Detroit: Like No Place Else

The automotive industry has shaped the city's history and culture.
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The automotive industry is the engine that makes the Motor City run. Detroit is the automotive center of the world and the ultimate company town; TgeFord, General Motors and Chrysler are the dominant economic force in the city. More than 120,000 people in southeast Michigan worked for the Big Three in 2008. Hundreds of thousands more work for companies that supply the automotive industry.

The auto industry has shaped the city’s culture. When Henry Ford opened the first modern automotive assembly plant in the Detroit suburb of Highland Park in 1910, he had trouble finding enough workers to make his Model Ts. So he paid his employees a then-sumptuous $5 a day wage. The well-paid auto workers gave the city an economically viable working class that could afford to buy the cars they made, a tradition that continues today. The car companies offer generous employee discounts through a program known as the A Plan. Since even distantly related family members qualify for the A Plan discount, gaggles of Detroiters drive new cars on the network of fast-moving freeways that criss-cross southeastern Michigan. The car culture is king here.

Start your engines by exploring the Detroit car story. Here are four experiences that every Detroiter ought to have:

Henry Ford Museum 
20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn 
At this premier museum of American culture in Dearborn, you can see and ride in the Model T that started it all. While you’re there, take the Ford Rouge Factory Tour.

Henry Ford’s Estate 
4901 Evergreen Road, Dearborn 
Henry and Clara Ford’s home in Dearborn, known as Fair Lane, is a 31,000-square-foot, 56-room mansion that cost an unbelievable $1.9 million to build in 1915. Ford lived there until his death in 1947. The home and some of its outbuildings have been restored and opened to the public.

North American International Auto Show 
It’s the largest and most influential car show in the world, attracting not only the Big Three, but also automotive manufacturers from around the world who come to Detroit every January to show off their latest and greatest.

Woodward Dream Cruise 
On the third Saturday in August, more than 30,000 muscle cars, street rods, custom, collector cars and other cool vehicles cruise 16 miles up Woodward Avenue from the northern Detroit city limits at 8 Mile Road to Wide Track Drive in Pontiac. Take a lawn chair and a cooler and admire the paint jobs on Detroit’s finest old beauties.

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