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Becoming the Motor City: A Timeline of Detroit’s Auto Industry



Well over a century ago a cadre of self-trained mechanics, machinists, and other tradesmen started tinkering in the small, cramped machine shops near downtown Detroit. Despite their varied technical ideas, professional ambitions, and personal temperaments, they worked towards a common goal: to revolutionize personal transportation by capitalizing on the recently developed internal combustion engine.

The intercession of providence determined that the likes of Henry Ford, Ransom Olds, John and Horace Dodge, and others called the same city home. None of them “invented” the automobile, but their shared imagination, grit, and persistence were responsible for giving birth to an industry arguably responsible for the most profound changes in twentieth century American life.

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