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The Henry Ford Empire

Shiny Model T automobiles, old steam engines, and the assembly line of the F-150: the Henry Ford Museum is a must for anybody with an interest in cars. This is a world-class piece of American history.

Henry Ford was born in Dearborn, a suburb of Detroit. In 1929, he founded the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. With the open-air museum, Henry Ford wanted to portray the Industrial Revolution and showcase items of historic importance. The Henry Ford – as the complex is known today – attracts 1.5 million visitors a year and is one of Detroit’s top attractions.

The Henry Ford Museum
The Henry Ford Museum

Detroit

Technological superpower

The museum is divided into several sections. The largest section is called Driving America and tells the history of the American car industry. The 15-millionth Ford Model T and very first Ford Mustang from 1964 are on display here. The Presidential Vehicles section is also impressive and includes the limousine in which John F. Kennedy was shot in 1963.


However, the museum is not only focused on cars: it also narrates how the United States developed into a technological super power. The Made in America section showcases enormous steam machines, and the Home Arts zone displays household appliances through the ages. Another interesting exhibit is the Fokker, a Dutch-built plane that made the first flight over the North Pole in 1926.

Various Ford models

A peek inside the factory

One of the newest attractions is the Ford Rouge Factory Tour which consists of 5 sections. The most interesting section allows you to watch the assembly of the newest Ford F-150 from a footbridge. At the beginning of the 20th century, Henry Ford made a huge impact with his innovative production process. In 1913, Ford was the first car manufacturer to use an assembly line to manufacture cars. He believed that cars should be accessible to all and his goal was to produce safe yet affordable cars. In the days before the assembly line, one single car mechanic would assemble an entire engine. After the line was introduced, the tasks in the factory were divided into various sub-tasks and each mechanic had his own specialty. Thanks to this increased efficiency, the price of cars was reduced. The Ford Model T was the first car to be manufactured this way.

The Ford Rouge Factory Tour
A Mc Donald’s sign from 1960
Greenfield Village

American history

Also visit the Greenfield Village: an open-air exhibition with 100 historic buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. A visit there is like travelling back in time: walk along the old railway, visit the Wright brothers’ bicycle factory and see the house where Henry Ford was born in 1863. You can also take a ride in a real Ford Model T!

Photo credits

  • Various Ford models: Michael Kappel, Flickr
  • The Ford Rouge Factory Tour: Nicole Yeary, Flickr
  • A Mc Donald’s sign from 1960: The Henry Ford