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Posted on Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Michigan Memories: Images of flooding in Ann Arbor

By Kellie Woodhouse

Students may have tubed down State Street as flooding last week turned downtown Ann Arbor into a chaotic, traffic-filled puddle- but it was far from the first time.

Ann Arbor has seen its fair share of floods. Among the most memorable is the flood of June 1968, which transformed streets into cascading rivers.

That flood was caused by a storm that pummeled Ann Arbor with heavy rainfall, as was the recent June 27 flood — during which Ann Arbor experienced rainfall at more than triple the area's normal rate. collected images from a few of the memorable area floods. Feel free to share your own memories as well.


University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library

Two men paddle through University of Michigan's campus on a canoe after a flood in Ann Arbor in 1910.


Ann Arbor News

A street in downtown Ann Arbor floods in 1968. A hefty 5.28 inches of rain battered the town. The Ann Arbor News reported it was the most severe rainfall in a generation.


Ann Arbor News

Another image from the 1968 flood. Entire dams and areas of railroad track were washed out during the deluge. The Ann Arbor News reported that residents fished in the flooded streets — for their belongings, which had been washed into the street. After the flood waters cleared dozens of dead fish were found on the lawn of Riverside Park.


Ann Arbor News

Allen Creek was certainly never meant to be a river, but that's exactly what it became when heavy rainfall flooded it in 1902. It's pictured here as it crosses Washington Street. Minutes from an Ann Arbor City Council meeting that year said the creek flooding created "general destruction in many parts of the city" and rendered many streets impassable.

The creek was put underground in the 1920s, but it is still at risk for flooding.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Kellie Woodhouse

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

This is an example of why I really appreciate our commenters on With the information several commenters have brought to light it seems entirely possible the first photo is a fake. I found out it is from a "postcard collection" in Bentley. I am going to try to dig a little and confirm whether it is a fake and then I'll put a little update in the article with information.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 4:39 p.m.

Not only is the first picture almost certainly faked (see Concerned Citizen's evidence), but it's actually three men with two canoes.

Jack Gladney

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

I like the bicycle parked at the curbside juxtaposed with the seemingly rather tall hull of the canoe in the first picture. It reminds me of a live shot NBC ran during SUPERSTORM! Sandy. Reporter Michelle Kosynski was reporting perilously from her NBC News StormTracker 4000 Canoe, when two men in t-shirts and shorts unaware of the dramatic reportage occurring there, walked by in front of the camera carrying groceries through the shin-deep storm surge. Back to you in the studio, Matt...


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 4:34 p.m.

That was pretty funny! But it happened seven years before Sandy.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 3:55 p.m.

All these photos must be fake or photoshopped. We should all know by now that because of global warming everything from heat to cold, snow to drought, floods, rain, wind is worse today than at any time in the past. Don't confuse our brains by claiming that things could have been worse in the past. The consensus of scientists clearly show it was never as bad as today. We're doomed!


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 5:33 p.m.

I'm with you. It can't be so, Al Gore hadn't even invented the internet yet, much less invented global warming, no wait, climate change, and cashed in by selling out to oil rich Quatar.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

Great pic, particularly the first one.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

Excellent history pictures! Just goes to show that a lot of rain fall in a day can be a problem. Hopefully we will learn how to re-direct the rain and avoid what Toronto is dealing with now.

Ricardo Queso

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

"Venice on the Huron".Isn't the first photo located in front of the naval engineering lab?

Marc Stephens

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 2:07 p.m.

Looks like the Diag side of the arch to me, yup.

Concerned Citizen

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

As some one else mentioned the first photo is indeed staged or as one might call photochopped these days. may want to come clean and "wash" their hands of this apparent fake. It is a staged postcard by Hubel. You can see another one here that is definitely and clearly not real as the water does not flow above the grass line and of course the original user that posted the image on Flikr states along with the other commenter.

Concerned Citizen

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 10:05 p.m.

It appears so.

Concerned Citizen

Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 3:55 a.m.

Are folks allowed to select usernames that have already been claimed by others on this site?


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 5:25 p.m.

It's certainly faked, and it's an illustration of just how good the pre-digital techniques could be in the right hands.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

Excellent links, Concerned. Indeed a search of Wikipedia's big list of floods shows now floods in Michigan in 1910.–2000 You're probably right, it was an effort to cash in on the Paris flood which was international news.

Concerned Citizen

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

He was a local photographer out of St. Clair Shores that created many other works involving flooded streets around Detroit in 1910 on post cards labeled as the great flood that have all of the same hallmarks as the one posted in this article as well as the same handwriting as "Ann Arbor, Mich" that I pointed out in the previous Flickr link. Here are a set of postcards with members of the Detroit Tigers, including Ty Cobb standing over slightly flooded streets in Detroit.;jsessionid=t5ebd82tl1.camel_s My guess is that the "Great" flood of 1910 was more or less a joke as it truly wasn't that great at all. Or it was in fact making light of the great flood of 1910 in Paris. This is just speculation on my part. However the photo above is not genuine as other readers have already pointed out.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

Who is Hubel?


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

Thanks for sharing these. I was also following the Calgary and Toronto stories -- it's amazing how powerful nature can be.

Dirty Mouth

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:11 p.m.

Nice work.

Frank Lee

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

The description under this story reads "The recent flooding in Ann Arbor brought to mind even worse flooding from the paste". Paste = past.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 9:02 p.m.

Couple of sticky wickets, that.

Kyle Mattson

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

These floods were nothing compared to the great hot glue gun factory incident of 1921 or the rubber cement fiasco of 1893.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

I think it would be more interesting story if the streets were flooded with paste.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

It looks to me that the 1910 photo is a fake or "photo shopped" is todays lexicon.

P. J. Murphy

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:24 p.m.

Agreed. Most noticeable at the end of the tunnel where the water doesn't reflect the dimmer light. Also the edges of the water are remarkably clean, as if cut with a razor. Which is what they probably used I'd guess. Photoshop would not arrive for another 78 years, but it's worth noting that 2 Ann Arborites, Tom and John Knoll, were it's creators.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

I thought the same thing!! I think that is the Engineering arch at the South end of the Diag. Perhaps with the addition of sewers/grading in that area it doesn't get that much standing water in heavy rains today.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 12:16 p.m.

The third photo is the Saline River at Michigan ave.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 6:36 p.m.

Yes it is. Apparently (according to Saline was a suburb of Ann Arbor back in 1968?


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

I'll bet you the second photo is not downtown AA, but rather the Brookside Apartments on Plymouth Road, just west of the Barton Drive light. Back then Plymouth Road was at a much higher elevation (just lowered around 19990-91) and went by the second floor of those apts. You'll notice the first floor apt is flooded in this picture. The babbling brook between the two rows of buildings was encased in a galvanized tube and paved over, but it is still there.

Ann English

Thu, Jul 11, 2013 : 1:12 a.m.

I agree; you can see part of the Arbor Spring Water Company sign in this photo; I remember the business, there between Plymouth Road and Jones Drive, along with the apartments. They would deliver 5-gallon water containers to other businesses for water coolers. A DISTINCT sign, more unique in appearance than the apartments nearby. I last remember visiting those apartments back in the late 1980s.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 11:53 a.m.

So flooding actually happened BEFORE the global warming hysteria?


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

foobar417 You said... "scientists routinely correct for all manner of systemic biases." What I say is global warming alarmist routinely correct their theory to account for what actually happens and them claim that is part of global warming. How much money has Al Gore made off this scheme?


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

Funny jcj's comment gets downdinged while foobar's uninformed comment gets updinged. 'What part of "increasing the frequency of extreme weather events" is unclear?' What increase in extreme weather events? Tornadoes? Read this from the NOAA site: "With increased national Doppler radar coverage, increasing population, and greater attention to tornado reporting, there has been an increase in the number of tornado reports over the past several decades. This can create a misleading appearance of an increasing trend in tornado frequency. To better understand the variability and trend in tornado frequency in the U.S., the total number EF1 and stronger, as well as strong to violent tornadoes (EF3 to EF5 category on the Enhanced Fujita scale) can be analyzed. These are the tornadoes that would have likely been reported even during the decades before Doppler radar use became widespread and practices resulted in increasing tornado reports. The bar charts below indicates there has been little trend in the frequency of the stronger tornadoes over the past 55 years." Hurricanes maybe? This graph is also from the NOAA site: (complete article here: There was a bit of uptick recently but there were much worse decades in the past (most notably 1900-1920 and 1930-1950) which can't be attributed to global warming. Comments like foobar's actually make jcj's original comment all the more appropriate. Foobar mistakenly thinks that today's extreme weather events are some sort of anomaly when in fact they are not... which was the point of jcj's sarcastic comment to begin with.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 5:47 p.m.

FORMER VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE: The storms are getting stronger. The stronger storms are getting more frequent. ... And, you know, that didn't used to happen like this. But the evidence is now so overwhelming. JOE BASTARDI, WEATHERBELL ANALYTICS: That's stunningly ignorant or stunningly deceptive, what Al Gore said. In the 1950s, from 1954 to 1960s, ten major hurricanes ran the Eastern Seaboard, six hit the Carolinas northward in two years, in '54, '55, including Connie and Diane, which caused unbelievable flooding in 1955. Hurricane Carol, 1954, 15 feet of water up Naraganset Bay. The 1938 hurricane, which had 186 mile an hour winds gusts at Blue Hill, Massachusetts, blew down two billion trees, caused a 50-foot surge of water across Long Island. If that storm had been 60 miles further west with the landfall at the battery, there would have been 20 feet of water into New York City. He doesn't know what he's talking about, And, ever since he shot his mouth off about Katrina, we've seen total global tropical activity go to record low levels. Just because something happens in your backyard two years in a row, it has nothing to do with the total picture.... I've been saying for years that we were returning to the cycle of the 1950s, that the Pacific, which by the way is at record-breaking cold levels -- how about them apples? -- the Pacific is cooling, the Atlantic is warming, the Atlantic warm cycle lasts another 10 to 15 years. What aggravates me about these people is Dr. Bill Grey of Colorado State made this prediction in the late '70s, that we were going into this very cycle, people laughed at him, here it comes. The Atlantic is warm, the Pacific is cold, the action shifts to the East Coast of the United States like it did in the 1950s for 10 to 15 years, and then we cool the Atlantic and we go back the other way.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 5:45 p.m.

Amazing how the mush heads take the next in a series of new explanations for the religion of global warming and why "warming" has stopped for 15 years, why the Galciers melted as the earth "warmed" without man's help, why snow and extreme cold is caused by global warming, an it goes on. Hurricane sandy was predicted based on cyclical weather events that but the media and collectivists jump to call it "superstorm" and EX A for "climate change."


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

The effect you are talking about certainly happens with people's perception of the number of child abductions (for example). It is far less likely to happen with scientific records of an extreme event such as a hurricane or tornado, where scientists can go search the local archives and the latency of transmission is irrelevant. That said, what makes you think scientists haven't already correct for this effect? Statistical analysis is a very well-developed method of scientific inquiry and scientists routinely correct for all manner of systemic biases.

Marc Stephens

Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

Any chance that in the centuries leading up to the 20th century weather events were not as easy to document or track? Its like news. In the 1800's someone in Paw Paw MI might not hear of an event in Dallas TX for months or maybe not ever. Now they know EVEN before Mlive!


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

Yes, so clearly that proves there's no such thing as climate change. What part of "increasing the frequency of extreme weather events" is unclear?


Wed, Jul 10, 2013 : 11:44 a.m.

That is just too cool. Thanks for the photo's