Check out The Atlantic's photo gallery of 1940s Detroit

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Second Avenue in Detroit in the 1940s - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
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  • Second Avenue in Detroit in the 1940s

Over at the Atlantic today, as part of a series called "In Focus," there's a set of 30 gorgeous photos of Detroit in the 1940s. Writer Alan Taylor sets the scene, describing how the city needed a boatload of new people to work in factories "re-tooled to build war machines." 

[W]omen started taking on men's roles in the workplace, as men shipped overseas to fight in World War II. The need for workers brought an influx of African-Americans to Detroit, who met stiff resistance from whites who refused to welcome them into their neighborhoods or work beside them on an assembly line. A race riot took place over three days in 1943, leaving 34 dead and hundreds injured. After World War II ended, the demand for workers dried up, and Detroit started plotting its postwar course, an era of big automobiles and bigger highways to accommodate them.



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