The Henry Ford, Greenfield Village & the Detroit Institute of Arts

It was still dark outside when I woke up from my restful slumber at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel. There was some commotion going on outside on the street: thousands of people were milling about in preparation for the Detroit Free Press Marathon, a big annual event for runners.

The Detroit Marathon filled the sidewalks with early-morning spectators


I got dressed and hurried outside to catch the start of the race. Thousands of onlookers watched as the runners lined up behind the start line, ready to kick off the long distance race. In addition to the traditional marathon, the schedule also included a half-marathon, a relay and a 5 km fun run. The most unique feature of the Detroit Marathon is its international course which takes it through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel into Windsor, Canada, and across the Ambassador Bridge back to Detroit. The tunnel portion of the marathon is the only official underwater mile in the world as most of the tunnel is under water.

Ready – Set – Go!


The entire downtown area was packed with people, and I took the opportunity to go on an early morning photo safari to the waterfront where I witnessed a breathtaking sunrise above the Windsor skyline. This brisk walk at daybreak gave me another chance to capture some of Detroit’s most photogenic spots, bathed in the warm glow of the rising sun.

What a sunrise…


After another scrumptious waffle breakfast at the Westin Book Cadillac we were ready for a trip out of town to Dearborn to see “The Henry Ford”. Also known as the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village, this is the largest indoor-outdoor history museum complex in the United States. In addition to expansive museum grounds and thousands of memorabilia, it also features an IMAX theatre.

The Henry Ford – America’s largest indoor-outdoor history museum


We started our explorations in the indoor complex which had begun as Henry Ford’s personal collection of historic objects. The eastern side of the large historic building features a display on the role of the automobile in American Life. Next to this area is a 1941 Allegheny Steam Locomotive. Children in particular like to climb in and out of this historic machine. The crowning jewel of the automotive display is the 1961 Lincoln Continental in which President J.F. Kennedy was assassinated.

President Kennedy’s fateful limousine


Another section, entitled “Heroes of the Sky”, documents the first forty years of aviation with photos, exhibits and actual airplanes. Other exhibits feature furniture and articles of daily life as well as an area with displays of late 19th and early 20th century machinery and power generation equipment. Very popular with young visitors is an authentic Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

“Heroes of the Sky”


In the area entitled “With Liberty and Justice For All”, America’s struggle for independence as well as civil rights is documented. A popular display is the rocking chair on which President Abraham Lincoln was sitting when he was shot. George Washington’s camp bed is also on display. The highlight of this area is the actual bus on which Rosa Parks was sitting when she refused to give up her seat, effectively triggering the Civil Rights Movement. I enjoyed the chance to stroll through the actual bus, events on which kicked off one of the United States most important social movements.

Rosa Parks’ bus


One of our favourite displays was the Dymaxion House, developed by inventor Buckminster Fuller who initially conceptualized the idea for this round, aluminum-clad suspended house all the way back in 1927. His mass-produced and affordable house featured about 1000 square feet of living space with two bedrooms and two bathrooms inside a round metal shell. The house included a rain-water catching system as well as low-energy construction materials and was supposed to be hurricane-proof. It was conceived to be easily shipped and assembled on site, and its goal was intended to be affordable for the masses.

The spherical design of the Dymaxion House

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *