Day 6: June 24, 2015
Detroit Beauties

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We were back on the busses early this morning but today there was no single destination. Instead, we would be making several reasonably short stops. First up is the building that the original Lincoln Highway Association's headquarters called home. Today it is the Chrysler House. When it housed the LHA, it was named the Dime Bank Building after the resident bank where accounts could be opened with as little as a dime. It looks rather nice no matter what you call it.

We were divided into several groups and assigned guides to see a bit of the building's interior. It wasn't possible for us to visit the old 21st floor LHA space so we were shown an area occupied by dPOP (Detroit People Offices Places) instead. They claim to be "passionate about designing spaces that inspire both creativity and productivity within the workplace" but you could probably guess that.

We didn't even need the bus to reach the next attraction. The fabulous Guardian Building is less than a block from the Chrysler House. Completed in 1929, it barely avoided the stock market crash. The Wirt C. Rowland designed structure has been called one of the most significant Art Deco buildings in the world. It's easy to see why.

The buses then hauled us to lunch at the Piquette Avenue Ford Plant. This is where both the Model T and the assembly line were developed. Henry Ford's second floor office has been furnished to match a period photograph and some modifications have been made to provide a Henry's eye view. Originally, teams of eight to ten men assembled complete cars between each pair of support posts. As some workers developed expertise in specific operations, they moved from car to car performing the same job on each one. Next, as every schoolboy (or at least every schoolboy of a certain age) knows, Henry started moving the cars past the employees and the moving assembly line was born.

Many interesting cars are displayed at the factory and we heard some of their stories. Here are two of the things I learned. I knew that many Ford models preceded the Model T and I've seen a few examples of the first Model A (The one that came before the groundbreaking Model T) and the Model B that immediately followed it. What I didn't realize was that they were basically the same car. The Model A was chain driven with the engine and gas tank under the seat. It was started with a crank on the right side. When cars with front mounted engines begin appearing, they were seen as more stylish and maybe even more advanced. Henry got in on the stylishness by moving the gas tank to the front and placing a hood-like structure around it. The rest of the car -- chain, engine, and side crank -- remained the same. I also learned that the Ford logo originally had wings and that the Model Ts made in this building (the first 12,000 or so) can be identified by their wings.

The 1928 Fisher Building only partly escaped the great depression. Another thirty story tower plus a gigantic sixty story tower were planned but those plans were abandoned when the stock market crashed. An information panel mounted inside the building is here. On the day of our visit, it was announced that the building was part of a 12.2 million dollar sale to the HFZ Capital Group.

Many pictures have been taken and much has been written about the forty acre site of the Packard plant. Here's some more. Vandals, scavengers, and time have certainly done their damage but a little good news is starting to be heard. Last year, Spanish investor Fernando Palazuelo bought the site and some cleanup has started. A "wrap" made from a photograph now covers a badly decayed bridge while work to restore it reportedl progresses behind the mesh covering.

This is, without a doubt, the densest journal page I've ever posted. I determined early on that six was the maximum number of thumbnails I ought to include in one panel (That's what I call the areas separated by horizontal lines.) of a journal page. Six thumb panels aren't exactly rare but it is unusual to see more than a couple of them on a page. All five of the preceding panels have six thumbnails and there's one more to come. More often than not, a six thumb panel means I really had a lot more than six pictures I wanted to use for a particular subject and that was certainly the case for the buildings of Detroit.

It could have been true for the parks of Detroit as well, or at least for Belle Isle, but most Belle Isle features were seen from the bus which isn't really conducive to photo acquisition. I try it on occasion but the combination of moving platform and glaring glass has not been good to me. Since I remembered seeing lots of neat things in the park, I was surprised to find only this single photo at the end of the day. I remember taking the picture and thinking that it looked a bit like farm animals packing into shady areas on hot days. We're sort of packing in for shade, too, but mostly it's for the Vernors and Faygo.

Internet service at the hotel had been flaky from the beginning and essentially not at all useful for the last couple of days. It was actually working when the bus tour ended and I took advantage of it to get one page of this journal posted. That made me late for dinner and that made me late for Cece Otto's performance at the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum which, as of last September, is also the National Hudson Motor Car Company Museum. The building once housed Miller Motors, the last operating Hudson dealership in the country. There are plenty of Hudsons on display including a rare Italia along with the various products of the Ypsilanti area's Willow Run Plant such as Henry Js and Corvairs.

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