MotorCities National Heritage Area

Diego Rivera DIA frescoes RESIZED

If you're in Detroit for the North American International Auto Show, 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 Detroit People Mover or by taking a short drive:

Hart Plaza

1 Hart Plaza 

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

Renaissance Center RESIZED

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 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 Avenue Plant/Milwaukee Junction  

461 Piquette Ave.  

The Ford Piquette Avenue Plant 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.   

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: 

Beyond Detroit 

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


MotorCities National Heritage Area mini-grant program looks to award up to 10 grants each year with a max value of $1,500.  Though the mini-grants are smaller awards than our traditional challenge grant program, they present an opportunity for greater impact to projects and communities across the region.

Grants are intended for short-term, high impact projects that need that extra little bit to move from concept to reality.  Examples of mini-grants might include tours, field trips, conferences, lectures, planning and studies. If you have an idea please do not hesitate to reach out to see if it qualifies. 



MotorCities Grant Training Workshop
Wednesday, July 27, 2022 at Noon

Attendees will be stepped through the entire 2022-23 MotorCities grant application process with examples from previous successful project partners. Potential grant recipients must have a project which will be completed by September 30, 2023. Recipients also must be active members of MotorCities and must be a non-profit 501 c3, educational institution, government municipality or tribunal. Any new applicant must attend this session in order to apply.
Sign up for the July 27 session here.



  • Grant applicants must be current members of MotorCities National Heritage Area and maintain that membership throughout the entirety of their proposed project.
  • The MotorCities grant award will not exceed $1500. 
  • Mini-grants DO NOT REQUIRE A MATCH however projects which exhibit match and additional leveraging will receive preference based on the feasibility of completion.
  • Once awarded, recipients will receive 50% of the award with signed grant agreement.  The remaining 50% will be remitted upon completion of project and submission of necessary closeout reports.
  • Grant cannot be awarded for any for-profit ventures, fundraising, lobbying, general promotion or advertising.
  • Projects must be largely automobile and/or labor heritage related and must deal with: Revitalization of our historic automotive and labor structures through preservation, Interpretation efforts which attempt to tell the story to a broad audience, Education activities which engage a specific audience and creates increased appreciation of our heritage and Tourism projects which promote the region and its heritage activities.
  • Projects which exemplify diversity, equity and inclusion will receive preference.
  • There will be a maximum of 10 mini-grants awarded for 2023.
  • Your progress can be saved at any time with a link sent to you. Just click the "Save Answers and Resume Later" link at the bottom of the page.

For more information, contact the MotorCities Challenge Grant Program Coordinator: Brian Yopp at 313.259.3425 x 307 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


 Monarch butterfly

MotorCities invites businesses, nonprofits, public entities, neighborhood associations and service clubs to do what they can in support of pollinators, including creating pollinator-friendly habitats and planting pollinator-friendly plants. Take the Pollinator Pledge!

These vital creatures, including bees, butterflies and others that help pollinate America’s fruit, vegetable and grain crops, are declining due to a variety of reasons, some of which are still unknown.

Join partners like the following, who are banding together to provide important habitats for these pollinators across Michigan, including vital grassland habitats. 

  • MotorCities National Heritage Area
  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  • US Forest Service
  • Edsel and Eleanor Ford House
  • Fair Lane, the Home of Clara & Henry Ford
  • Bees in the D
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service 
  • DTE Energy
  • General Motors
  • Belle Isle Conservancy
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Marathon Petroleum Company
  • Ford Piquette Avenue Plant
  • Friends of the Rouge 
  • Friends of the Detroit River
  • Wildlife Habitat Council
  • Downriver Delta Community Development Co.
  • St. Philip Lutheran Church, Trenton, MI
  • Metropolis Cycles of Detroit

MotorCities has taken on this project in Michigan with encouragement from the Midwest Region of the National Park Service to bring together nonprofit and corporate partners signing a Pollinator Pledge. To learn more about efforts taking place around the country to save pollinators, check out the National Park Service's pollinator page here!

To get involved, fill out our Pollinator Pledge form and send it to Brian Yopp, our Director of Programs, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Recently, MotorCities and our partners hosted a Pollinator Pledge Day at the Fort Street Bridge Interpretive Park in southwest Detroit that included planting of pollinator-friendly plants. See a story from Local 4 News about the day's activities. 

Planting 3 RESIZED

Patricia Billette of the Wildlife Habitat Council RESIZED

Marathon Table RESIZED