Our luxury bus will take us on a 25 minute ride to Ford's Piquette Avenue Plant, which is the oldest, purpose-built automotive factory building in the world. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002, which tells you that it is an important place. However, calling it an important place may the greatest understate one could make about it. It is the birthplace of the Model T, and therefore the birthplace of the modern industrial economy. It was the place where the America went from being a country of farms to being a country of industrial might.
Built in 1904, it was the second center of automobile production for the Ford Motor Company, but the first one that Henry Ford owned. The company assembled several car models at this factory, including the Ford Model T, which was created there and first produced there starting in 1908. Early experiments using a moving assembly line to make cars were also conducted there. It was also the first factory where more than 100 cars were assembled in one day. While it was based at the Piquette Avenue Plant, Ford Motor Company became the biggest US-based automaker, and it would remain so until the mid-1920s. The factory was used by the company until 1910, when its car production activity was relocated to the new, bigger Highland Park Ford Plant in Highland Park, Michigan.
The Piquette Avenue Plant was sold in 1911 to Studebaker, which used the factory to assemble cars until 1933. Studebaker sold the building in 1936, and the former car factory went through a series of owners for the remainder of the 20th century before becoming a museum in 2001.
Through all of Detroit's ups and downs, the building never fell into uncaring hands and today it remains largely unchanged. It is a unique opportunity to see the automotive world as it existed in the eyes of Henry Ford.
Following the tour, we will have lunch a nearby eatery located in the area that is now the heart of downtown Detroit's revitalization.