Visiting Dearborn, Michigan: dynamic city with memories of Henry Ford

State Flag of Michigan
State Flag of Michigan | Source
The Ford Model T, 1908
The Ford Model T, 1908 | Source
Fairlaine Town Center, Dearborn
Fairlaine Town Center, Dearborn | Source
Map location of Dearborn, Michigan
Map location of Dearborn, Michigan | Source

Looking back and forward

Dearborn is named for US Secretary of State Henry Dearborn (served 1801-1809 in the Jefferson Administration). This area of the Midwest was first settled by Europeans in 1786. Located in the Detroit Metropolitan Area, in Michigan's Wayne County, Dearborn is a dynamic city both when one looks forward and backward. Still the hub of some of the Ford Motor Company's huge operations — directed from The Glass House — and with very well appointed shopping and hotel facilities, it is also a mine of fascinating memories for the student of automotive, and local Michigan, history.

The Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village

Among the distinguished features of Dearborn, the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village is a very large indoor and outdoor complex of items and buildings of historical significance. These deal not only with the development of the Ford Motor Company but also with the broader context of automotive history and the development of American life and the Industrial Revolution.

Mr Ford himself began collecting items of historical interest as far back as 1906 and the eventual museum was an expansion of his original commemorative plans. The visitor may see Henry Ford's 1896 Quadricycle to the sombre 1961 Lincoln Continental used by J. F. Kennedy in Dallas, Tx., in November, 1963. The legendary Model T was produced from 1908 until 1927: an automobile of this model has been known to give rides to visitors to the museum. Henry Ford's collaboration with inventor Thomas Alva Edison is well documented. The clock tower at Greenfield Village is a replica of Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Penn. Greenfield Village is noted as a U.S. National Historic Landmark District.

Fairlane Town Center

The Fairlane Town Center has more than 160 stores and restaurants, many of them brand names. The Center was developed by the distinguished local realtor A. Alfred Taubman.

Rouge River

The Rouge River , at Dearborn, has been the subject of many conservation and clean up efforts in recent years. At the Rouge River Bird Observatory, the presence of species which have been particularly documented include the American Crow and Black-capped Chickadee.

A Rouge River Gateway Greenway Trail has various access points and there are plans for the scope of the Trail to be extended.

Native American Business Alliance

Based at Dearborn is the Native American Business Alliance, which advocates for Native American businesses and operates programs to educate communities about Native American culture. The Alliance has been successful in attracting the sponsorship of various prominent corporations.

Arab-American National Museum

Also based at Dearborn is the Arab-American National Museum. An Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC., the Museum is devoted to Arab American history and culture. With many distinguished patrons, the Museum also offers library and research resources and various opportunities for volunteer activities.

Also worth seeing

Detroit (distance: 13.8 kilometres); included in the noted ecclesiastical architecture of Detroit is the 1886 Gothic Revival Ste. Anne de Détroit church, with its tall, twin spires. The Detroit riverfront contains a number of impressive skyscrapers, with views of the riverfront being particularly striking from across the Detroit River , in Windsor, Ontario. The 1886 Michigan Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument was built to commemorate local contributors to the Civil War.

Monroe (distance: 55.3 kilometres) has the 1910 George Armstrong Custer Equestrian Monument, sculpted by Edward Clark Potter, commemorating a local figure whose boyhood home Monroe was. Among the distinguished buildings in Monroe is the 1918 Norman Towers, formerly Hall of the Divine Child. Monroe also contains Sterling State Park, which in Michigan is the only State Park on the shores of Lake Erie.

Toledo, Ohio (distance: 86.6 kilometres); known as the Glass City, interesting sights at Toledo include historic Fort Meigs and the Toledo Museum of Art. The Maumee River estuary provides fine birdwatching opportunities.

Port Huron, Michigan (distance: 106.4 kilometres), situated at the southern end of Lake Huron, has the historic Fort Gratiot Light, the state's first lighthouse, constructed in 1829, when Michigan was still a Territory; the lighthouse now belongs to Fort Huron Museum.

Windsor , Ontario, Canada (distance: 16.2 kilometres), across the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit, has a number of distinguished, historic buildings, including: the Duff Baby House, originally a late 18th century fur trading post; the 1812 François Baby House, at which Windsor's Community Museum is now based; Mackenzie Hall, originally a courthouse, now a Cultural Centre, was built in Classical Revival style in 1855/56 by Alexander Mackenzie, who went on to serve as Canada's Prime Minister from 1873 to 1878. Dieppe Gardens commemorate Canadian losses from the Essex-Kent Scottish Regiment during the ill-fated Dieppe Raid of 1942, during World War Two.

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How to get there: Airlines serving Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, include Continental Airlines, which flies from New York Newark and Chicago O'Hare, and Air Canada, which flies from Toronto Pearson. Car rental is available at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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