not enough room between Twelfth and I-69 for a billboard. However, I am convinced that the photographer used a cherry picker, that was temporarily positioned at this location.

      Mark

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  3. What with 12th St., I-69, RR, and Swartz Creek that was a corridor of industry, wealth, and employment that pointed too an oddly beautiful horizon of promise... wait... whhhhaaaatttttt????


    man... that is one ominous ditch...

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  4. I always thought that I-69 was put there to keep me from easily walking from Westgate to Woodcroft Estates before I could drive. Gotta keep the riff raff kids out, I guess.

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  5. A daily familiar sight for me at one time.Helped to put together 1961 Chevrolets at the assembly plant. Then coming home the same route from Otterbourn after a days work at Chev. Nat'l Parts,to get to Atherton Rd. Then again from, Chevy in the hole by way of Miller Rd., but that was an earlier time.

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  6. That looks freshly paved. Having grown up near that crossing I remember how ingrained in our subconscious it was to avoid that area around 5pm.

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  7. The elevated viewpoint in this photo was probably attained in a cherry picker that was used to hang the traffic lights and nearby overhead signs. The enterprising photographer probably convinced the construction workers to briefly move the cherry picker to this location so that he could get the unique perspective.

    It is clear that I-69 is brand new in this photo. The construction of the I-69 expressway necessitated the reconstruction and relocation of the road linking Ballenger Highway and Twelfth Street. The road was also widened from 2 to 4 lanes at that time. The brand new state of both the I-69 surface and the Twelfth Street curbs are the best evidence that this section of Twelfth had just been reconstructed rather than repaved. I-69 and those curbs have never looked so good since. Also in the distance, where the Twelfth Street surface changes to concrete at the Flint City/Township line, you can see that the concrete is only 2 lanes and still under construction. The Township portion of the reconstruction was a bit behind the city's reconstruction effort.

    At one time this section of Twelfth was known as Torrey Road, and it originally connected to the Torrey Road next to Bishop Airport. But that connection was severed in the original construction of the US-23 expressway (later designated I-75). If I recall correctly, the Torrey Road name was finally dropped from this section of highway at the time of the reconstruction seen in this photo.

    Mark

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    1. That was Rablee Road. If you look at Google Maps a section still exists north of 69 in Swartz Creek Golf Course. A drive was constructed which connected to the portion of Rablee. A few houses still existed on Rablee after the construction of 69. Were they within the city limits or not. Either way, a mysterious enclave.

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    2. I can also remember that view when it was just two gravel roads, one heading south{Torrey} and one heading west(Rablee} at that intersection. No cement , no buildings just fields with pheasants all the way to Bristol RD. The Grand Trunk line was the obstacle to deal with since the eighteen hundreds probably. My dad said he remembered when the Rablee farm was tied into rural electrification back in the early days and it was an old farmstead back then. I think he knew the owner because he let him hunt on the property.

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    3. Thanks Jose. Are you descended from Nathan J Rablee, 1810-1886, the farmer for whom Rablee Road was named? I noticed Nathan was mentioned in the comments of "The Rock" discussion on this Blog:
      http://www.flintexpats.com/2010/01/flint-photos-block.html

      Maybe you could help to explain exactly where Rablee Road started and ended, And out of curiosity where was Nathan Rablee's farm? I noticed that Nathan Rablee and many of his relatives/ descendants are buried in the Bristol cemetery (near the corner of Bristol and Torrey Roads):
      http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gsr&GSln=Rablee

      I traveled that old remnant road (now isolated north of I-69) hundreds of times before it was severed from the remainder of Ballenger / Rablee / Torrey / 12th. I always thought that it was called Torrey Rd, which was named for Jesse Torrey who owned a farm along this stretch of road. Perhaps the road name changed over time as the roads were realigned and/or as the family farms changed hands.

      In the early 1960s I recall an old map that my parents had. This map was made shortly after the US-23 expressway construction which severed the two portions of Torrey Road. I believe it showed the section of Ballenger Hwy south of Miller Road as Rablee Rd (but perhaps my memory is wrong). And then somewhere south of the bridge over Swartz Creek the name of the road changed to Torrey Road. That name change seems to be explained by the 1920 era USGS quadrangle maps. The University of Texas website has those maps online where they can be viewed/downloaded as jpegs:
      http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/michigan/

      The SW corner of the Flint quadrangle has most of Flint (north of approximately Corunna Rd and Lippincott Blvd). The extreme south side of Flint is in the NW corner of Holly quadrangle:
      http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/michigan/txu-pclmaps-topo-mi-holly-1920.jpg

      The Holly quad shows Torrey Road north of Bristol crossing the Grand Trunk RR, veering NE, intersecting the southern end of Ballenger (which I thought was Rablee Rd), and becoming that remnant road (now isolated north of I-69). My understanding is that the houses on that section of road were called the Torrey settlement. This included the Torrey Schoolhouse, which was built on land owned by Jesse Torrey. This is briefly described at the bottom of Flint Township history page:
      http://flinttownship.org/TownshipInformation/History.aspx
      Eventually that road crossed back over the Grand Trunk RR and met Van Slyke Rd directly at Atherton Rd.

      At some point after 1920 this section of Torrey / Rablee was realigned, staying on the north side of the Grand Trunk to join 12th Street rather than Atherton Rd.

      Mark

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    4. Thanks for the links. These are *great* historical maps.

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    5. ¡Si senor! It is a safe bet to say that many of us are descended from good ol' Nate if you catch my drift.

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  8. Claude Ave. was another street which was divided by the Fenton Clio Expressway. There was a piece off Ballenger/Torrey/Rablee/12th and one off Miller Rd. There was a marriage between a Rablee and a Ketzler shown in some historical document I saw. I have been told that the Ketzlers are related or intermarried with virtually all the Florists in Michigan.

    I think there was quite a network of roads in Swartz Creek Golf Course at one time. I-69 really separated the city around there with large distances with no through roads. The original plan was to extend Hammerberg Rd. under the Railroad, extending it from Atherton Rd. to Torrey Rd./12th St. The drainage and pumping station under The Block complicated that because the road bed was lowered so much. There was also a plan to extend Hammerberg Rd. from Greenbrook Lane to Hemphill Rd., which would have made Hammerberg Rd. more or less continuous from Miller Rd. to Bristol Rd. They closed the right of way behind Lynbrook Dr. and Huckleberry Lane, which further truncated the plan. Hammerberg Rd. could have taken a lot of the pressure off that area around 12th St. and VanSlyke. I remember frequently going over to Fenton Rd. to avoid that intersection. I stopped when youths started throwing chunks of concrete off the GFRR Overpass. Some people died as a result further down toward Grand Traverse.

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  9. So when did Swartz Creek Golf course come about? I remember riding with my dad in his 1952 chevy into that area and seeing a decorative bridge (to nowhere),complete with lamp posts and cement post guard rails. Nearby was the remains of an outdoor swimming pool,circular and also made of cement. I believe my dad said it was filled by water from Swartz Creek. Even back then it looked like it hadn't been used in a very long time.

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    1. Swartz Creek Golf Course opened in 1923. Not sure what the "cement" pool was really used for. I grew up on the golf course as my father was the manager for about 10 years from 1954 to 1964. He turned the cement pool/pond into a wonderful ice skating rink in the winter and myself and my brothers and all of our friends had a blast skating and sledding there. Even when we moved there in 1954 the pool had sat dormant for many years.
      I remember when I-69 was being built and they had to turn the golf course from 27 holes to 18 and re-arrange some of the holes. Good memories!!!!!

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  10. Torrey Hammerberg XIIApril 22, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    There was a school there near where Torrey and VanSlyke came together, and Gibson Drain/Carman Creek flows into Swartz Creek. I remember seeing the old bridge and pool as late as the mid 1970s. It was built of unadorned cement. The bridge is where the Woodcroft Estates students crossed over to get to the school one would imagine. Not sure when that school was removed.

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  11. Torrey Hammerberg XIIApril 22, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    Also look at the city limits on the Holly Quadrangle Map. They show as going down to Bristol Rd. from Van Slyke to Dort Hwy. I remember looking at the Holly Quad in the library back in the 1970s and wondering about it. Is it a mistake, or was there some major conflict with the Carman and Ainsworth family that made them pull it back to Hemphill Rd.? The city limits remained the same from 1920 to 1960 according to sources I have seen.

    Remember also that Carman School became Mandeville High School, where Google Founder Larry Page's father was Valedictorian in the 1950s, and is now the main campus of Baker College.

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  12. Torrey Hammerberg XIIApril 22, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Unclebuck, it looks like Hargott goes all the way to Markham, and Pinehurst goes all the way to Fenton Rd.

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    1. When I was a kid, if you rode your bike south down Hargott you would run directly into a house at the end of Huron St. That was the end of that cinder path that Mr. Morley used to get to his south fields. Also Pinehurst never intersected Fenton Rd. It stopped at Irving Ct. which was a two block long lane
      between Ingleside and Markham Ave. It paralleled Fenton. I peddled a newspaper in that area called The Flint News Advertiser. Probably forgotten by now. I was a caddy at Swartz Creek Golf Course when the management didn't allow it. I free-lanced for tips when I was about thirteen. I had to catch the golfers on the first tee to solicit my services, A half a buck for nine holes and a sore back, but it was worth it. I washed the balls that I found in that old swimming pool you mentioned. It was pretty rank water. That was sixty five years ago.

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  13. God , I love this stuff! Thanks for the forum Gordon. To think it all started with a picture of 12th and Van Slyke. History!

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    1. When you guys get rolling on this stuff, I just sit back in awe and observe. If this were about an intersection in Civic Park, I might be able to participate, but I'm out of my league on this one.

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  14. I worked there starting in the 70's. I see it and I feel like I am choking, I can still smell it and it makes me sick.

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  15. My grandfather lived on Moulton Drive. Timed the trips to his house around the shift changes. Yep I knew this intersection well. It's funny, or maybe just odd how these images are like old friends that you haven't seen for a long time. Within a few seconds of seeing them, you can pick up right where you left off the last time. Thanks for sharing.

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  16. I grew up on Knapp Ave. back in the 60's and 70's...before the expressway went in, just east of Hammerberg Rd, there was a nice little pond. Swartz Creek ran in it's natural path through there also (it is now straightened out and runs in a culvert just north of the E-way and the old Southwestern High School). We used to bike and hike to the pond and catch turtles and "pollywogs"; also fish from Swartz Creek. We were really sad to see the E-way go through there and change everything. We would go along the road grade after the workers left and uproot and scatter their survey markers...just a little helpless gesture of protest from some kids, I guess. We also had many adventures at the Swartz Creek golf course, which sits just north of the expressway. Lots of wooded areas which were great for campouts, campfires, and plinking with BB guns...Great times, long gone...

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  17. I also grew up on Knapp Ave. in the 40's and 50's down near Court Street. Used to go to the Swartz Creek GC hunt for golf balls to sell. Also used to push a lawn mower from my house to those nice houses that were just north of the golf course to mow lawns for .30 to .50 cents. Didn't get rich. Left there in 52 came back in 59 to go to college and left in 63. Remember the west side of town vividly. Been back 15-25 times in the last 25 years but saddened by what I see.

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  18. My father worked in the "hole" for 44 years as a Machine Repair Leader. He used to walk from our house on Knapp Ave.to there year around, winter-summer. He retired in 1970. My brother worked at Frame and Stamping as a Forman on Bristol Rd for 33 years and left in 1986. My sister worked at AC for 13 years until her death in 1964. I escaped to California.

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