MotorCities National Heritage Area logo

John Dingell coffin RESIZED

As Michigan and the nation said goodbye to Congressman John Dingell in 2019, MotorCities also says farewell and thank you to our champion.

In his more than 59 years of service in the U.S. Congress, John Dingell championed influential legislation to support all sectors. He authored and co-sponsored the Automobile National Heritage Act in 1998 to create what is now the MotorCities National Heritage Area.

Dingell retired in 2014, and passed the torch to his wife, Debbie, who now represents his district in Congress. In 2015, he was the inaugural recipient of the MotorCities Milestone Award, recognizing all of his contributions. Since the creation of the heritage area, Dingell was its most vocal advocate imploring the organization to work to tell the story of the region and its people.

Rest in peace, John, and know that you served your state and nation well!

John and Debbie Dingell RESIZEDJohn and Debbie Dingell are pictured in July 2018 at Fair Lane, the Home of Henry and Clara Ford, where they were interviewed for MotorCities 20th Anniversary.

Diego Rivera DIA frescoes RESIZED

If you're in Detroit for the Rocket Mortgage Classic, the Detroit Grand Prix, the North American International Auto Show at Huntington Place, business, pleasure or a special event, there are incredible historic sites that tell the story of the automotive industry and labor movement. There are a number of places within walking distance, by hopping on the QLine, the Detroit People Mover or by taking a short drive:

Transcending monument Hart Plaza

Hart Plaza

1 Hart Plaza 

Hart Plaza is an outdoor, urban recreation area on the Detroit River Front featuring the iconic ‘Transcending’ monument (pictured above) dedicated to the labor movement and strength of the men and women who built Detroit.

Renaissance Center RESIZED

General Motors Renaissance Center

400 Renaissance Center 

The Renaissance Center complex is a group of seven interconnected skyscrapers in downtown Detroit that serves as the global headquarters for General Motors.

Detroit Historical Museum Americas Motor City exhibitAmerica's Motor City exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum

Detroit Historical Museum 

5401 Woodward Ave  

Located in Detroit's bustling Cultural Center, the Detroit Historical Museum is one of America's oldest museum sites showcasing the Motor City's rich automotive and local history. The museum has regular hours open the public in addition to special events. 

Diego Rivera Murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts  

5200 Woodward Ave.  

The Diego Rivera murals (pictured at the top of this page) at the Detroit Institute of Arts is a powerful interpretation of the area's auto and labor history completed using 27 fresco panels between 1932-1933. In 2014, the murals were given National Landmark status. Take in the famed work along with other incredible displays at the DIA during regular museum hours. 

Detroit Public Library  

5201 Woodward Ave. 

The Detroit Public Library's main branch is across the street from the Detroit Institute of Arts and adjacent to the Detroit Historical Museum. Its Skillman Branch downtown (currently closed due to construction in the area) is home to the National Automotive History Collection, which features nearly 40,000 images commemorating automotive heritage. The digitized special collection features photographs of automobiles, industry leaders, races, reliability tours, auto shows, factories, roads, highways, gas stations, repair shops, etc. 

Ford Piquette Avenue Plant
Ford Piquette Plant Museum/Milwaukee Junction  

461 Piquette Ave.  

The Ford Piquette Plant Museum serves as one of the historical footings for the Ford empire as Henry Ford's Model T was born in the restored building at the corner of Beaubien and Piquette in downtown Detroit. Surrounding the Piquette Plant, a bustling automotive community formed in the area called Milwaukee Junction. Many early auto manufacturers built factories within Milwaukee Junction such as Fisher Body, Cadillac, Studebaker, Packard, Regal, Dodge and others.   

Antique Touring photo RESIZED 450

Fisher Building

3011 W. Grand Blvd. 

Built just before the Great Depression and financed by the Fisher family, Detroit’s Fisher Building stands as an ornate and grand landmark from the heyday of the automotive industry. The Fisher Brothers started as carriage builders in 1908 before turning toward manufacturing parts for early automobiles. The family eventually sold the business to General Motors and used funds from the sale to finance construction of the building. 

Boston Edison Historic District  

Between Linwood and Woodward, east/west; and between Boston and Edison, north/south 

The Boston Edison neighborhood once served as home to Detroit’s power brokers such as Henry Ford, the Fisher family, James Couzens, Walter P. Reuther and Joe Louis. Take self-guided tour of one of the Detroit’s most famed and historic neighborhoods by visiting the website: 

Beyond Detroit 

For more sites that commemorate Michigan's rich and unique automotive heritage, click here take a look at the MotorCities interactive map.  


MotorCities National Heritage Area mini-grant program looks to award up to 10 grants each year with a max value of $1,500.  Though the mini-grants are smaller awards than our traditional challenge grant program, they present an opportunity for greater impact to projects and communities across the region.

Grants are intended for short-term, high impact projects that need that extra little bit to move from concept to reality.  Examples of mini-grants might include tours, field trips, conferences, lectures, planning and studies. If you have an idea please do not hesitate to reach out to see if it qualifies. 




Click here to review the 2023 MotorCities Grant Training Workshop.  New applicants must review the workshop  AND contact MotorCities Grant Coordinator, Brian Yopp (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 313.259.3425 x 307) prior to submitting an application. 



  • Grant applicants must be current members of MotorCities National Heritage Area and maintain that membership throughout the entirety of their proposed project.
  • The MotorCities grant award will not exceed $1500. 
  • Mini-grants DO NOT REQUIRE A MATCH however projects which exhibit match and additional leveraging will receive preference based on the feasibility of completion.
  • Once awarded, recipients will receive 50% of the award with signed grant agreement.  The remaining 50% will be remitted upon completion of project and submission of necessary closeout reports.
  • Grant cannot be awarded for any for-profit ventures, fundraising, lobbying, general promotion or advertising.
  • Projects must be largely automobile and/or labor heritage related and must deal with: Revitalization of our historic automotive and labor structures through preservation, Interpretation efforts which attempt to tell the story to a broad audience, Education activities which engage a specific audience and creates increased appreciation of our heritage and Tourism projects which promote the region and its heritage activities.
  • Projects which exemplify diversity, equity and inclusion will receive preference.
  • There will be a maximum of 10 mini-grants awarded for 2024.
  • Your progress can be saved at any time with a link sent to you. Just click the "Save Answers and Resume Later" link at the bottom of the page.

For more information, contact the MotorCities Challenge Grant Program Coordinator: Brian Yopp at 313.259.3425 x 307 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..