J.L. Hudson Co.

Oakland Mall to get Hudson’s WWII veterans plaque

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Read the complete Detroit Free Press article 

Oakland Mall will be the new home of a plaque honoring employees of the former J.L. Hudson Co. who served in the military during World War II.

The silver-toned plaque, which moved from the old downtown Detroit Hudson’s to Northland Center mall, will be relocated this spring to the Macy’s store at Oakland Mall.

The plaque lists the 1,146 “Hudsonians” who served during the war; the 31 men who didn’t return home have a star beside their names.

The marker was erected in 1947 on a wall near the first-floor escalators inside the downtown Detroit Hudson’s. It was placed in storage after the 25-story department store closed in 1983; it was rededicated at the Northland Hudson’s (now the Macy’s) in 1993.

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The rise and fall of Hudson’s Big Store in Detroit (with video)

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Originally published by the Detroit Free Press

The building was 2,124,316 square feet, making it second in size among department stores to only Macy’s in New York. The store was spread out over 32 floors, and at 410 feet, Hudson’s was the tallest department store in the world. Hudson’s featured more than 200 departments across an incredible 49 acres of floor space, and it featured about 600,000 items from 16,000 vendors. Twelve thousand employees, 100,000 customers came each day at its peak. In 1954, Hudson’s had sales of more than $163 million (an astronomical $1.28 billion today, when adjusted for inflation) …

… In 1891, [Joseph Lowthian] Hudson moved his store [located on the ground floor of the old Detroit Opera House on Campus Martius] to Gratiot and Farmer. But this wasn’t the building generations of Detroiters knew and loved. That building was a patchwork of several buildings tacked one onto another as the store grew from 1911 to 1946. The 1891 store, along with a 1907 addition, was demolished in the ’20s …

… Starting in the 1950s, Detroit’s population continued to shrink with the growth of the suburbs and creation of the freeway system. And with the rise of the suburbs came the rise of shopping malls, which siphoned off shoppers. Hudson’s was one of the biggest reasons for this, being a driving force behind Northland Mall, and opening a number of similar locations in other malls.

The chain closed its downtown store Jan. 17, 1983, after more than 90 years of business. The company’s corporate offices remained in the Big Store, and about 1,200 people still worked there. That is, until 1990, when the building was sold to a Windsor company. This is when the big beloved landmark started to become one big eyesore, more noteworthy for its broken windows and trespassers than its big sales and Santa …

…Despite several pitches to redevelop the enormous structure, the building was imploded at 5:45 p.m. (the store’s closing time) on Oct. 24, 1998, at a cost of about $12 million. In less than a minute, generations of Detroit memories laid in a 60-foot-high pile of rubble, some 660 million pounds of it.

Read the July 5, 1982 Free Press article on the closing of Hudson’s “the passing of an era.”

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Macy’s to save forgotten WWII plaque for Hudson’s vets

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Originally published by the Detroit Free Press

It was September 1947 when the J. L. Hudson Co. erected a large silver-toned plaque to honor its employees — its “Hudsonians” — who served their country in the military during World War II.

The plaque lists 1,146 names, including the 31 men who never returned home. It was mounted on a wall near the first-floor escalators inside the downtown Detroit Hudson’s — then the second-largest department store in the world.

The heavy memorial was put in storage after Hudson’s closed its Detroit store in 1983, and a decade later, was relocated to what is now the Macy’s at Northland Center mall.

Macy’s says it will relocate the plaque to another store when its Northland store closes in the coming months.
Read more about this important relic from Detroit’s history.

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