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Frontier Metropolis

Picturing Early Detroit, 1701-1838

Brian Leigh Dunnigan

Award Winner

Detroit, History

Great Lakes Books Series

Hardback
Published: April 2001
ISBN: 9780814327678
Pages: 256 Size: 18x13
Illustrations: 260
Published: April 2001
ISBN: 9780814330111
Pages: 256 Size: 18x13
Illustrations: 260
Review

It is hard to imagine anyone who loves books describing this beautiful volume as anything less than a treasure. In particular, those readers with an interest in maps or the Great Lakes region in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, let alone Detroit, will find it irresistible.

— The Michigan Historical Review

Despite its inland location, Detroit's origins as a French outpost make it older than many other cities of the eastern United States. Frontier Metropolis illustrates and describes all known images of Detroit in the pre-photographic era to provide a nearly complete visual chronology made by people who knew the city.

Brian Leigh Dunnigan has arranged these maps, plans, and views to show the evolution of Detroit and its community life over its first 137 years. Chapter introductions review issues faced by Detroit residents during the years covered, while text accompanying the images places them in their historical context and adds the descriptive words of people from the past. No other book so vividly depicts Detroit's growth from struggling agricultural community and trading post to industrial giant.

Presented in a handsome, large-format design and illustrated in full color, Frontier Metropolis is a unique and captivating look at the city's rich and diverse heritage.

Brian Leigh Dunnigan is curator of maps at the William L. Clements Library of the University of Michigan.

Brian Dunnigan's Frontier Metropolis: Picturing Early Detroit is both a sophisticated study of the Detroit River region between the founding of the French settlement in 1701 and the beginning of the photographic era in 1838 and an outstanding example of just how effectively images can be used in the historical venture. Frontier Metropolis is the product of Brian Dunnigan's thorough search through North American and European collections to find maps and pictures that he then subjected to careful scrutiny within the context of his enviable knowledge of Great Lakes colonial history.

– Ontario History

This is a city most of us know little about, and which we have never seen illustrated, at least not like this. Dunnigan, curator of maps at the William L. Clements library at the University of Michigan, spent five years on this project. What he has produced is anything but another history of early Detroit-though it is a superbly well-written one. The core of this book is a rich, unique and virtually complete visual record of Detroit before the age of photography.-

– The Oakland Press

It is hard to imagine anyone who loves books describing this beautiful volume as anything less than a treasure. In particular, those readers with an interest in maps or the Great Lakes region in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, let alone Detroit, will find it irresistible.

– The Michigan Historical Review

This is the magnum opus of Detroit's anniversary year... The book is a work of art and a scholar's delight... a must for anyone interested in Detroit history.

– Bill McGraw, Detroit Free Press

It's a really nice book on Detroit that people seem to overlook. It weighs 9 pounds and has 250 pages of reprinted old maps, portraits of founders of the city and stunning historical writing. It's an organic, wonderful picture book-bigger than most and nicer than most art books. The reproductions are really nice and crisp, and it has material that you're never going to see again."

– Metrotimes

These pictures and maps are tantalizing windows into the past of this colonial metropolis during its French, British, and early American periods. Frontier Metropolis illustrates and describes all known images of Detroit from its founding in 1707 until 1838 to provide a nearly complete visual chronology made by people who knew the city. Presented in a handsome, large-format design, illustrated in full color, Frontier Metropolis is a unique and captivating look at the city's rich and colorful heritage.

– Michigan Social Studies Journal

Dunnigan's scholarsip is impeccable. He knows the source literature comprehensively, and describes both topography and biography vividly.... The portrait of the 'Motor City' in adolescence becomes fresh and authoratative in Dunnigan's lively telling...

– Nicholas Westbrook, Executive Director, Fort Ticonderog<br mce_bogus="1">

  • 2001 Michigan Notable Book Awards - Result: 1 of 20 selected annually
  • 2001 State History Award - Result: Winner in the category of Publications: Books: University & Commercial
  • 2001 State History Award - Result: Winner in the category of Publications: Books: University & Commercial
  • 2001 Michigan Notable Book Awards - Result: 1 of 20 selected annually