MotorCities National Heritage Area
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Browse destinations, activities or interests to plan your automotive heritage trip! With arts and entertainment, parks, gardens, cemeteries, libraries, archives, museums, historic homes, motor sports and roadside auto culture, there is truly something for everyone. Pick your places, pack up the car, put the pedal to the metal and explore the MotorCities! Explore MotorCities Button


SWD AHG Msthd 5.7.20



Few sites in Southwest Detroit provide more insights into the city’s industrial evolution than those that were established on 46 acres south of Michigan Avenue. American Car and Foundry was one of the city’s early manufacturers of railroad freight cars. Although it evolved into one of the nation’s largest industrial trusts prior to the turn of the 20th century, its facilities were moved out of state in the course of consolidation. 

In 1919, General Motors began construction on the Cadillac production facility.  When completed in 1926, it was one of the most modern operations in the world − producing luxury automobiles for more than sixty years. In 1997, its operations and those of its sister Fisher Body Fleetwood plant were consolidated into the GM Hamtramck facility. General Motors and its partners then launched the development of the Clark Street Industrial Park, Vitec a minority owned supplier of plastic gas tanks was one of the early anchors and was recently acquired by Kautex / Textron. The Ideal Group led an effort to develop, with two other Hispanic owned businesses, the Hispanic Manufacturing Center on a portion of the site. The Guide hopes to highlight these firms in future posts.




General Motors Media Archives
Clark St Cadillac Assembly

Kel Keller
Clark Street Technology Park Entry




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Welcome to the Southwest Detroit Auto Heritage Guide, a resource chronicling the auto legacy built by the entrepreneurs, workers, businesses, and unions of Southwest Detroit. 

1 FIRMS SITES WelcomeVisit Firms & Sites for the stories of key Southwest Detroit businesses and places. The recommended order of viewing sites outlined there offers a chronological arc of the neighborhood’s auto legacy.


2 COMMUNITY HISTORY WelcomeCommunity History puts into context the trends and topics highlighted in the stories of individual firms and neighborhood sites.


3 LABOR ROOTS WelcomeLabor History posts explore the emergence of the United Auto Workers union in the late 1930s, its achievements, and the challenges it confronted in the decades that followed.


4 WE AUTO KNOW MORE WelcomeThe We “Auto” Know More page explains our interest in profiling other firms. We anticipate paying tribute to the ties of various ethnic communities to the auto industry while documenting the histories of Teamsters Local 299 and the United Steel Workers Local 1299.


5 BUILD THE GUIDE WelcomeThis section introduces you to those responsible for developing the Guide and outlines how you can help contribute to future Guide updates.


6 MAP WelcomeThe Map harnesses Google Map features to permit viewers to locate the sites that are featured in the Guide. The thumbnails featured there allow easy access to our site profiles while identifying other important cultural resources that highlight Motor City auto history.



Detroit Historical Society
Lincoln Motor Car Company / Ford Local 600 Women’s Auxiliary Workshop

Detroit Public Library, National Automotive History Collection
DeSoto Plant

Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University
Michigan Central Station Passengers / GM Cadillac Sit Down Strike Pickets


Auto Heritage Hunt art concept 2.0

We are excited to announce our event's first place winner of $500: Bruce Blevins!

Auto Heritage winner Bruce Blevins 600 pixels

We hope all our teams enjoyed the journey! During these difficult times, we wanted to create a safe and fun experience, and we did just that.

The runners up were the following:
2nd Place Winner - David Wood
3rd Place Winner - Chris Nichols
4th Place Winner - Lisa Rush

They will choose from the following prizes:
- A pair of Detroit Lions tickets in the lower bowl for a 2020 (if fans are allowed) or 2021 game (courtesy of Lawyers Realty of Mt. Clemens)
- A golf/hotel package from Eagle Crest Golf Resort in Ypsilanti and the Fairfield Inn by Marriott Ann Arbor Ypsilanti
- A Monroe County eagle watching tour on the property of DTE Energy (courtesy of DTE Energy)

Thank you to everyone who made this event possible and for keeping our auto and labor heritage alive! 

To see a photo album from the event, click here.