By Charles Sercombe
How many books can you write about on Hamtramck?
For author Greg Kowalski, it appears there is no final chapter on this subject – a subject he knows near and dear. Kowalski, an editor for the O & E newspaper chain and chairman of Hamtramck’s Historical Commission, has written his fourth book on Hamtramck.
“Hamtramck Then and Now” takes a look back at Hamtramck during the past several decades through the use of old photos and compares each subject to how it looks today. The changes are both fascinating and heartbreaking in the sense that much has been lost or fallen into decay.
But no matter, if you are a Hamtramck fan, this book offers a unique insight into the community and what makes it so different than other cities.
Kowalski has previously written on Hamtramck through the World War II years and its industrial history. He also put together a special volume for the city’s 75th anniversary.
Kowalski said he’s not done writing about the city he grew up in and continues to call home. He will have another book coming out later in the year called, “Wicked Hamtramck.” It’s part of a series being published by the History Press that explores the more colorful aspects of cities.
As the title implies, Hamtramck’s underbelly and criminal world will be explored. When it comes to wicked, believe it, Hamtramck has a very interesting story to tell.
As for “Then and Now,” Kowalski said the tricky part was making sure the locations and scenes he compared had not “turned into an empty lot.”
He also said he “wanted to have a little fun” with this book by staging locals in similar poses and clothing to some of the people in the “then” photos. Police Chief Mark Kalinowski and former Citizen newspaper reporter Terry Parris, Jr. were recruited to stand in for some “now” side of the photos.
Kowalski will be signing books at the following dates and locations: Feb. 20 at the Polish Art Center in Hamtramck, 1-3 p.m.; Feb. 27 at Café 1923 in Hamtramck, 3-5 p.m. and March 4 at the Hamtramck Public Library, 2-4 p.m.
“Hamtramck Then and Now” is published by Arcadia Press and so are three other books Kowalski wrote for the company: “Soul of a City,” “The Driven City,” and “Hamtramck: The World War II Years.”