MotorCities Hosts the Alliance of National Heritage Areas

MotorCities NHA staff and board members next to a brown highway sign at Fair Lane in Dearborn, MI
MotorCities NHA Executive Director Shawn Pomaville-Size, Board Chair Michael O’Callaghan, and Director of Programs & Operations Brian Yopp unveiled new highway signs for MotorCities NHA during ANHA's visit to Fair Lane, Home of Clara and Henry Ford, in Dearborn, MI.

NPS Photo / Chris Stein

Detroit, MI (May 10, 2019) – MotorCities National Heritage Area welcomed the Alliance of National Heritage Areas (ANHA) to the birthplace of the automotive industry as ANHA kicked off their spring business meeting. ANHA, a membership organization of National Heritage Area directors and partnering institutions across the country, meets three times a year to share resources and learn about best practices. This gathering allowed attendees to experience MotorCities NHA firsthand.

Visitors viewing Diego Rivera’s mural of industrial workers at the Detroit Institute of Arts during ANHA visit
ANHA participants visited the Detroit Institute of Arts, where they viewed one of Diego Rivera’s iconic murals that pay tribute to the workers who were instrumental in developing the automotive industry in Michigan.

NPS Photo / Chris Stein

Long considered the heart of the automotive industry, this part of Michigan literally “put the world on wheels.” When Henry Ford introduced assembly line production in his factories in the 1910s, automobiles suddenly became affordable to more of the population. As the popularity of automobiles skyrocketed, so too did the growth of automobile factories and related businesses in central and southeastern Michigan, cementing its legacy in automotive history.

MotorCities NHA protects and promotes these nationally important stories by partnering with numerous organizations throughout the region, including museums, archives, cultural organizations, factories, and more. Their work is relevant not only to the many communities in which they work, but also to the country and the world. ANHA’s spring meeting, held April 23-25, provided MotorCities with the opportunity to showcase their accomplishments in the realm of historic preservation, education, and heritage tourism.

Four people unveiling new historic marker at UAW Local 600 in Dearborn, MI
New interpretive signs about the Ford Hunger March were unveiled at the historic United Auto Workers Local 600 building in Dearborn.

NPS Photo / Chris Stein

At Fair Lane, the Home of Clara and Henry Ford, ANHA members learned about a collaborative project between MotorCities and the Michigan Department of Transportation to place new highway signs to help increase the visibility of the National Heritage Area. At the historic United Auto Workers Local 600 building, MotorCities unveiled interpretive plaques commemorating the Ford Hunger March of 1932, a key event in labor history that led to the formation of the United Auto Workers labor union.

ANHA attendees next to Transcending circular sculpture on the Detroit Waterfront
ANHA toured Detroit’s Waterfront to learn about the city’s history and arts culture.

NPS Photo / Chris Stein

Throughout the week, ANHA members held workshops and presentations at a variety of sites, including automotive factories and a historic labor union building. They also visited the Detroit Institute of the Arts, learned about Detroit’s history along the waterfront, and toured automotive heritage sites in Flint. During their time together, the participants from National Heritage Areas across the country shared their experiences, learning from each other’s challenges and successes. They will then be able to take those lessons back to their own National Heritage Areas.

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Members of ANHA at goodbye dinner at Vinsetta Garage restaurant in Detroit
ANHA meeting participants delved into all aspects of MotorCities heritage, including Detroit’s delicious cuisine.

NPS Photo / Chris Stein

Last updated: May 30, 2019