Southwest Detroit Banner

SWD AHG Title BR 7.5.22


The Guide pays tribute to Southwest Detroit’s auto legacy and makes that legacy accessible to current and former neighborhood residents, tourists, auto enthusiasts, community activists, and students. The WE “AUTO KNOW MORE” post outlines opportunities to add the stories about ethnic communities, additional auto businesses, and other local unions, including those of the Steelworkers and Teamsters.

New projects can be designed to suit the interests of anyone who gets involved. A good deal of research is in hand and available to college and high school students, church and union groups, and individuals who want to join our team. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to explore how you can take part!  Take this survey to indicate how you can best help. 


DPL BHC 1 Baker St Trolley HBTGBaker Street Trolley - the main route serving Southwest Detroit factories and the Ford Rouge complex 


These individuals have researched, developed, and edited much of the information found in the Guide and will remain involved as the Guide welcomes new contributors. 

Ron Alpern is a founding member of Detroit Labor History Tours and co-produced its Rivera’s Labor Legacy DPTV broadcast. He is also a former Detroit Recreation Department staff member who helped launch Chene and Milliken State Parks. He also organized the artist selection competition for the Labor’s Legacy Landmark project. 

Dr. Daniel Clark teaches history at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He is the author of Like Night and Day: Unionization in a Southern Mill Town and Disruption in Detroit: Autoworkers and the Elusive Postwar Boom. 

Dianne Feeley is a retired autoworker active in Detroit Eviction Defense. She is an editor of Against the Current and lives in Southwest Detroit.

Dr. Dan Luria is an auto industry analyst and former UAW Research Department economist. Co-author of Rational Reindustrialization (1981), an industrial policy prescription for Detroit, he studies and writes broadly on Michigan and Midwest economic policy.



David Elsila is a former editor of American Teacher and the UAW magazine, Solidarity. A board member and treasurer of the Michigan Labor History Society, he also served on the Board of Directors of the MotorCities National Heritage area. He has collaborated on several books including The Color of Law, Working Detroit, The New Labor Press, We Make Our Own History, and Union Town. 

Dr. Mitchell Fleischer is an organizational psychologist who spent two decades helping companies in the auto adopt new practices for engineering and manufacturing in order to improve competitiveness. Also, an historian, he is working on a history of economic development in Detroit and Southeast Michigan since WWII. 

Matthew Harding was a student in Dr. Tracy Neumann’s Wayne State University History of Detroit 2012 seminar. He is now the assistant editor of RePlay magazine, a monthly trade publication for the amusement industry. He also continues sharing his love of history through various writing and photography projects.

Dr. Stephen Jones teaches history at Central Michigan University. He is a labor poet / singer, a former Detroit Free Press reporter, and a former auto beat reporter for the Associated Press.

 Dr. Thomas Klug is professor emeritus of history at Marygrove College. He has published essays about Detroit’s anti-union employers in the early 20th century, compiled the comprehensive Bibliography of Detroit History, Culture and Politics: Late Nineteenth-Century to the Present (3rd edition, 2020), and is editor of the Great Lakes Books series of Wayne State University Press.  

James Pederson is Program Co-Chair of the Michigan Labor History Society. A UAW member from the former Ford Saline operation, he served in the UAW’s Education and COPE departments and taught at the University of Michigan Dearborn’s Labor and Community Studies Program.



This effort is deeply indebted to the MotorCities National Heritage Area, the Southwest Detroit Business Association, and the Michigan Labor History Society for their sustained interest. The Guide’s leadership is most grateful that MotorCities has agreed to post new material that our team will create in the future.

Kathy Wendler and Marion Bloye have been steadfast in insisting that the Southwest Detroit auto legacy be brought to the public’s attention. Jennifer Reinhardt (City of Detroit / Historic Designation Advisory Board), and Jim Pedersen (Michigan Labor History Society), and Robert Dewaelsche (Southwest Detroit Business Association) were exceedingly helpful in the months leading up to the Guide’s launch. The support of these individuals over the years is also greatly appreciated: Ismael Ahmed, Rory Bolger, Peter Dooley, Paul Draus, Kel Keller, W. Kim Heron, Reg McGhee, Roberto Munoz, Tracy Neumann, Shaun Nethercott, Jessica Pellegrino, Oswaldo Rivera, Harriet Saperstein, and Charlene Snow. 

The Guide team is deeply indebted to the archives and libraries whose images so greatly enrich our narratives. The cooperation of the General Motors Media Archives deserves special mention, as does the support of project partners, the Detroit Historical Society and Walter P. Reuther Library.  

 Oakland University student Stephanie Suszek helped with the most recent round of edits. The students of Tracy Neumann in the Wayne State University “History of Detroit” seminar in Fall 2012 also made significant contributions to the Guide’s research and to several sites that have yet to be posted to the Guide. 

 Ron Alpern, Marion Bloye, Daniel Clark, and Mitchell Fleischer currently constitute the Guide’s leadership team. 



The scholarship of Dr. Thomas Klug and Dr. Steve Babson deserve special mention as their work serves as both a foundation and an inspiration for the Guide. 

Dr. Klug’s "Railway Cars, Bricks, and Salt: Southwest Detroit Industrial History Before Auto" report prepared for a 1999 Southwest Detroit Business Association planning project documents the mid-19th century hardships faced by workers in the neighborhood’s brickworks. The report’s overview of factories and his Industrial Map of Southwest Detroit (1897 – 1905) are must reads for anyone interested in Southwest Detroit history. 

Dr. Babson was the principal researcher, lead author, and scriptwriter for the signature projects of the Detroit Labor History Tour project from 1979 through 1994. Excerpts from his book Working Detroit have been incorporated into the Guide to provide extra context. 

Click to view:

Detroit Labor History Tours to access a free download of Working Detroit and to order Rivera’s Labor Legacy: The Detroit Murals DVD that debuted on Detroit Public Television in 1991 and was rebroadcast in 2010.