In connection with our exhibition on Lafayette Park, we’ll feature a historic document each week. These newsletters, invitations, and bits of information are courtesy of Betty Brown and the publication "Thanks for the View, Mr. Mies," 2012. If you would like to share ephemera from Lafayette Park, send us a copy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s item is a flyer announcing the “Mies van der Bash,” a gathering to honor Lafayette Park’s 30th anniversary in July of 1989 “in the cul de sac at the end of Nicolet Place.” In this document, residents are described as “risk takers who believed in the future of our downtown.” That downtown, of course, was Detroit. The “risk” was living in the inner city and thereby countering the trend of upper-middle class white people moving to the suburbs. The perceived liability they undertook by choosing to live in Lafayette Park underscores the sort of racism that led to the Detroit Riots in 1967.
Whether Lafayette Park’s residents were risk takers or simply takers (appropriating land thanks to federal legislation designed to reconfigure Detroit demographics), was probably beside the point for those who received this flyer. There was going to be a picnic.
The all-caps document, which looks like it was pounded out on a typewriter, announced admission at $4 per adult and $2 per child, which would be about $7.50 and $3.75 today.
The menu included grilled hot dogs, “home made buns,” cole slaw, baked beans, and macaroni salad, with ice cream bars for desert. The flyer was sure to note “beverages will include several kinds of the more popular soft drinks” (this was likely an important detail considering the cola wars of the 1980s and the racial history tied to the marketing of cola).
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