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Art & Inspiration Ruins of Detroit/Industrial Archeology Trip Planned

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by phartman, Jul 11, 2019.

  1. Before the summer is over, I have the opportunity to visit Detroit. Can any of you make some suggestions about what to visit and where to go to see first hand the early roots of the automobile industry and related crafts? My interests are multiple: automotive manufacturing, industrial archeology, and Industrial/Machine Age art. A couple "must sees" on the list so far are the Model T plant, the Rouge Plant, the Institute of Art, and the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn.

    If anyone could help as far as suggestions of tours such as the abandoned Packard plant and the like, it is much appreciated.

    Thanks in advance for your suggestions. This trip has been on my bucket list for quite some time. Oh, and if makes any difference as far as sites along the way, I will be traveling up from Louisville, KY.
    lothiandon1940 and bobss396 like this.
  2. derbydad276
    Joined: May 29, 2011
    Posts: 1,164


    Hines Park... Nankin Mills and Wilcox Mill two of Ford's rural factory shops
    The Fisher Building...
    Guardian Building ...
    Belle Isle Aquarium ...

    Stay out of the Packard Plant ... more and more of it falls in daily

    Piquette Plant is really cool
    Boston Edison district ... auto barons early mansions...
    drive The Davison Freeway ...
    First one in America
    The Henry Ford & Greenfield Village

    dang I could give tours ...
    pm me
    Deuces likes this.
  3. 19Fordy
    Joined: May 17, 2003
    Posts: 6,341


    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019 likes this.
  4. derbydad276
    Joined: May 29, 2011
    Posts: 1,164


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  5. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 17,256

    from California

    first thing to do is go online and buy some body armor. if you do not have a gun, buy one and learn how to use it.
  6. derbydad276
    Joined: May 29, 2011
    Posts: 1,164


    ClayMart likes this.
  7. 31Apickup
    Joined: Nov 8, 2005
    Posts: 1,801


    If you need a gun and body armor, then you’re somewhere you shouldn’t be. Lived most of my life there and never had a problem

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    arthurC3 and ClayMart like this.
  8. topher5150
    Joined: Feb 10, 2017
    Posts: 1,490


    GPS took me down E McNichols road, and it was like a ghost town. Most of the business were boarded up and falling in on themselves, burned out abandoned burned out houses everywhere.
  9. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 17,256

    from California

  10. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 5,227

    Bandit Billy

    You might want to ask Dick Jones, he runs OCP and OCP runs the cops.
  11. ahoover
    Joined: Jun 12, 2008
    Posts: 42


    I would say the city is reasonably safe during the day. Most car related stuff is outside of downtown Detroit. All the original stuff that still stands is ruins now and in sketchy areas. Pontiac and Flint plants are mostly demolished. Not much to see at the M1 course in Pontiac unless you go for Cars and Coffee on Saturday mornings. It stands where they ended production of the S10 and Blazer plant that was torn down.

    Living in the area for 60 years, this is what I recommend:

    Detroit Historical Museum - Downtown, Has numerous displays including music and automobiles. Cadillac "body drop," taken from the Clark Street assembly plant when it closed in 1987, is a permanent exhibit. You can watch a Cadillac body lower onto the frame. Rotating exhibit of old cars. Huge model train layout and a lot of Detroit stuff.

    The Institute of Arts is very good and a block from the Historical Museum.

    As said Piquette Plant downtown

    Henry Ford Museum and Rouge tour are tied together - Dearborn

    Stahls Auto Museum - North of Detroit, in new Baltimore is worth the ride. Only open on Tuesdays, donation to enter. Lots of cool and rare cars.

    Hudson Museum in Ypsilanti - West of Detroit, an actual Hudson dealership showcases all cars built in Ypsilanti
    (Hudson, Tucker, Kaiser Frazer, Corvair, Nova, and Hydra-matic transmission). Small but worth the ride.

    As said The Packard Proving Grounds. But that will only take 5 minutes, not worth the trip. The track and grounds were sold years ago to build condo's. All the remains are the original buildings and entrance gate. You can see more on-line.

    Wills Sainte Claire Auto Museum - to the north near Port Huron. Open 2nd Sunday of the month from 1pm-5pm.

    The Dream Cruise in August is a HUGE attraction. But it's a overcrowded parking lot for any type of cruising. Overpopulated by SUV's and pickups blocking the view and taking up space. Back to the bricks in Flint is on the same day, less crowded and much better in my opinion.

    Frankenmuth AutoFest the weekend after labor day. Huge car event, beautiful setting lots and lots of rods from rat rods to trailer queens. Book a room a year in advance though otherwise you'll be staying 20 miles away.
 and Bearcat_V8 like this.
  12. Boryca
    Joined: Jul 18, 2011
    Posts: 597

    from Detroit

    Rat, I live in Detroit and spend the majority of my time in the city. Kindly piss off.

    @phartman - Hit me up when you're headed this way, I'll take you on a tour of the lesser known sites. There's a lot of history in this old city. Old speed shops, historic manufacturing sites that aren't listed places, etc.

  13. I visited your city a couple years ago during Autorama. Toured a little of downtown, but only to go find dinner in Greektown. Loved what I saw, and have wanted to come back. Really looking forward to the visit. Thank you for the offer to show me around.

    I just visited the Steel Stacks in Bethlehem, PA and the Mack Plant and other sites in Allentown. Very interesting, sacred ground. I am certain Detroit will be the same way.
  14. pirate
    Joined: Jun 29, 2006
    Posts: 281

    from Alabama

    I find a trip to Detroit for Industrial Archaeology both interesting and also ironic. I was born and raised as they say in the downriver area of Detroit. As a kid in the 50’s our family often went downtown for shopping and events and as a teenager in the 60’s went downtown on dates and for other events. Never feared for my safety. As a kid just about all my family and friends families worked for one of the Big Three or were some how connected to the auto industry through suppliers or other companies. Detroit was a working mans town and thrived on that reputation.

    It seemed you graduated from high school and went to work for one of the Big Three or went to college and then came back and worked for the Big Three. It seemed most jobs were connected to the auto industry. I worked at Ford Motor for seventeen years and finally tired of the feast or famine nature of the business and moved south in the early 80’s just as things were getting bad for the city and auto industry. I never looked back.

    Even when leaving I never imaged just how bad things could get with some of the auto business almost going out of business and taking very large suppliers with them. I’m sure most people in the Detroit area never thought it could happen either. The city had a series of very bad and corrupt mayors and the exodus began. I remember seeing bumper stickers that said “ The last one who leaves Detroit turn off the lights” a very sad ending to a once very proud and great city. It is encouraging to see parts of the city and surrounding area making a comeback but it is a long road.

    Not sure how much of the original auto industry architecture still exists lots of it has been torn down or rebuilt in order to survive. At one time the Ford Rouge Complex had over 30,000 people there and was said to be the only plant in the world where every component of a car could be manufactured. I doubt if there is a third of the people who still work there.
    chopped, lothiandon1940 and quick85 like this.
  15. lothiandon1940 likes this.
  16. The Society for Industrial Archeology held their annual meeting in the city in 2005. The tourist and academic interest has been building for quite some time. I am not alone in wanting to visit.

    And here:

    And this interesting piece on grassroots, modest archeology efforts currently underway:

    Lots to learn. I have an open mind.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
    lothiandon1940 and pirate like this.
  17. whiteknuckle
    Joined: Feb 6, 2007
    Posts: 29

    from Dryden, NY

    at some point you'll have to eat...…………
    check out Vinsetta Garage at 27799 Woodward Ave, Berkley, MI 48072

    Curt Catallo recreated the well-worn and well-loved mechanics shop that was built in 1919 into a brush-steel restaurant that serves reimagined home cooking.


    In 2010, the oil and grease were wiped up and the jacks and drill bits were put away as the oldest operating garage east of the Mississippi, Vinsetta Garage, shut its doors after 91 years of service.

    lothiandon1940 likes this.
  18. 41 GMC K-18
    Joined: Jun 27, 2019
    Posts: 214

    41 GMC K-18

    This one of the great murals that Diego Rivera painted in Detroit, incredible detail !
  19. Highland Park plant. HRP

    Truck64 likes this.
  20. 31Apickup
    Joined: Nov 8, 2005
    Posts: 1,801


    As I said most of the crime is in areas you don’t belong, it is not rampant all over.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    chopped likes this.
  21. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 3,265

    from Ioway

    How does one determine an area isn't where one belongs? Is there are brochure or something?
  22. Ebbsspeed
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 4,618


    Let me preface this by pointing out that I was the South Dakota 7th Grade State Spelling Bee Champion in 1967, and therefore am a HUGE ASSHOLE when it comes to spelling.

    Wondering is usually quite safe; it's the wandering that may get you in trouble.

    Like I said, I am an asshole. Please forgive me for this horrible affliction which causes me to make uncalled for comments.

  23. From the entire South Dakota Elementary School Graduating Class of 67:;)
    LBCD, chopped, lothiandon1940 and 2 others like this.
  24. I have been there a couple times and there is tons to see. I also enjoyed the tour of Edsel Ford's estate. The garage and chauffeurs quarters were a car guys dream.
    Don't try to see it all in one trip

  25. Misspelled words are like bad welds- best corrected. To paraphrase Barry Goldwater:

    "Extremism in defense of syntax is no vice. Moderation in pursuit of correct spelling is no virtue."

    But that being said- as a lifelong egghead- let me point out that wondering has gotten me into all manner of jams and tight spots. Wondering and wandering can be equally dangerous in this current culture of ours.

    I promise to be on my toes while in the Motor City.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
  26. Lepus
    Joined: Nov 18, 2016
    Posts: 103


    If you like to see how the people who got rich from building cars lived, then visit the Edsel Ford mansion, like Potato Truck said, and the dodge mansion.
  27. lothiandon1940 likes this.
  28. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 5,227

    Bandit Billy

    I believe the local Native Americans word for it is "He Mi", but I have nothing to back that up. Have fun in the motor city!
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 7,715


    As to where NOT to go, a lot has changed. When the Det Chief of Police advised residents "...arm yourself, we can't be everywhere..." things changed rather abruptly. Rough areas might be what we locals still call "Warrendale" and "Brightmoore" on the west side and there's a few "Ruh't roh" places sprinkled around on the east side. Danger? Well you don't walk around alone at 11pm in spots like that, you don't hang out in front of bars or party stores in areas of urban blight (yeah, we got em), and surely downtown is seldom to never dangerous. Casinos, restaurants, the sports arenas and theaters won't stand for having their customer base scared off. Nobody mentioned a ride out west on US-12. You'd need a map, history book, or maybe some details gleaned from a 'net search but there's still some buildings and re-puposed structures from the mom n pop shops that Henry Ford liked to do business with. You'll also venture into Irish Hills which has many of the old tourist traps still in place that motorists would visit back in the day. Of course MIS is also out there and if nothing else a good photo op. The weekend of Aug 9-11 is the 180 mile garage sale on US-12 that runs from Ypsi to New Baltimore. Might not be a better way to hear stories and even picking up a genuine artifact on the cheap is possible. It would be a long day even if you didn't run the whole route but I think it's worth the time. Living here makes it easy to take for granted but my involvement with local clubs opens up such adventures now n then.

    You'll dig it, no doubt.
  30. These local restaurant suggestions are terrific. Someone else mentioned Kate's Kitchen in Flat Rock for breakfast or pies.

    And the Traffic Jam and Snug Restaurant:


    Any others come to mind?

    On an earlier trip to Autorama we ate in Greektown, which was really good.

    I am hearing about Mexico Town with authentic dishes; and a special local delicacy hotdog called a "Coney Island", I believe:


    Gotta try it all. My wife, the healthy food Nazi, will not be with me on this trip. She doesn't need to know details of where I might eat.

    Last edited: Jul 12, 2019
    Johnny Gee and lothiandon1940 like this.

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