MotorCities National Heritage Area
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Diego Rivera DIA frescoes RESIZED

If you're in Detroit for the NFL Draft, the North American International Auto Show at Huntington Place, business, pleasure or a special event, there are incredible historic sites that tell the story of the automotive industry and labor movement. There are a number of places within walking distance, by hopping on the QLine, the Detroit People Mover or by taking a short drive:

Transcending monument Hart Plaza

Hart Plaza

1 Hart Plaza 

Hart Plaza is an outdoor, urban recreation area on the Detroit River Front featuring the iconic ‘Transcending’ monument (pictured above) dedicated to the labor movement and strength of the men and women who built Detroit.

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General Motors Renaissance Center

400 Renaissance Center 

The Renaissance Center complex is a group of seven interconnected skyscrapers in downtown Detroit that serves as the global headquarters for General Motors.

Detroit Historical Museum Americas Motor City exhibitAmerica's Motor City exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum

Detroit Historical Museum 

5401 Woodward Ave  

Located in Detroit's bustling Cultural Center, the Detroit Historical Museum is one of America's oldest museum sites showcasing the Motor City's rich automotive and local history. The museum has regular hours open the public in addition to special events. 

Diego Rivera Murals at the Detroit Institute of Arts  

5200 Woodward Ave.  

The Diego Rivera murals (pictured at the top of this page) at the Detroit Institute of Arts is a powerful interpretation of the area's auto and labor history completed using 27 fresco panels between 1932-1933. In 2014, the murals were given National Landmark status. Take in the famed work along with other incredible displays at the DIA during regular museum hours. 

Detroit Public Library  

5201 Woodward Ave. 

The Detroit Public Library's main branch is across the street from the Detroit Institute of Arts and adjacent to the Detroit Historical Museum. Its Skillman Branch downtown (currently closed due to construction in the area) is home to the National Automotive History Collection, which features nearly 40,000 images commemorating automotive heritage. The digitized special collection features photographs of automobiles, industry leaders, races, reliability tours, auto shows, factories, roads, highways, gas stations, repair shops, etc. 

Ford Piquette Avenue Plant
Ford Piquette Plant Museum/Milwaukee Junction  

461 Piquette Ave.  

The Ford Piquette Plant Museum serves as one of the historical footings for the Ford empire as Henry Ford's Model T was born in the restored building at the corner of Beaubien and Piquette in downtown Detroit. Surrounding the Piquette Plant, a bustling automotive community formed in the area called Milwaukee Junction. Many early auto manufacturers built factories within Milwaukee Junction such as Fisher Body, Cadillac, Studebaker, Packard, Regal, Dodge and others.   

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Fisher Building

3011 W. Grand Blvd. 

Built just before the Great Depression and financed by the Fisher family, Detroit’s Fisher Building stands as an ornate and grand landmark from the heyday of the automotive industry. The Fisher Brothers started as carriage builders in 1908 before turning toward manufacturing parts for early automobiles. The family eventually sold the business to General Motors and used funds from the sale to finance construction of the building. 

Boston Edison Historic District  

Between Linwood and Woodward, east/west; and between Boston and Edison, north/south 

The Boston Edison neighborhood once served as home to Detroit’s power brokers such as Henry Ford, the Fisher family, James Couzens, Walter P. Reuther and Joe Louis. Take self-guided tour of one of the Detroit’s most famed and historic neighborhoods by visiting the website: historicbostonedison.org. 

Beyond Detroit 

For more sites that commemorate Michigan's rich and unique automotive heritage, click here take a look at the MotorCities interactive map.