Detroit is a really interesting place – in the media you’re peppered with stories about the decline of the city, pictures of desolate buildings, talk about the struggles of survival in the city, and video of people exploring the ‘ruins’ of a once magnificent city. While there can be no question that Detroit is a city that is struggling to reinvent itself, through all of the urban decay there’s lessons from the past that can inspire the future. It’s places like Ford’s Piquette Avenue Plant that left me with a sense of excitement and inspiration, and should give anyone hope that anything is truly possible.
As a brief history lesson, Ford’s Piquette Avenue Plant was the second home of Ford, built in 1904, commissioned by Henry Ford. The building is three stories tall, 56 feet wide and 402 feet long – and is now filled with old Ford cars, some fully restored and others in their original state. The plant is the birthplace of the Ford Model T, the car that made cars affordable for everyone. The northwest corner of the building on the third floor is actually where the development of the Model T took place – and has been mostly recreated to give you an idea of what and how they worked on things.
Exploring the plant reveals a variety of stories, lessons and reasons to get excited about the future. Think about a world where cars are only affordable by the wealthiest of wealthy – most people travel long time via horse. Now imagine the development of a vehicle that anyone can afford, and are faster than a horse, able to traverse country ‘roads’, are durable and easy to fix? All of a sudden you’ve changed the world forever. There are plenty of these inspirational tales throughout Piquette that will surely inspire anyone who’s passionately working on anything. Anything is possible, it just takes an idea, drive and dedication to making that thing a reality.
Detroit is in a tough situation, and there’s a constant discussion about how Detroit residents are a hardy bunch, capable of withstanding anything. If every resident spent a little bit of time at Piquette, I’d be inclined to agree – the building speaks to the city’s resilience and perseverance. Tourists too should stop in at Piquette and learn more about the history of Ford, the development of the Model T and Henry Ford himself. If there was ever someone to look up to and be inspired by, Henry Ford’s rise from a garage to international behemoth is one to take in.