[graphic header] Detroit: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary, National Park Service


Probably no factory changed life in 20th century America as much as the Highland Park Ford Plant. It was here, that Henry Ford and his engineers developed many of the crucial principles of modern mass production. The most notable of these was the continuously moving assembly line; its introduction in late 1913 reduced the assembly time of a Model T from 728 to 93 minutes. By 1920 the plant turned out a car every minute, and one out of every two automobiles in the world was a Model T. The rapid pace of production enabled Ford to pay his workers far higher wages, but it also created a relentless monotony that many of his employees detested. The Highland Park Ford Plant, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978, was also revolutionary for its design. Starting in 1908, Albert Kahn, who would become the country's foremost industrial architect, created a series of brick, concrete, and steel buildings that included features that came to define proper factory design: large, open floors that allowed for the efficient arrangement of machinery; expansive windows that brought in additional light and created a more pleasant and productive working environment ; and the potential for expansion or connection of additional structures to meet increased demand. Even that last characteristic, however, could not prevent Ford from outgrowing Highland Park, and so in the late 1920s the company moved its production center east to the sprawling River Rouge plant.

The Highland Park Ford Plant is located at 91 Manchester Avenue in Highland Park, just off Woodward Avenue. The Highland Park Ford Plant is approximately 4.5 miles from downtown Detroit. Unfortunately, the building is currently is disrepair and is not open to the public.

Highland Park Ford Plant Highland Park Ford Plant
Photograph courtesy of the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office

  Ready to drive away Ford cars ready to leave the plant, circa 1924
Photograph courtesy of the Library of Congress, LC-D420-2877

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