History – Daily Detroit http://www.dailydetroit.com What To Know And Where To Go In Metro Detroit Fri, 16 Feb 2018 12:04:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 Life At The Historic Grande Ballroom? Supporters Are Fundraising For A Structural Engineering Report http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/11/19/life-historic-grande-ballroom-supporters-fundraising-structural-engineering-report/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/11/19/life-historic-grande-ballroom-supporters-fundraising-structural-engineering-report/#respond Sun, 19 Nov 2017 05:31:06 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=39676 The Grande Ballroom is one of the most hallowed spaces in Detroit music history. It has been home to jazz, big band, rock. It was a center of Detroit’s counterculture movement.

It also is a gem of a building designed by Charles Agree and completed in 1928. He left his mark on a variety of structures around town like the Vanity Ballroom, the Whittier Hotel and others.

But what will be next for the place that’s seen a couple lives and been sitting closed since 1972?

It’s currently owned by the Chapel Hill Missionary Baptist Church, and the building is being hugged by a dedicated group of volunteers that are now raising money to get the ball rolling on turning the corner for the place.

A GoFundMe has been started by Leo Early, a passionate advocate for the place, in conjunction with the Friends of the Grande Ballroom and the church that owns the structure to see what needs to be done.

Per the fundraiser page:

Donations will go towards the engineer’s fee and any  inspection costs to include construction/carpentry and equipment rentals. This report will be used to make a decision for launching a 501-(c)3 non-profit organization, aid in determining a business case and to calculate the extent of work necessary to stabilize the structure.  Assuming positive viability can be determined, any balance will go towards startup costs and a much larger construction fund raising campaign. Exercising this due diligence will benefit the church in pursuing grants and additional funding. As the building has a perforated roof, time is of the essence and we hope to have the inspection complete as soon as possible, weather permitting. Our latest potential inspection date is December 15.

As of this writing, they’re raised $3,045 of their $5,000 goal. There are also a variety of rewards ranging from a lapel pin to a blueprint to a custom dinner tour. If you’re interested, visit the fundraiser by clicking here. 

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LISTEN: Talking The Witch Of Delray, Detroit Murder Mysteries And History With Author Karen Dybis http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/10/18/listen-talking-witch-delray-detroit-murder-mysteries-history-author-karen-dybis/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/10/18/listen-talking-witch-delray-detroit-murder-mysteries-history-author-karen-dybis/#respond Wed, 18 Oct 2017 06:20:34 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=39011

Today, we step back to Detroit in the 1930s at a bar that was open (well, as an ice cream shop during the prohibition part) to talk to Karen Dybis.

She’s an author of a few books, but her latest promises from what we’ve seen to be a great read. “The Witch of Delray: Rose Veres & Detroit’s Infamous 1930s Murder Mystery” is a true crime book that’s set in Detroit’s Delray neighborhood.

Dybis is a former newspaper reporter, and utilized that background as well as her colorful style paint a picture of a city and a boarding house where, as she says, renters walk in and pine boxes come out.

So join Sven Gustafson for a great conversation on the back patio of Nancy Whiskey’s.

To pre-order the book that comes out October 30 from The History Press on Amazon, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Witch-Delray-Detroits-Infamous-Mystery/dp/1467137545 or support your local independent book store.

Thanks to Podcast Detroit for their support of the Daily Detroit Happy Hour: http://www.podcastdetroit.com

Also, if you want to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, you can do so here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-daily-detroit-happy-hour/id1168444594?mt=2

Use Android? We’re on Google Play Music, too: https://playmusic.app.goo.gl/?ibi=com.google.PlayMusic&isi=691797987&ius=googleplaymusic&link=https://play.google.com/music/m/Iwc3prrpluduhfvsclhcl4inhtu?t%3DThe_Daily_Detroit_Happy_Hour%26pcampaignid%3DMKT-na-all-co-pr-mu-pod-16

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The Best Mayor In Detroit’s History And “Idol of the People” Deserves More Recognition http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/09/15/hazen-pingree/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/09/15/hazen-pingree/#respond Fri, 15 Sep 2017 17:31:29 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=38404 The city of Detroit is rife with nods and tributes to ghosts of its past, legendary and sometimes infamous individuals who have helped shape the city for hundreds of years. Names like Woodward, Lodge, Fisher, and Cass are so synonymous with the thoroughfares and buildings they represent that many people don’t even associate the names with the actual individuals they represent.

However, one name that doesn’t appear on any major road signs or building facades is that of a man who may be the greatest and most influential political figure in the city’s history.

In fact, Hazen S. Pingree was once ranked the four best Mayor in American History by a collection of scholars however the only major public recognition of him is a commanding statue that sits in Grand Circus Park and gazes proudly yet discerningly down Woodward Avenue.

A true “Idol of the People” (as the statues inscription reads) Hazen ran on the campaign slogan “Equal Rights to All, Special Privileges to None” and throughout his time as Mayor he embodied that mantra.

What interests and impresses me most about Hazen Pingree is how relevant his work and beliefs are in today’s political and social climate and so I’ve decided to share some of my favorite nuggets of Pingree lore in the hopes that you will be inspired to do your own digging at places like the Detroit Historical Museum and Detroit Public Library to learn more about Hazen and some of his peers and predecessors.

Hazen the Urban Farming Pioneer

Perhaps the most well known aspect of Mayor Pingree’s time in office was his encouragement and advocacy for farming within the city of Detroit. When the Panic of 1893 struck he opened up tracts of land to the public, including the poor, and encouraged them to use the land for farming and harvesting their own food. This initiative earned him perhaps his most endearing nickname; Potato Patch Pingree.

Hazen the Entrepreneur

An advertisement for Pingree & Smith.


It’s still highly debatable whether great businessmen make great politicians but this was certainly true in Mayor Pingree’s case. Before becoming Mayor, Hazen was in the shoe and boot making business and he was damn good at it. By 1886 he was running a million-dollar company that was the second largest shoe manufacturer in the United States.

Anti-Corruption & Monopoly

Hazen despised corruption and monopolies and notably took on the Electric, Telephone, and Railroad lobbies to expose their corruption and bribery and sought to give control of those services to the public, successfully doing so with the Public Lighting Commission which was formed under his administration.

Big Fan of Public Works

We love to talk about placemaking and investment in public projects these days in Detroit, and rightfully so. Hazen recognized the importance of this over 100 years ago and invested heavily in schools, parks, and public baths (the “urban beaches” early 1900’s).

He Looked the Part

Hazen Pingree. Photo via Library of Congress.

Finally, Hazen was a trendsetter for his time not only civically in appearance as well. He was known to get the “last word on fashion” amongst his peers in the city and bore a striking resemblance to England’s King Edward VII, so much so that when he was fatally ill the King himself sent his own physicians to assist in his recovery.

Still want more Pingree bits? I’ve only scratched the surface on what a fascinating individual “Potato Patch” was; did you know he was present at the Appomattox Court House for the Robert E. Lee’s surrender of the Confederate Army, or that he was also elected Governor while he was Mayor and attempted to serve both positions?

If you want to get the full story of Hazen S. Pingree and all of his amazing anecdotes and accomplishments I suggest you check out these sources:




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Renovation Project On Woodward In Downtown Detroit Reveals Old Sanders Sign http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/08/08/renovation-project-woodward-downtown-detroit-reveals-old-sanders-sign/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/08/08/renovation-project-woodward-downtown-detroit-reveals-old-sanders-sign/#respond Tue, 08 Aug 2017 20:27:11 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=37752 For 85 years, Sanders did business at this location on Woodward Avenue – 1529 Woodward, just south of Grand Circus Park.

That’s until the December of 1982, when, according to newspaper reports, it closed up shop. The signage was was covered over, and except in the minds of the older among us, the downtown Detroit store was forgotten.

Sanders was founded in 1875 and is a legendary name in Detroit and is the company that makes all kinds of sweet treats like bumpy cake, candies and hot fudge.

The words “Sanders” are unmistakable from across the street and are actually engraved into the facade.

According to a reader, this facade with the “Sanders” was installed in 1948, nearly 70 years ago. Below is the original facade from 1912.

Posted by Benjamin Gravel on Tuesday, August 8, 2017


In the 1970s, Sanders as a company had ran into trouble. At one point it had 143 outlets, but competition drove it to the brink of erasure.

The brand and the recipes were purchased by Morley Candy Company in 2002. Now there are seven Sanders stores in the region and two on Mackinac Island.

According to a promotion site for Bedrock, the 60,422 square foot building will become office and retail space.

Sachse Construction is the construction management firm, hired by Bedrock Detroit to lead the historic restoration and the core and shell work of the buildings.

“The Grinnell and Sanders Buildings have been part of the fabric of the city for more than 100 years,” said Todd Sachse, CEO of Sachse Construction when reached for comment. “Having our headquarters in Detroit, we understand the importance of our city’s history firsthand and we’re proud to lead the historic restoration on this project, preserving these buildings for use by future generations.”

So what’s next? Work on this stretch of Woodward began in late 2016 and is expected to be complete in early 2018.

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PODCAST: The History Of Henry The Hatter And Its Future With Paul Wasserman http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/07/16/podcast-history-henry-hatter-future-paul-wasserman/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/07/16/podcast-history-henry-hatter-future-paul-wasserman/#respond Mon, 17 Jul 2017 02:52:10 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=37415

Henry the Hatter is one of the most beloved establishments in all of Metro Detroit. The clientele of the oldest hat shop in the United States, owned by Paul Wasserman, is a who’s who of musicians, politicians, and even a president.

For this special episode of the Daily Detroit Happy Hour Podcast, Sven Gustafson stopped into the iconic store to talk to Paul.

Paul shares how his lease got unexpectedly ended, the history of the place (including how his father came to buy it), and we even touch on the future plans for this piece of living Detroit history that has roots back to 1893.

If you enjoyed this episode of the Daily Detroit Happy Hour, we have much more where that came from. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-daily-detroit-happy-hour/id1168444594?mt=2

You can also find our podcasts on all major podcatchers.

Thanks also to Podcast Detroit: http://www.podcastdetroit.com/

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Get A Sneak Peek Of The Restoration Of The Historic Palmer Park Log Cabin This Saturday http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/06/21/get-sneak-peek-restoration-historic-palmer-park-log-cabin-saturday/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/06/21/get-sneak-peek-restoration-historic-palmer-park-log-cabin-saturday/#respond Wed, 21 Jun 2017 20:02:56 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=36786 There has been a lot of work done on the Palmer Park Log Cabin. So much in fact that the People for Palmer Park want to invite people to a special grand opening concert celebration this Saturday. Usually the cabin is only open during Log Cabin day, however this year it will be open both Saturday and Sunday.

If you have been around Detroit for any amount of time you probably know about the log cabin in the middle of Palmer Park. It was the former summer home for Senator Thomas Palmer and his wife Lizzie.

The cabin was built in 1885 and was designed by George D. Mason and Zachariah Rice. Mason also did The Ransom Gillis House and The Masonic Temple.

While it looked like a log cabin from the outside, it had all of the modern conveniences of its time. The first floor had a parlor, dining room, a kitchen, and an indoor bathroom. The bedrooms were on the second floor.

The cabin also has two large fireplaces. The cabin also had all of those great décor accents that you find in homes of that era, like the carved staircase and decorative door hinges.The Palmers gave the City of Detroit 140 acres of land and the cabin in 1893. The cabin became a museum until the 1970s. After the museum closed the cabin was boarded up and left to decay. For years raccoons took up a residence inside the cabin.

For the past few years the People for Palmer Park have been working with the City of Detroit to try and get the cabin stabilized and renovated.

The City of Detroit has worked on the cabin extensively in 2016. The cabin has had the cedar shingle roof replaced, the foundation repaired, replaced the porch canopy, fixed the back wall and added a new rear entrance. The city also removed all of the remaining animal feces from the walls and ceiling.

For their part the People for Palmer Park raised money during the “Light Up The Cabin” campaign to get the 32 stained glass windows restored.

The organization brought in Andrea Sevonty of Sevonty Restoration to restore the stained glass windows. Sevonty did a complete restore on each of the windows. There were seven windows missing so she had to build the window with new stained glass that matches the original windows.

“Up until this week the windows have always been covered with plywood. We now have a new security storm system that will allow light to come in. Our whole campaign for the window restoration was called ‘light up the cabin’. It was entirely based on fundraising,” said Sevonty. “We’re eternally thankful to anyone who donated any amount of money because it made this thing possible. Part of that was the security system to replace the boards to let light into the cabin. This might be the first time in 40 years that this has happened.”

The new windows bring in a ton of light into the cabin, and the installation should be finished in time for this weekend.

The “Concert in the Cabin” is a fundraiser for the People for Palmer Park. The money raised will go toward the work that still needs to be done inside the cabin, like permanent lighting, the kitchen, and chimneys.

The concert will feature musicians A. Spencer Barefield, Shahida Nurullah, and Ibrahim Jones.

Concert goers will enjoy refreshments during the reception as well as a tour of the cabin.

There are two times for the concert 4 p.m.-6 p.m. and 7 p.m.-9 p.m.

Tickets for the concert are $50 per person or $60 for VIP tickets.

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Detroit’s Legendary Goat Yard Is For Sale http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/06/19/detroits-legendary-goat-yard-sale/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/06/19/detroits-legendary-goat-yard-sale/#respond Tue, 20 Jun 2017 02:33:11 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=36749 Detroit has a long history of misfits, creatives, gadflies, rabble rousers, and people who are wonderfully outside of the social “norm.”

One of the many places in the city that was defined by the people in it was the “Goat Yard,” a small boat yard on the east side of the city over by the foot of St. Jean. It was maybe the last hippie boat yard, the Detroit Boat Works.

Via Realcomp
For years it was home to a litany of never-ending nautical restoration projects, low key social gatherings and some of the most interesting people in the city of Detroit. There’s even a local documentary about it. 

View of the canal. Via Realcomp.
Now, why was it called the “Goat Yard” as opposed to a “Boat Yard?” Well, I’m going to let a great clip from an interview with Stephen Hume (more on this colorful character later, may he rest in peace) on how Nemo the Goat showed up.

“I was talking to someone in the Detroit Police … and they had some old mounted horses they were going to retire. We had a lot of space here, and so I thought I’d get a horse for Sue for her birthday. So I brought it up to Charles, and Charles was an old Hungarian calvary guy, and he said Stephen, this is no yard for a horse … if you get a horse, I will report you myself to the Humane Society. Why don’t you get her a goat?”

Let’s turn the page to Stephen Hume himself.

Columnists used to cover him with some regularity, including relaying a story of how he would regularly needle former Mayor Coleman A. Young, including many unsuccessful attempts at various political offices.

For a particular project in 1992, Hume took a small boat and flew from it a box kite that had attached a giant banner that read, “RETIRE YOUNG.”

He then piloted that boat, kite with banner in tow, past city hall in view of the ‘ol Hizzoner. He was not amused.

The police harbormaster got ahold of Hume and ticketed him for having inadequate identification on the side of his aquatic vehicle of protest. There seem to be a thousand stories floating around about Hume’s run-ins with Detroit police.

I heard Mr. Hume died a few years ago. 2013, if I remember.

This one is a little personal, as I had the good fortune as my grandmother was friends with the group to paw around the place a few times as a young kid.

It was one of my first tastes of the best of what weird Detroit really could be. Experiences like the Goat Yard are what made me fall in love with this city at an early age.

The physical place that was the Goat Yard is 1.73 acres for sale for $1.35 million and has 220 feet of canal frontage that’ll get you right to the Detroit River.

But not included in the property deed is Detroit’s weird and eccentric soul embodied in part by the Goat Yard crew. It is a spirit I hope never leaves our 139 square miles. It is priceless and part of what makes our city special.

To the Detroit Boat Works, I’ll be heading to 95 St. Jean sometime soon for one last, “Hoy, Hoy, Hara!” as grandmother used to cheer.

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The Story Of Michigan’s Almost Forgotten First Commercial Airport, Packard Field http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/06/18/story-michigans-almost-forgotten-first-commercial-airport-packard-field/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/06/18/story-michigans-almost-forgotten-first-commercial-airport-packard-field/#respond Mon, 19 Jun 2017 00:33:07 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=36710 When you drive down Gratiot Avenue in Roseville, there’s a monument just past Frazho road that would be very easy to miss.

After all, it’s painted green – the same as the surrounding bushes.

An important piece of Detroit area history was erased by a strip mall with the “greatest ratio” of parking to store area in the nation as a selling point in 1954.

That historic place ties in not only aviation, but one of Detroit’s iconic and long gone manufacturers, Packard.

That place is Michigan’s first commercial airport, Packard Field.

Best as we can find, contrary to what’s on the marker Packard Field opened in 1919 in Erin Township (part of which is now Roseville).

As a double check, looking at available 1916 maps of the area, there is no reference to an air field of any sort and the land was subdivided and held by multiple owners. The 1919 date is also corroborated by press accounts from the time.

Airplanes once filled this sky.

That doesn’t mean planes didn’t fly from there at an earlier date before it was named “Packard Field.” We just couldn’t find a record of it. Things sometimes do get sketchy after nearly 100 years of time passes.

The area is now heavily suburbanized and filled with mostly small two and three bedroom homes was mostly farmland.

Early photo of Packard Field from above.

When it came to flying planes Packard Field was reportedly the best place to be around, and it was built as a place of experimentation for private and government projects. It was also a testing ground for Packard-built aircraft engines.

The location was conveniently half way between Selfridge field (now Selfridge Air National Guard Base) and Morrow field in Northwest Detroit (now the aptly named Aviation Subdivision neighborhood in Detroit, just west of Wyoming and south of Tireman roads).

The industry was just forming and the Detroit area was the Silicon Valley of the time – not just for cars, but anything with an engine.

Stinson Detroiter Biplane at Ford Airport.

One of those advances – the innovation of three passengers and a pilot on a biplane that that had brakes on the wheels, the Stinson Detroiter – was tested and demonstrated at Packard Field, according to a Detroit Free Press article from the time.

The idea of “brakes on wheels” being an innovation tells you just how early things still were.

The design soon lost the second wing, became enclosed and was a workhorse mail carrying plane.

The Detroiter also had a special place in world history, as it was the plane that took George Hubert Wilkins on his Arctic exploration expedition of 1927.

Truman H. Newberry. Public domain photo.

In 1927, the 102 acre field was purchased by a former U.S. Senator and Secretary of the Navy, Truman Handy Newberry. He purchased it for a record (at the time for Macomb County) $3,600 an acre.

Packard Field was also home to the Michigan State Aviation School (apparently a private outfit, not affiliated with what we call Michigan State University today). Many people through that operation or others received their civilian pilot licenses there beginning in 1928.

Later on in in April of 1929, Packard Field was renamed Gratiot Airport by the operator, Hartung Aircraft Corporation. Here’s a topographical map from 1940.

It would eventually get a third name, Hartung Field. Below is the last map we could find having the airport marked (it’s the gear looking icon in the middle).

Around 1954, the Eastgate Shopping Center was built on the site. It still stands to this day.

It’s a reminder of what could be. What if instead of Romulus, the main commercial airport in our region was in Roseville, just 11 or so miles away from the Detroit’s center?

Packard Field today, the Eastgate Center.

What if the aviation industry had grown more in Detroit, and companies like Boeing were here today? These are question that are fun to think about but the answers we’ll truly never know. As so often in Metro Detroit, suburbia and space for a lifestyle devoted to the automobile won.

Remember the next time you’re shopping at the Ace Hardware or the CitiTrends over there, make sure to see the monument to a neat slice of Detroit area history.

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The Campaign Is On To Restore Newsboy Shelter On Belle Isle From 1911 http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/06/13/campaign-restore-newsboy-shelter-belle-isle-1911/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/06/13/campaign-restore-newsboy-shelter-belle-isle-1911/#respond Tue, 13 Jun 2017 16:49:01 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=36602 The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Belle Isle Conservancy are looking to restore a historic shelter on the island and say they’re in need of your help.

There is currently a fundraiser to raise $50,000 by June 30 to restore the Newsboy Shelter (Shelter #1). This shelter was built in 1911 and is one of the oldest structures on Belle Isle.

The Newsboy Shelter got it’s name due to the proximity to the newsboy statue that was dedicated to the city of Detroit in the early 1900s by James Scripps. Scripps was the founder and publisher of The Detroit News.

You have probably seen the Newsboy Shelter while visiting the Belle Isle. It is located on Central Avenue by the park entrance. Those turrets are hard to miss.

Unfortunately, the shelter has seen better days, wooden joists and roof are rotted. The structure had to be stabilized with a support structure, because of the possibility that it could be brought down by a strong storm. The cedar-shingled roof now has a protective membrane on it as a precaution.

“While there has been an incredible amount of investment in park improvements by the DNR and the Belle Isle Conservancy since the island became a state park, there are simply not enough resources to address all of the needs in the park,” said Michele Hodges, president of the Belle Isle Conservancy. “We are being creative and tapping into platforms such as Patronicity to diversify revenue streams to address much-needed park improvements. The Newsboy Shelter campaign is one way for passionate individuals and groups to take action and make a contribution to help preserve these special places that we all love.”

It is so important to protect the pieces of our collective history, and the Newsboy Shelter is one of those places. There is no way we would be able to recreate this shelter if we were to loose it.

If you are interested in donating you can go to the Patronicity page that has been set up. All donations are tax deductible. You also get some pretty cool gifts depending on how much you donate.


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Anthony Bourdain Producing New Four-Part CNN Series Focusing On Detroit http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/05/17/anthony-bourdain-producing-new-four-part-cnn-series-focusing-detroit/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/05/17/anthony-bourdain-producing-new-four-part-cnn-series-focusing-detroit/#respond Wed, 17 May 2017 20:42:58 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=36101 A four-part series focusing on Detroit’s heyday is coming to CNN in 2018.

“Detroit 1963: Once in a Great City” is the working title and will be produced by Anthony Bourdain and Lydia Tenaglia. Per the release:

…is a four-part series about the city of Detroit at its high point when their auto industry was the envy of the world and Motown ruled the airwaves.

The docuseries, produced by Zero Point Zero, will take viewers back to a time in America when people believed in the power and goodness of big corporations, had high hopes for racial parity, and looked to institutions like unions and the government to solve their problems.

The series title is a riff on the David Maraniss book “Once In A Great City,” and the series will draw from that work.

This isn’t Bourdain’s first TV tango with Detroit. If you remember, back in 2013 Bourdain and Charlie LeDuff tooled around town to for Bourdain’s flagship show, “Parts Unknown.”

Parts of Detroit’s history are back in the national zeitgeist. There’s an upcoming August release of the movie “Detroit,” about the Algiers Motel incident during the 1968 riots that is already getting award-level buzz.

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