MotorCities National Heritage Area

November 19, 2021

On November 17, the MotorCities National Heritage Area Partnership honored U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell and seven finalists who distinguished themselves in the areas of auto and labor heritage with its 8th annual Awards of Excellence. 

Winners in each of the three categories -- revitalization, education and tourism – were announced during Michigan Auto Heritage Day from the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum in Lansing.

The winner of the award for Revitalization was the Fort-Rouge Gateway (FRoG) Partnership for the Fort Street Bridge Interpretive Park in southwest Detroit. The park, which opened in October 2020, remembers the Ford Hunger March on March 7, 1932 and the five workers killed -- one of the most significant events leading to the creation of the United Auto Workers union. The historic Fort Street Bridge, central to the march, was decommissioned in 2013, and a new bridge was built in its place. The FRoG partnership worked for almost a decade to ensure the history of the Hunger March, the significance of the former bridge and its importance to the region is now recognized at the park. 

The winner of the award for Interpretation and Education was the Detroit Historical Museum for their “Body by Fisher” exhibit. The exhibit, which opened in August, explains the iconic company’s complete history of building automotive bodies, including its founding by the Fisher Brothers, later acquisition by General Motors and its dissolution in the 1980s. 

Finally, the winner of the award for Heritage Tourism is the Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores for their new Visitors Center, which opened in May. The attraction’s first expansion in over 90 years, the 40,000 square-foot building offers a new restaurant, four event spaces, exhibition spaces, expanded program offerings and breathtaking views of Ford Cove.

Congresswoman Dingell was honored with MotorCities’ annual Milestone Award. She has been a stalwart supporter of MotorCities from its beginning, when she headed the General Motors Foundation. In that role, she helped secure the launch of the heritage area in 1998 and built a strong partnership with GM which continues to this day. After that, Dingell served on MotorCities‘ Leadership Council and now chairs the group. Since her election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2015, she has continued her support by sponsoring two reauthorization bills, culminating this year in H.R. 5044, a bill to reauthorize the MotorCities National Heritage Area for 15 more years. 

Michigan Automotive Heritage Day and Awards of Excellence began in 2014 and has become an annual opportunity to celebrate the story that can only be told in Michigan: how this area "Put The World On Wheels."