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Automotive Heritage

Day Tour 3:  Detroit Automotive Attractions



Piquette PlantTour Overview

With nationally-acclaimed tourist draws such as The Henry Ford in Dearborn, it can be easy to overlook some of Detroit's most interesting automotive sites and attractions located right within city limits.  In fact, Detroit's automotive legacy acquired a new lease on life in 1996 when General Motors relocated its headquarters from the New Center area to the Renaissance Center located on the Detroit River at Woodward and Jefferson.  This tour makes its way south from the World's First Concrete Mile down to GM World, an engaging automotive display located inside the automaker's office center.  The tour includes other engaging sites such as the Detroit Historical Museum and the Ford Piquette Plant (pictured at right) that provide a unique insight into the history of the automotive industry and its impact on the metropolitan Detroit region.


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World's First Concrete Mile [A]

Woodward Avenue between 6 Mile (McNichols) and 7 Mile


Although concrete had been used previously for small street surfaces in other parts of the country, Wayne County is credited for building the first full mile of concrete road in 1909 on Woodward Avenue near Palmer Park.  The project was a test bed for proving concrete's ability to withstand the heavy traffic of the day.  The road surface has since changed and Woodward Avenue is now a major thoroughfare.  Nevertheless, the first mile of concrete contributed significantly to the development of the modern automobile highway.  A Michigan Historical Marker is located along Woodward in this vicinity.


Davison Freeway

Nation's First Modern Highway [B]

Davison Freeway (M-8) between the Chrysler (I-75)

and Lodge (M-10) freeways


Opened in 1942, the short (a little over 2 miles) Davison Freeway is considered to be the nation's first modern highway.  The $3.62 million freeway was the first to be built below existing roads and demonstrated significant durability with its concrete construction.  In fact, the original road surface was so durable that it lasted over 50 years until its reconstruction in 1997.  The Davison Freeway led to the use of concrete as the primary road surface during the construction of the majority of Michigan's highway system thereafter.  Take a drive on the historical Davison Freeway during your visit to the Detroit area!

Piquette Plant 2Ford Piquette Plant - Birthplace of the Model T [C]

411 Piquette Avenue, Detroit



This 66,000 square foot factory was the proving ground for the moving assembly line and birthplace of  the Model T, the car that would change the world.  Otherwise known as Tin Lizzie, the Model T was designed and developed by Henry Ford and a small group of dedicated engineers in a secure third floor room inside this plant located on Piquette Avenue just east of Detroit's New Center area.   The factory assembled nearly 12,000 Model Ts between 1908 and 1910 before Ford opened his Highland Park Model T facility.  There, the assembly line technique was improved and another 12 million Tin Lizzies produced.  Tours of the Piquette Plant are offered periodically and for special events.

GM LogoGM World [E]

100 Renaissance Center, Level A, Detroit

Opened in 2000, GM World features a 50,000 square foot showroom with 26 GM vehicles, visual and audio displays, and interactive elements.  The vehicles are positioned around a circular pool on the lower level of the spectacularly-redeveloped Renaissance Center, Detroit's most recognizable icon.  The exhibit is anchored by a showpiece 320 degree video system with water and lighting effects.  The vehicles, visual and audio displays, and interactive features are rotated periodically to keep the exhibits fresh and exciting and to attract both new and repeat visitors.  GM is open weekdays and offers free public tours.  A fantastic end to the tour.

Tour Map

Number of Destinations:  5

Overall Tour Time:  1 day


Automotive Heritage Day Tour 3




Click Me to Rent a Car!!!


Related Tours

Automotive Heritage Day Tour 1:  "Must-See" Dearborn Attractions

Automotive Heritage Day Tour 2:  Other Dearborn Attractions

Downtown Detroit


New Center


Woodward Avenue

Resources & Links

Ford Motor Company

General Motors



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