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


During World War II, metro Detroit and the region encompassing our MotorCities National Heritage Area converted from the production of automobiles to the materials of war. Dubbed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as America's "Arsenal of Democracy," this region played a key role in helping the Allies win the war.

Now, in the midst of the national emergency caused by the spreading of COVID-19, many companies in Michigan are once again responding to the needs of the country and converting to production of ventilators, masks, hand sanitizer and other products necessary to win this new fight.

The production line at Willow Run Yankee Air Museum RESIZED 3The bomber production line at Willow Run (Photo courtesy of the Yankee Air Museum)

To bring some perspective to our history and its relevance in 2020, here are some resources from our MotorCities partners to help you learn more about our proud history as the Arsenal of Democracy.

Detroit Historical Society

Detroit: The Arsenal of Democracy Exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum

Encyclopedia of Detroit -- Arsenal of Democracy

Encyclopedia of Detroit -- Willow Run

Interactive Arsenal of Democracy Map

The Henry Ford

The Willow Run Bomber Plant

Historic Fort Wayne

10 Key Events from Historic Fort Wayne's History

Yankee Air Museum

Current Exhibits at the Yankee Air Museum at Willow Run

Site 8 I 96 EB ramp to I 75 SB Detroit CROPPED and RESIZEDI-96 Eastbound ramp to I-75 Southbound in Detroit
Drivers in metro Detroit, as well as the Flint and Lansing areas, are likely to notice something new along the highways -- those familiar brown National Park Service signs with a message welcoming them to the MotorCities National Heritage Area! The first nine signs were installed in November and December 2019 and are the culmination of many years of work with the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Site 6 WB I 96 before US 127 RESIZEDWestbound I-96 before US 127 near Lansing

You can find the signs at the following locations: 

  • Southbound I-75 before the Mt. Morris exit north of Flint;

  • Eastbound I-69 near Lansing Road northeast of Lansing;

  • Eastbound I-96 near the I-69 interchange northwest of Lansing;

  • Eastbound I-96 near the US 127 interchange southeast of Lansing;

  • Westbound I-96 near the US 127 interchange southeast of Lansing;

  • Westbound I-94 before the M-59 exit in Chesterfield Twp.;

  • Eastbound I-96 on the ramp to southbound I-75 in Detroit (pictured);

  • Northbound I-75 on the ramp to westbound I-96 in Detroit;

  • Northbound I-75 near Monroe-Wayne County border.

Site 3 EB I 96 SB I 69 RESIZEDEastbound I-96 near the I-69 interchange

Six more signs will be installed to complete the 15 that make up the first phase of MotorCities' highway sign rollout, so stay tuned for additional installations coming soon near Kalamazoo, Jackson, and Ypsilanti.

MotorCities has two more opportunities this year to hear from subject matter experts, get practical advice and network with other nonprofit professionals.

Financial Basics and Grant Opportunities for Your Organization
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Michigan Firehouse Museum
100 W Cross St. in Ypsilanti

Help your organization's bottom line with assistance from our panel, including:

  • Financial Basics for Nonprofits - Ramona Oliverio, Accounting Services
  • Grant Writing Tips & Grant Opportunities from the Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs - Jeff Garrett, Operational Support Program Manager, MCACA
  • MotorCities Grant Procedures Update - Brian Yopp, Director of Programs & Operations, MotorCities National Heritage Area

Preserving Your Collections and Surviving Disasters
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Benson Ford Research Center
The Henry Ford in Dearborn

Stay tuned for more about our panel coming soon!

Each session is $20, or you can register for all three in advance at a cost of $50.

Lunch is included, so please inform us of any dietary or mobility restrictions at the time of your registration.