Berkley Historical Museum features 100 of its favorite photos

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published August 17, 2016

Photo provided by the Berkley Historical Museum


BERKLEY — The Berkley Historical Museum currently is featuring 100 of its favorite photos that capture the evolution of the city over the years, going as far back as 1902.

The collection of photos can be found at the museum, which resides at 3338 Coolidge Highway, right by City Hall in the former firehouse.

Chosen from the thousands of photos the museum has collected over the years, some of the featured photos include a once-empty 12 Mile Road and a photo of what downtown Berkley looked like in 1948.

The Berkley Historical Committee first was formed as part of the nation’s bicentennial in 1976, and sometime after began asking people for old photos of the city, said museum Vice Chairman Jeffrey Tong.

“People just put the word out, ‘We would like photos or anything about Berkley history,’ and people started bringing things in,” he said.
Mayor Pro Tem Steve Baker, who previously served on the Historical Committee, said preserving and promoting the city’s history is important.

“By receiving and preserving these artifacts, it helps ensure that future generations can enjoy all that the city has been and look forward to all that the city will be,” he said.

“It’s tremendous to see the progression and growth over time. Looking back at the historical photos helps remind us of where we’ve been and the type of delightful community we’ve become,” he said.

A photo that captures some of the growth Baker referred to is of the southwest corner of Woodward Avenue and 12 Mile Road in 1929. The only things in the area were an early gas station, the Shilling farmhouse, two sets of tracks and unpaved road.

“Berkley is very fortunate to share Woodward Avenue as one of its many assets,” Baker said. “There’s a total of 11 communities that can claim part of Woodward Avenue, and we’re really glad to be a part of that history and the symbolism that that brings to not only the region, but across the county and the world.”

Tong said that, especially at the age of 73, he can get a sense of how things have turned over in the city during the years by looking at these photos.

“So much of this to me is nostalgic,” he said.

One photo Tong was fond of is taken near where the museum stands and features a giant list of all the men from Berkley fighting in World War II at the time.

“We love it especially when the young kids come in, and you can learn so much about world history just from Berkley,” he said.

“Every kid your age is in Europe or in Asia fighting, and many of them not even coming back,” he said. “You can tie almost anything like that into ‘what happens in Berkley represented what happened in the world,’ and it’s important not to forget.”

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays, and from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sundays, but it can be opened on certain days if someone calls Tong ahead of time at (248) 398-2382.