Southwest Detroit Banner

SWD AHG Title BR 7.5.22


The essays and posts found here help put into context the details contained in the profiles of firms and sites.

19th Century Industry - This overview introduces the firms that laid the foundation for the neighborhood’s auto industry

Early Auto Boom - This essay traces the rise of auto manufacturers in the first decades of the 20th century.

Autoworkers and Their Industry - This post provides an overview of the challenges confronting the auto industry in the years following World War II.

Disinvestment and Revitalization - This article explores the economic trends that battered Southwest Detroit’s auto economy and efforts to reverse those trends.

Labor Roots - This page lists all of the posts that explore the history of organized labor found in the Guide

The Guide’s WE “AUTO” KNOW MORE tab lists the businesses and local union profile that we hope to develop in the future. 

In addition, it is anticipated that within the next year grant funding can be secured to broaden the Guide’s discussion of the ties of Southwest Detroit’s ethnic communities to the auto industry. That effort envisions organizing workshops where representatives from cultural communities can work with team members to craft tributes to those communities’ early neighborhood roots.  

Scholars or college students would also be welcome to work the Guide team to generate a post that focuses on worker housing or additional discussions about minority businesses tied to the auto industry. In each instance, a considerable amount of material about each topic has already been collectd. For more information about any of these initiatives, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Click to view 

Railway Cars, Bricks, And Salt: Southwest Detroit Industrial History Before Auto, Thomas Klug’s 1999 report provides an overview of the neighborhood's industrial roots. It was part of a Southwest Detroit Business Association’ “Faces, Places, & Automobiles” planning study funded by the Michigan Humanities Council and the City of Detroit Historic Designation Advisory Board. This essay, and the bus tour provided by Ron Alpern under the auspices of Detroit Labor History Tours for the study team, represent the early seeds of the Auto Heritage Guide.


Breaking Barriers: The OJ Transport Story, Mitchell Fleischer’s essay traces the story of the campaign by James Group International founders to overcome the obstacles that prevented African - American and other minority entrepreneurs from entering the interstate trucking industry.