In Detroit, you can find automotive history on almost every corner—you need only know where to look. Here are five more little-known landmarks of the Motor City.
As noted in the first story in this series, Six Forgotten Landmarks of the Motor City, there’s no shortage of material on this subject. There’s automotive history everywhere in Detroit. We can continue on this subject for as long as the interest holds.
For each historical point of interest, we’ve tried to include enough geographical info that readers can follow along using Internet resources such as Google Maps, or even look up these places in person if they happen to be in the Detroit area. If you start feeling peckish, you can even stop for a pizza or gyros. Below: five more historical landmarks of the Motor City.
There are two replicas of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall in the Motor City. The better-known of the two is the front wing of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. The other is this one on Charlevoix Street near Conner, originally the headquarters of the Liberty Motor Car Co. Built in 1919 and now surrounded by the sprawling Chrysler Jefferson Ave. complex, the facility was home for many years to body manufacturer Budd Co., later known as ThyssenKrupp-Budd. When this photo was was snapped a few years ago, the company still occupied the building, but it is now vacant, unfortunately.
At the intersection of Ford and Greenfield in Dearborn, there’s a beautiful little park tucked away on the southeast corner of the boulevard. The many visitors enjoy the stone benches, flowers, and lovely fountain, but unless they read the marker above, few will ever learn the history of this spot: This is the birthplace of Henry Ford. The 1861 farmhouse of William Ford, Henry’s father, is still standing, but was moved from this site decades ago to Greenfield Village, a few miles southwest.
If these walls could talk. In the 1960s, this handsome commercial building on Trowbridge St. just off Michigan Ave. in Dearborn was the home of Andy Hotton’s Dearborn Steel Tubing, Inc. A Ford contractor responsible for countless backdoor performance programs including the 1964 Fairlane Thunderbolts, the company still operates today as DST Industries in nearby Romulus. The building on Trowbridge was most recently occupied by Livernois Performance, a successful Motor City motorsports firm in its own right.
Where the Grand Trunk and Michigan Central rail lines cross Holden St. a few blocks southwest of the former General Motors Building, you’ll find this century-old factory that originally housed the Warren Motor Car Co,. manufacturers of the Warren-Detroit automobile (1909-1913, approximately). For a brief time, the Lozier Motor Co. also built cars in this facility, which today is occupied by a commercial recycling firm.
If you’re ever in the Greektown neighborhood near downtown Detroit, you may want to stop at Niki’s (on Beaubien Street in the shadow of the Greektown Casino) for some real Detroit-style pizza (square, deep-dish). Niki’s is housed in the ancient Boydell Building, which also happens to be the home of the original Dodge Brothers machine shop. It was here in 1901 that John and Horace, successful bicycle mechanics, got their start in the auto business. Suppliers of engines and chassis to Olds, Cadillac, and Ford, the Dodge Brothers were already among the largest auto manufacturers in America when they launched their own automobile brand in 1914.
to be continued…