Visiting the birthplace of the Model T: the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant


DETROIT, MI"I will build a motor car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one — and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God's great open spaces."

So said Henry Ford in his autobiography 'My Life and Work'. And so he did.

I've explored the history of the birthplace of General Motors and toured The Henry Ford Museum. The next stop on my automotive history journey was the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant.

Built in 1904, this plant was the birthplace of the Model T. In 2000, the Model T Automotive Heritage Complex organization took control of the plant and has run the building as a museum ever since.

The Victorian architecture stands the test of time with its beautiful brick, wood-planked floors, and arched windows. When I arrived, I was greeted by my tour guide Dick Rubens and watched an award-winning orientation video before our tour started.

It was me, Dick Rubens, and teens from the ‘Summer in the City' program. Before their visit, they had been painting automotive & train themed murals near the plant at the viaducts on Beaubien Street.

As we walked around, Rubens shared his wealth of knowledge about Henry Ford, the plant, and the company itself. The one that stuck out to me was that it originally took 12 hours to produce one Model T. With the assembly line up & running, it took a mere 12 minutes.

There was gorgeous cars, a very old-school elevator, and the spot Henry Ford worked on the Model T design with his engineers.

I reflected as I did with being at the Durant-Dort Carriage Co. Factory No. 1. These places were home to the blood, sweat, and tears that gave us what we have today. Our area was the Silicon Valley of its day. It's amazing to think how much different our lives would be without the innovation and hard work of those that came before us.

If you'd like to explore the plant, admission is $10. Tours run throughout the day and you'll find a more detailed schedule by visiting www.tplex.org.

Make sure to check out the videos and photos of my trip. The Summer in the City program is more positive news for this area and they are helping bring the area back. If you'd like to volunteer, check them out at www.summerinthecity.com.

Maybe you've been exploring the automotive history of southeastern Michigan and have some pictures to share. Use the hashtag #CruiseTheD on Instagram and Twitter and share your pictures with us. They'll appear on our Cruise The D app.

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